Extensive Guide: Nailing a Skype/Online Video Interview

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You have just received word from the human resources manager that your resume has made the cut for your dream job. Next up is the interview! The job interview is your chance to create a positive impression of yourself. It can be the vital game-changer, defining whether the door of opportunity opens for you or slams itself shut.

Technology has made the business world smaller than ever, especially when it comes to hiring. Thanks to tools like Skype and Google Hangouts, out-of-town candidates who may not be able to travel to the job site can enjoy the benefits of a face-to-face interview without having to be physically present.

The physical distance between potential employers and job seekers is no longer the impediment it once was. Digital interviewing will never truly replace a face-to-face [meeting], but it is the closest thing we have to the real deal — if it's done properly.

Here are some of the most important rules for job seekers when faced with an online or video job interview to help create a favorable and memorable impact.

Important Dos and don'ts to empower your success and take your candidacy to the next step. Follow all the standard rules and protocols for job interviews.

  • Take the Practice Test: This will enable you to be comfortable with the technology and work out any kinks. Ensure that there is ample light in the room. Check if the internet, camera, microphone and speakers on your device is properly functioning. Avoid overhead lighting and unwanted shadow on your face. Ask for assistance from online support team if you're not sure how to use the tool. In case there's a technical glitch during the interview, dial them up immediately.
  • Plan Ahead: Some interview tools may prompt you to upload a copy of your resume, cover letter, and photographs; keep a soft copy of it on your device. Know your resume at the back of your head so that you don't contradict yourself during the interview. Many employers leave room in the interview for you to ask questions, don't scramble. Do your bit of the research on the company and make a list of anything you might want to know from the employer.
  • Dress Appropriately: Online interviews are as effective as a face-to-face meeting, so ensure you dress professionally. Wear the same interview attire you would during an in-person interview. Just in case you shift places during the interview; dressing waist up could prove precarious for your job. Wear light colored clothes against a dark background and vice versa against a light background.
  • Tidy Up: You don't want to distract the interviewer with a cluttered table. Microphones pick up noise in the room, so don't tap your pen or shuffle papers. Make eye contact with the camera, not the screen, to avoid this pretend your webcam is the person interviewing you. Most interview tools provide with a reference box to see how you appear, make use of it to adjust your device to reveal only what's necessary to the interviewer.
  • Calm Your Nerves: Maintain your etiquette between questions and choose your words carefully. Keep track of time and ensure that you complete your answers before submitting. Don't take more time between two answers. Beware that online interview tools are designed to pick any hint of malpractice. Avoid using search engines while attending the interview. Any unexpected behavior will be noted by the evaluators.

Automated Interviews’ objective is to help employers find the right talent in a candidate. Once this has been established, they could call the candidates to invest time and effort for further discussions in an face to face meeting.

Most employers also put in a lot of effort to showcase the opportunity for the candidates in the in their organization so that they can decide if they should accept or reject the offer.

The questions thrown at you will typically be close-ended and your answers could be as detailed as possible. Practice and be prompt. When you are well prepared with the right responses you stand out in the crowd and the positive impression you make can help you in the subsequent rounds.

Do's:

  1. Use the best technology and connection for the interview. Buy or borrow equipment, if necessary.

  2. Do the interview in a place where you will not be disturbed. Make sure you can control the lighting and provide a simple background.

  3. Set your system up in such a way that you can be seen from the waist up.

  4. Have a strong comfort level with all the technology you'll be using for the interview.

  5. Conduct at least one test of your system with a friend or colleague. Ideally, take a mock interview at the same time as the test, so you can also get feedback on your interviewing skills.

  6. Complete your preparations beforehand. This should include a thorough research into the employer, preparation of strong responses to expected interview questions and development of queries you would like to put forth to the interviewer.

  7. Complete a full run-through of the technology and connections on the same day.

  8. Dress professionally but don't go overboard in colors or patterns that might interfere on camera. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry.

  9. Turn off all other devices that might interrupt the process such as your mobile phone.

  10. Remember to look directly into the camera when speaking so that you can maintain virtual eye contact.

  11. Keep non-verbal gestures in mind throughout the process. This includes eye contact, smiling, good posture and positive hand gestures.

  12. Know how to use your software. Most platforms give the option to test your setup or do a practice interview.

  13. Get a quality camera and microphone so you can look and sound great.

  14. Adjust your lighting to avoid shadows or over-exposure. Soft, natural lighting is the way to go. Use two lights; one to your right and one to your left, each at a 45-degree angle.

  15. Take a teaspoon of honey to soothe your throat before you go "on air."

  16. Clean the camera lens, so you don't look blurry. An unclean lens may also cut an unprofessional picture in front of the interviewer.

  17. Instead of relying on off-camera notes, have a few key points ready with you in advance in case you get flustered.

  18. Expect there to be some glitches, even on the employer's side. However, don't let the issues derail you or make you nervous.

  19. Talk conversationally, as in a face-to-face interview, but do leave a short pause between when the interviewer asks you a question and when you respond. This is especially important if the connection is slow.

  20. Attempt to establish a rapport with your interviewer. 

    (Definitely a bit harder to do in these situations.)

  21. Towards the end of the interview, feel free to ask about the next steps in the process if the interviewer has not already addressed this area.

  22. Write a thank-you email shortly after the video interview.

Dont's of a Video Interview:

  1. Don’t be a diva. Your online interview is about your professional abilities and whether or not you suit the job requirements. It is not about you as a person.

  2. Don’t have an unprofessional or juvenile username.

  3. Don’t move around too much. Stay still and focussed and don't use a swivel chair.

  4. Don’t get distracted by other windows or programs on your system. The only thing on your screen should be the other person's face.

  5. Don’t dress too casually. Dress in the same professional attire that you would wear to an in-person interview.

There’s no need to get hung up on tough interview questions. Just be sure to practice and be prompt. When you are well prepared with the right responses, you ensure that your answers—and you—stand out in the crowd.