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The online “virtual interview” was bound to happen – and it’s been happening faster and faster as the world becomes smaller and smaller. Because we are able to reach out to others around the world through social networking, electronic devices and instant communication without leaving home or the office, it is not surprising that companies have latched on to this technique to conduct job interviews.

Companies and agencies continue to be challenged to find ways of cutting costs, especially when it comes to travel and entertainment. Interviewing long-distance is the perfect solution to slashing thousands and thousands off of the corporate recruiting budget.
The latest trend in job interviews is to use the video/online technology to screen and interview applicants. Companies are finding this new method to be a great way to save time as well as money by conducting phone screenings before they bring the candidate in for a face-to-face interview – and in some cases to conduct the full job interview virtually.

Just a few of the companies that are joining the ranks and using video interviews are — Merck Pharmaceutical, University of Michigan, UPS, Amway, Kohler, Broadcom, Walmart, InterContinental Hotel Group, ARAMARK, Mayo Clinic – with more companies jumping on the band wagon daily.

So, if you want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends for job interviewing and get ready for the next challenge – you have to be prepared to interview in front of a camera.

What this means is that you will be sitting at home or in an office and staring into a screen with an image looking back at you. There will also be a small window so that you can see yourself. As if you weren’t already nervous enough about the interview process, this new technology could take you over the top.

Tips On Video/Online Interviewing

The question is – “How do you prepare for such an interview?” Uncharted territory is always difficult but with some preparation and practice this just might work in your favor. Taking some tips from television interviews I have been involved in, there are some things to avoid and some things that will make you come across in a more powerful manner.

Rule #1 – Practice.

You will be far more at ease in a job interview if you have used an online meeting platform such as Skype or Zoom before the interview. The good news is that the experience doesn’t require expensive equipment. In fact, if you have a newer laptop computer there is likely a built in camera and you are all set to begin.

For those who do not have a laptop – small webcam cameras are available at stores that sell electronic equipment for a reasonable price (starting at $19.95).

The meeting platform itself is easily installed on your computer and you will up and running in no time.

Rule #2 – Adjust the Camera before the interview.

Becoming comfortable with the adjustment of the camera level and angle will give you the power to position how the other person will see you. If you call in before the interview you can “play” with the placement of the camera so that you can look your best.
Rule #3 – Makeup/Lights/Camera
As with any interview, judgment starts at first sight. There is a limited amount of things that you can do to change your appearance but looking your best is as important as in any face-to-face interview. A few basic rules:

  • Look Professional – at least for the part of you in camera range.
  • Wear solid colors – not prints or bold patterns. Pastels are softer than white.
  • Make sure that you are well groomed – hair, facial hair, teeth (no spinach in the teeth)..
  • Sit up straight – posture is important to your impression and self-confidence.
  • Smile, as appropriate. You don’t want to look like a deer caught in headlights.
  • Avoid looking down at notes – try to look at the screen/camera. You will be talking to a face, or faces, on the screen. Look into the person’s eyes just as you would in an in-person interview.
  • As tempting as this may be, avoid staring at yourself in the small box. This is about you having a conversation with another person.
  • Avoid sudden or jerky hand gestures. Sometime there is a video/audio delay and it will be to your advantage to use smooth hand gestures and movements.
  • If you wear makeup, wear eye makeup to emphasize your eyes and softer colored lipstick. Experiment with this look.

Rule #4 – Good Content Is Essential
It is a given that unless you have something that will “grab” your viewer’s attention, they will more than likely not invite you in for another interview. This is a professional endeavor and should be treated as a professional presentation. You may not be the most objective person to judge whether a new perspective employer will be impressed with your interview. Get feedback from a professional, friend, or family member. Remember to choose someone who will be able to dish-out some honest feedback without you becoming defensive or having your feelings hurt.
Rule #5 – Beware of Phony Postints/Contacts
If you are actively screening job postings you may have seen an item posted on some company’s websites. It’s an offer for a “Free Application Screening.” Surprise – this is nothing more than a job interview – using the camera to see you and make a judgment whether to pursue you further.
As with anything new, there will be a learning curve with this process. Experiment with others to feel more at ease when you do receive that call for a video/online interview. Once you get the call, it will be too late to start to practice.