In this age of reduced budgets and improved technology, many employers are choosing to conduct first round interviews via video conferencing technology. Whether you're invited to hangout on Google or connect with Skype, here are a few things you should keep in mind as you seek to make a favorable first impression.
Background is important
No, I'm not talking about fleshing out your resume or your life story. Rather, you should think about anything that is likely to distract someone on the other end of a video chat. That includes things like children or pets making an unwanted appearance (whether visual or audible) to traffic or construction noises.
That goes for what your interviewers will be able to see as well: one of the most unnerving aspects of the video interview is that interviewers can see into your home—a big step beyond the boundaries of a traditional interview (assuming that you choose to conduct the interview from home, of course). When setting up for an interview, then, it's worth thinking about what will appear behind you. Just like for passport photos, a patch of blank wall is probably the optimal backdrop: that way there's no chance of any visual clutter, or of letting your potential employer in on the fact that you still have Twilight posters on the wall.
Dress for the occasion
Let's put this one to bed. Dress like you'll be attending an interview in person. Period. And just because they can't see your pants doesn't mean you shouldn't wear any: you never know what might happen that could cause you to have to get up during the interview.
Check your settings in advance
If there's a problem with bad lighting, or a faulty webcam, or excessive background noise, the time to find that out is before the interview ever takes place. Have someone call you in advance to check all that out. While they're on with you, have them walk you through a couple of sample questions to check for audio clarity, and even your…
Sitting in front of a computer in your own home is most conducive tool for perfect posture. For those with desktop setups, resist the urge to lounge back in your chair—as in a face to face interview, you'll want to sit on the edge of the chair and lean slightly towards the camera to indicate your interest. Those with laptops or netbooks, meanwhile, will probably want to set the computer on a flat surface and follow the previous advice—looking down into a camera that you're holding on your knee is not recommended (and neither is lying on your stomach with the computer in front of you).
Cheat a little
Turn that distance between you and the interviewer into a positive: have a copy of your resume, cover letter or any talking point you want to cover posted somewhere that you can see it without breaking eye contact with the camera. But don't just pull it up on screen: you don't want to risk getting distracted, or create the possibility of accidentally ending the interview with a wrong click.
However, if it's the kind of interview where a visual presentation of your work would help, take advantage of the option to utilize the option to share your screen with your interviewers. Just be sure that you've closed anything that might prove to be an embarrassment or a distraction first!
Phil Stott, Vault.com
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