The video interview is a great alternative but it requires a certain set of skills and we have some recommendations to improve your success. Some are simply getting the setup right. Others are less obvious as video will accentuate distractions less noticeable during an in-person meeting. The aim is a quality conversation not undermined by manageable adverse factors. These are valid concerns for both candidates and interviewers.
1. Use a laptop, desktop or Tablet with a good quality camera and strong Wi-Fi connection. Mobiles can be more risky particularly when holding the device and risking wobbles!
2. Position the camera so you are a good size in the middle of the screen. Lighting should have your face without shadows so not against a bright background or with lights shining into the camera. Look critically at your background, turn round and see what others will see! Check it isn’t distracting from being busy, untidy or too personal (particularly if you’re at home).
3. Stay where you are! Don’t pick up your device and move around during
Conversations, and keep your face central without too much bobbing in and out of the frame.
4. Might sound basic, but remember we aren’t used to the person on the screen being able to see and hear us. We’re used to one-way visual/audio as with television and general computer usage, so it takes some getting used to. And when we do use Skype or FaceTime, it’s often for personal use. We tend not to be well practised using it professionally.
5. Ensuring perceived eye contact may need practice. The camera’s positioning determines the extent you are seen to have eye contact, or appear to gaze down or off to the side. Contrary to expectations, with some setups looking directly into the screen and into the eyes of the other person will be seen by the other end as looking away or looking downwards. It may be that with an integrated camera you need to ignore the other person’s face on the screen and direct your gaze at the camera light. Getting it right may seem unnatural, but worth the practice. Try it out with a friend or work colleague first.
6. Be proactive, checking positioning and sound with the person you’re communicating with. You can say something like ‘can I just check I’m making good eye contact with you and that the sound is good quality?’
7. Microphones are sensitive and pick up both intended and unintended sounds. The main ones to avoid are a loud meeting in the next room, interruptions (in-person or phone) and tapping a pen or fingers on the desk. If you’re at home then make arrangements that you are not disturbed and that domestic interferences (dogs, cat, small child, etc…) do not happen.
8. Do not use a keyboard during the conversation unless part of the process. Normal keyboards, especially on notebooks, are a clatter and imply your mind may be elsewhere.
9. Some on-screen behaviours almost draw attention to themselves with greater distraction than if seen in-person. So resist chewing your pen, tugging your ears, playing with your notes, etc.
10. If you have a resume to work with, keep it slightly to one side so it doesn’t become a distraction.