If you haven’t experienced a video interview yet, then it may not be long before you find yourself doing one. Why? Like video usage in general on the internet, which has moved from a nice to have to a key marketing device, the idea of conducting interviews via video is taking hold of the marketplace, to the extent that job seekers need to raise their head and listen.
If you don’t believe me, consider the research by Aberdeen Group which revealed phenomenal growth in video interviewing. Yes, their survey showed that while only 10 percent of companies used video as part of the hiring process in 2010, fourty-two percent of companies were using video in 2011 for senior executives, managers and entry level staff. We have yet to see Aberdeen Group’s 2012 update, but we can assume that video interviewing has continued to rise if the Video Interviewing Survey 2012: Trends and Insights by Green Job Interview is anything to go by, because it showed that over half of companies surveyed use some form of video interviewing.
Candidates should also be aware of the kind of video interview that they may face. The Aberdeen survey provided further useful insights into this, revealing that video interviews seem to fall into two main categories: The first is the classic “real time” interview and the second is a recorded session where candidates will receive questions from a potential employer and be required to video record their answers and send it back to them (this is done using software such as HireVue or TalkingCV).
So, what’s all the fuss about? Why I am bringing this to your attention? Well, because we are moving into a new space, and while many of your traditional interviewing skills will work well in a video interview, there are an additional set of rules of etiquette emerging that that you’ll need to develop and master if you are to present yourself effectively in a video interview format – and I have presented some of these below:
1. Optimize your environment
When conducting a video interview, make sure that you are in a private room, ideally with a door you can lock to avoid interruptions.
One of the key aspects of video is lighting so make sure the room is well lit. You may want to get a lamp and place it in front of you. (Halogen lamps are pretty good for this)
Eliminate external distractions as these can produce barriers to listening; this means close windows and shut blinds, ensure the temperature is right and make sure you are in a comfortable chair.
2. Present yourself well
Just like with a normal interview, dress in full business attire, and avoid wearing stripes or tight woven patterns just as you would in a TV situation. Also make sure that your body is centered in the camera’s view and that you are looking directly into the camera. Control the image of the interview area making sure that it is attractive, tidy and organized as this will reflect well on your personal brand. (Think of the CBS presenters News desk!).
Finally, ensure that the camera is close enough for the interviewer to clearly read your facial expressions as this will lead to a more enriched communicative experience.
3. Setting up the camera
Get a hold of a high quality web cam for the duration of the interview so the audio visual presentation is of very high quality. Set up the camera view to show a good shot of your upper body, including arms and hands. Why? A majority of communication comes from non-verbal cues, e.g. body language, so you want to ensure that the interviewer can see your body for effective communication. If you are moving your hands and arms, because you are enthusiastic about a particular topic, you want the interviewer to see that.
4. Tactics during the interview
During the interview, ensure you maintain a good posture which means sit up straight and don’t slouch. Look directly at the camera and this will appear to the interviewer that you are looking straight at them and making eye contact.
At times you may want to lean in, so you are a talking head and this can be useful as the interviewer sees your face.
Beware that video interviews can dampen a personality a little so be enthusiastic in your communication style and consider over emphasizing facial expressions such as curiosity and interest, especially when the interviewer is speaking.
Use active listening techniques to enhance communication; two that spring to mind are repeating and/or paraphrasing the question to confirm with the interviewer that you have understood their question.
5. Practice your Skype interviewing
As you would with a traditional interview, review the job description and prepare answers to likely questions based on the key person requirements of the job description. You should also craft your responses so they flow well when spoken to an interviewer, just like with traditional interviews.
Get in your interview attire and practice role playing the interview with your trusted friend and/or adviser. You should record the session and review it back and also ask for honest feedback from your reviewer, based on the points 1-4 of this article, following which you may need to make changes to your approach to video interviewing to optimize how you present yourself.
Final thoughts: I realize that video interviewing is a new phenomenon and interviewers and interviewees will be learning new techniques to improve the process for both sides – so I will welcome any further insights from job seekers or recruiters as to how candidates can improve their performance during a Skype interview.