Debbie lives in Seattle, where she is a 56-year-old Marketing Manager. She just called seeking some Interview Coaching because T Mobile had changed her in-person interview to an online one. She started out saying, “I really want this job. I’ve been prepping, but with the coronavirus spreading here in Seattle, T Mobile has now asked its employees to work from home. That’s why my interview is changed and now going to be online. I’m rather camera shy. Can you help me get ready, so I don’t blow this chance?”
Since I live in Seattle, I understood her dilemma. With so many local employers now asking employees to work from home, online interviews with start popping up here and in other parts of the country dealing with this health issue. In a survey put out by OfficeTeam, it was discovered that 63% of human resource managers use or have used video interviewing recently in the hiring process. Moreover, 13% of hiring managers plan on using it even more in the future. Being on camera makes everyone nervous. It also is tricky because you can easily make mistakes. Online interviews using Skype, Zoom, or Go-To-My-Meeting have been popular in specific industries, especially for colleges and universities, for quite a while. Online or video interviews can present a new challenge to the job hunter, especially if they are over 40 and have never used this technology. Baby Boomers need to be comfortable with the technology and be able to recover if there is a tech glitch in transmission. That is much easier said than done.
Here are 7 tips to help you excel in your online interviews.
- Ask in advance all the details about this format. What format will they be using? How long will the interview be? What online service are they using? How many people will be there interviewing you? Don’t expect the interviewer to volunteer much, so ask and call back a second time if you need clarification.
- Use your Desktop or Laptop but not your phone. Phone connections can more easily drop the call and not have good reception when you want it most. You will not look good holding your cellphone, which will shake or move around as you hold it and be annoying to the viewer. Your desktop computer (first choice) and laptop are the better options.
- Don’t start by apologizing for your being unfamiliar with online technology. That is not what the employer wants to hear. It’ll make you come across as technically incompetent. Go to YouTube and watch some how-to videos on using the meeting software, whether it’s Skype or others. Practice several times using this technology, so you know how to connect, reconnect, adjust the volume, and can ensure you look good on camera.
- Pay attention to the background and lighting. Keep your background uncluttered and move all distractions, so they don’t interfere with the camera focusing on you and not the light pole growing out of your head. Be sure to be in a quiet location. A plain background is ideal. Do not be sitting on your bed as it gives a poor impression. Check the lighting to see how your face looks at the time of day you will do the interview. You want perfect lighting, so we view your face without shadows. You may need to add a lamp to one side or in front of your face but out of camera view to get your whole self well lit.
- Dress for the camera. Dress up like you would for a face-to-face interview. A suit jacket and solid shirt or blouse work best. Avoid prints or plaids as these don’t look good when viewed via a monitor. For women, make-up is appropriate. Yes, you’re on video, and you want to look your best. Review some YouTube tips from make-up experts who help you look polished and professional. Try the lipstick online to be sure it shows up and isn’t too faded or bold.
- Practice beforehand. This is a real interview, and you can land the job or lose it. You can use SKYPE with a friend to role-play the session. Your movements and nervous actions are exaggerated on video. Watch for your nonverbal clues and facial expressions. Get used to the camera. Focus totally on the interviewer and try to forget the camera. You do need to stare into the camera, so the viewer sees your eyes and not you looking down. Movements need to be slow. Best not to move around too much. Your poise and self-confidence are being assessed here. Be sure to exude these traits and smile often. Show interest and enthusiasm for the job.
- Write out your answers. Review the questions you are likely to be asked. Many will require an example to answer. Write out answers. You can craft the best response when you aren’t on the spot. Think through work examples and pick the better ones that make you shine in the employers eyes.
Robin Ryan, Contributor, Forbes, 10 March 2020.