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Due to the coronavirus outbreak, more companies are banning face-to-face interviews and have switched to remote interviews to minimize the risk of exposure. Even before COVID-19, video interviews were a common hiring tool to screen candidates, with nearly 60% of interviews being conducted online.
This may seem simple, but selling yourself to an interviewer through a screen comes with unique challenges. Here are some seemingly harmless mistakes that can easily be made on video.
1) You’re in a distracting environment.
What your interviewer sees or hears behind you on-screen can be just as important as what they learn about you. You are more responsible for the image you portray of yourself than you would be in a face-to-face interview.
Solution: Anticipate interruptions and eliminate distractions you can control.
Choose a quiet place to chat. You don’t want your interviewer to strain to hear what you’re saying over a loud coffee shop. You want to make sure no one is going to come through the door, or make unpleasant noises. If you have other people sharing your workspace, let them know ahead of time when you are interviewing, or make sure they’re out of the way.
2) You’re acting too casually.
Some job candidates make the mistake of thinking a video interview is more casual than an in-person meeting because the hiring manager is not in the same room. Remember to present yourself as if you are sitting physically across from your interviewer.
Solution: Signal professionalism with your dress and posture. Test how you look on a video with a friend.
Do your research on how the company dresses and ask questions. Approach it the same way you would a face-to-face interview or ask the interviewer what is the dress code, and then dress that way.
3) You didn’t test your Wi-Fi connection.
Your interview can get derailed before it even begins if you learn too late that your web browser cannot support a video call. Web browsing takes up less network bandwidth than a video call. Even though most people understand that this can happen, it signals a lack of preparation and does not make a good impression.
Solution: Test your bandwidth beforehand.
Try to video call a friend to see if your connection is fast enough. Or you can test it yourself through Speedtest, which measures the speed of the connection between your device and a test server. Skype said it takes a minimum upload speed of 1.2 mbps for an HD video call to work, and Google Hangouts said an inbound call between two people ideally takes 2.6 mbps.
4) You have bad lighting.
The advantage of video over a phone interview is getting to see facial expressions, and you don’t want to lose that with a poorly lit environment. Bad lighting means interviewers have to work harder to get visual feedback that they normally get in a face-to-face conversation.
Solution: Face natural light or move a light behind your laptop.
Try putting a light behind your computer that is facing you, and practice calling with a friend to see how you look. If the available lighting in your home isn’t ideal for your video setup, try to position yourself towards a window and let the sunlight improve the lighting.
5) You don’t maintain enough eye contact.
It’s easy to forget to look at the camera and at the interviewer in a video chat. But regular eye contact is how we signal that we are connecting with our audience.
Solution: Create reminders to look at the camera.
The best way to simulate eye contact is to try and put the interviewer’s video feed as close as you can to the camera that you’re using. This makes it look more like a natural conversation.
If you are looking down occasionally to take notes, that’s okay. It signals that you are engaged and care. You can prepare your interviewer for this by letting them know that if you look down, you’re taking notes.
You can also practice arranging your equipment so that it’s easy to look at the camera directly. Good eye-level positioning can help a candidate remove the distanced feeling of an online interview. The best way to do this is to set up your laptop so it mostly frames just your head and shoulders.
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