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How to Nail Your Next Video Job Interview

How to Nail Your Next Video Job Interview
Credit: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

Today, an increasing number of companies are using video interviews as part of their hiring process. With applicants scattered throughout various geographical regions, it's much more convenient (and cost-effective) to interview candidates using video conferencing services like Skype or ClickMeeting than it is to fly out a contender for an hour-long meeting.

"For hiring managers, … [conducting] video interviews means having the ability to make personal connections with candidates no matter how near or far they live to their company's office," said Josh Tolan, CEO of video interviewing solutions provider Spark Hire. "[It] also helps create a positive candidate experience, which is very important but often dismissed."

Tolan noted that by using video interviews, companies can streamline their hiring process to reach smarter hiring decisions faster.

"Candidates will appreciate knowing the status of their application and not feeling like they've been left hanging," he added.

While video interviews might seem less intimidating than traditional interviews, you still need to be as professional as you would in person. Because you're meeting the hiring manager through a screen, you should be especially careful how you present yourself in the short period of time spent speaking with them. Here's everything you need to know to nail your next video interview.

According to Spark Hire, there are two major types of video interviews: live video interviews and one-way interviews.

Live video interviews

As the name suggests, live video interviews allow employers and candidates to connect remotely in real-time, which offers the convenience of a phone interview with the advantage of the personal connection you can get from an in-person meeting. Employers may use video-chat services to conduct this interview; but depending on the platform capabilities, the hiring manager may be able to record the interview and share it with other colleagues involved in the hiring process. In general, phone and in-person interviews are not recorded, which gives you as a candidate the opportunity to have your great (or not-so-great) interview performance preserved.

One-way interviews

One-way interviews are becoming increasingly common among hiring managers, quickly and efficiently screening candidates. One-way interviews require applicants to respond to preset interview questions, which allows them to think through their answers and present their best selves when they submit their videos. It's also a plus for the hiring manager, who can watch the video anywhere and at any time and doesn't have to clear his or her schedule for a full-on interview.

Just like with any interview, you need to be mentally and physically ready for your video conference. Since they'll be hyper focused on you and your video, hiring managers will be aware of any red flags on your end, from inappropriate apparel to lack of understanding of the software or service being used.

"It's very important that candidates familiarize themselves with the technology because they will most likely be asked to participate in a video interview during their job search," said Tolan. "If candidates take the time to research best practices for video interviews such as proper lighting, attire and body language, they'll better their chances of getting hired."

Paul Bailo, author of The Essential Digital Interview Handbook ($14.99; Career Press, 2013), shared some specific do's and don'ts that will help you succeed in your next video interview.

Do…

  • Know how to use your software. Whether it's Skype, Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting, know how to use the technology and use it well.
  • Get a quality camera and microphone so you can look and sound great.
  • Adjust your lighting to avoid shadows or over-exposure. Soft, natural lighting is the way to go. Use two lights, one to your right and one to your left, each at a 45-degree angle.
  • Place neutral-colored paper behind you to create a professional-looking background that does not compete with your wardrobe.
  • Clean the camera lens so you don't look blurry or smudged on screen.
  • Get the right angle. Your camera needs to be at eye level.
  • Look straight into the camera. This way, it appears on the other end that you are looking right at the other person.
  • Write a script. Know what you plan to say and post it on cue cards behind the camera so you know all the key points.

Don't…

  • Be a diva. Your interview is about the other person, not about you.
  • Have an unprofessional or juvenile username.
  • Move around too much. Stay still and focused, and don't use a swivel chair.
  • Get distracted by other windows or programs. The only thing on your screen should be the other person's face.

Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Purch B2B staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.