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How to Prepare for a Video Interview from Hirewell's Interview Experts

While the live, in-person interview is still far and away the preferred interview method for hiring companies, the video interview is becoming much more commonplace.  Hiring has become more global and with more employees working remotely, video interviewing is a way to expedite the interview process while keeping travel costs down and still allowing the interviewer to meet the candidates “face-to-face”.

Interviewing this way can be very intimidating, even for those who use this technology on a regular basis.  If you find yourself needing to take an video conferencing interview, don’t be caught off guard by preparing with our tips and advice below.

The video conference interview is exactly what it sounds like - an interview performed long distance by video conferencing.  Programs like Skype, Google Hangout and Apple Facetime are the most commonly used, but a company might have its own proprietary program as well.

Typically, video interviews are handled one of two ways; the interviewee physically goes to an office where the company has video conferencing facilities established, or the interviewee uses their own computer or camera phone, at a location of their choosing.

Like all interviews, preparation is key:

- Send any materials (resume, etc.) that the recruiter needs well in advance.

- As soon as the video interview is scheduled, ask what method is being used (Skype, etc.) so you can set up an account, learn how to use it and work on your comfort with communicating by web camera and microphone.

If the video nterview is at a company office:

Arrive with plenty of time to get situated and feel comfortable with the room and equipment.  Ask for assistance if you're not sure how to use the equipment.  Even if you think you know what you are doing or can figure it out, asking for a quick overview can eliminate any surprises.

If you are connecting with your own equipment:

Be sure to find a quiet place with a strong internet connection where you will not be interrupted. Usually people will choose their home, but this might not be the best option for you.  Test your connection well in advance and again before the interview (with plenty of time to change locations if there is a problem).  Remove pets and turn off the ringer on your phone, or put it on silent mode.

What to Wear:

- Dress professionally from head to toe.  Don’t assume the interviewer won’t see your pants, you never know if you’ll need to stand up.  In general, you should dress as you would for an in-person interview, however, there are definitely some caveats to keep in mind:

- Try to avoid all-dark or all-light clothing as a camera's automatic brightness control can be tricked by these.  For example, if your clothing is too light, the camera might automatically darken the picture and your face could appear in a shadow.

- Pastel colors are safer than white because white can cause a glare.  If you do wear white, add a dark jacket to cut down on the glare.

- Avoid loud prints which may be exaggerated on the screen and flashy jewelry that can catch the light.  Avoid the color red if possible, as it may "bleed”.

Prepare your Surroundings:

- Ensure the wall behind you, your surrounds and the table you are sitting at are clean and neat.  This will eliminate distractions for both you and the interviewer.  Position the camera close enough to you so that you are taking up most of the picture. 

- Have the lighting in front of you, ideally, somewhat above you.  Or, open the curtains and shades to let the outdoor light in so that the light shines on your face.  Make sure the light isn’t reflecting off a window or picture behind you.  Consider stretching a plain blanket or sheet behind you, to create the illusion of a blank wall, if you don’t have one.

- Be aware that the microphone picks up all the noise around you.  Close any open windows and avoid shuffling papers or tapping your pen.

- Make “eye contact” by looking directly at the camera and not at your computer screen.  Use the Picture-in-Picture feature so you can see how you look to the interviewer.  

- Avoid too much body motion as this can create blurry or jumpy images for the interviewer.

The Interview Process:

- Treat a video interview like any other.  Expect the same type of questions you would over the phone or in-person, and come prepared with your own to ask.  Keep your resume and a copy of the job description, plus any other documents you may need, spread out in front of you for easy reference.

- Be yourself and speak naturally, as you would in-person.  However, be aware of the half-second transmission delay that you will likely encounter, and pause appropriately.

The Bottom Line:

- Video-based interviews can pop up for candidates at all levels.  If one comes up for you, just follow the advice above and you’ll avoid any problems that may arise.  And just like with normal interview preparation, the best thing you can do is take some practice runs with friends or family. 

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