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Video Interviews – Making a Great Long-Distance First Impression

Bonny Calfy | April 20, 2020

Traditionally, interviews serve as an important first step where both parties could take stock of the other in a personal, one-on-one meeting. But as technology advances, there’s a possibility your next job interview could take place via an app like Skype, Zoom or FaceTime. Without occupying the same physical space, how can you take advantage of this unconventional venue to make a solid impression? We’ve got a few ideas to help you put your best foot forward.

Treat it exactly like an in-person interview. Do everything you would do for a traditional interview, and we mean everything. When you’re picking out your clothes, wear the whole outfit, right down to your best socks and most professional shoes. This will put you in the right mindset to perform, and if you stand up, nobody will see your gym shorts. Print out your resume and have it next to you if you need to refer to it. Plan to show up five minutes early, even if this means sitting at your kitchen table five minutes before the scheduled time. We’ve heard of people who pop breath mints and bring briefcases with them to video interviews. Like a pro athlete, you’ve got to bring your A game at all times, so treat this interview as you would treat any other.

Fix all technical issues ahead of time. Picture this: You’ve got a stellar resume, a fresh haircut, and you’ve researched the company top to bottom. You’re ready to show them you mean business – but then your cat jumps on the table while your internet connection starts buffering. Sorting out simple technical issues before the interview can mean the difference between landing a job or presenting an awkward, fumbling version of yourself.

Test the connection. If they can’t talk to you, they can’t hire you. Make a few calls to friends just to get a feel for your connection, audio, lighting and framing in your chosen spot. You might need to move around your house, or possibly find a better location with a solid connection. A note on testing your setup – do it at least 24 hours before your interview. Last-minute testing will only cause you to panic about things that can’t be fixed in time.

Manage your on-screen appearance. You look great in a mirror, but your laptop camera might need some convincing. Once you’ve got decent lighting, figure out the camera angle and distance. Sit close enough to the camera that you can be seen and heard, but not so close you’re just a face filling up their screen. A good rule of thumb is to frame yourself from about mid-chest with just a bit of space over your head. You want an angle that’s straight on, as you would appear if you were sitting across a normal table from the interviewer. If you wear glasses, adjust your lighting to make sure there’s not a glare from your lenses. Find a simple background like a wall with a single picture or a well-organized bookshelf. Avoid harsh, overhead lighting and messy, disorganized spaces.

Eliminate interruptions. Put the pets outside and tell your family the interview space is completely off-limits until the interview is over. Silence your phone and shut down any other devices that may chime, beep or otherwise cause a distraction while you’re busy getting hired. This is a great time for airplane mode.

Be organized. You might think that because you’re safely at home, you’ve got everything you need. While this is generally true, don’t waste your interviewer’s time by digging through folders or clicking away on your keyboard trying to search for files. Keep everything you might need, digital or physical, organized and easily accessible.

Eye contact. It’s a classic part of selling yourself, so make an effort to maintain eye contact during your interview. In the case of video-conferencing, this means you’ll want to look into your camera, not at your screen. This might take a bit of practice, but the sense of confidence that comes from strong eye contact can’t be understated.

As technology continues to become more integrated into our lives, video interviews may become more common. With these tips, you’re sure to make a great impression. Good luck!

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s recruitment marketer team lead, Bonny Calfy writes about such topics as human capital management, company culture, talent acquisition and career advice. Her brand-awareness efforts at Paycom have included launching Paycom Careers’ blog and social media channels, and producing several recruiting videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside of work, Bonny enjoys reading, fishing and spending time with her son and husband.