Elizabeth Varrenti currently serves as the Vice President of Professional Development at MATRIX. Since starting with MATRIX in Atlanta in 1998, Elizabeth has fulfilled numerous roles including: Account Executive, Recruiter, Sales and Recruiting Team Lead, Director of National Recruiting and Vice President of National Accounts Delivery. A graduate of SUNY Geneseo, Elizabeth resides in Rochester, NY.
5 Tips to Ace your Next Video Interview
Welcome to the new world, where video interviews are a reality with more than 60 percent of hiring managers now using them in some way to more quickly and efficiently screen candidates.
Why the trend?
Whether using a prerecorded one-way video interview with preselected screening questions or conducting a two-way Skype interview, IT hiring managers are finding the process saves time, money, and more quickly helps them identify their top candidates for a face-to-face meeting. If you haven't done a video interview yet, don’t be shocked if you are asked to do one in your next job search. Much of the same advice for regular in-person interviews also applies to a video interview, but there are some unique aspects of the interview you need to be prepared for.
Whether you are recording a one-way video interview or a two-way Skype call, practice filming yourself talking about your resume as a way to warm up to the camera. Think of some of the commonly asked interview questions and rehearse your answers, looking directly into the camera. Don’t forget to smile!
Questions such as “Tell me about your background” or “Please explain why you are a fit for this position” are good questions to practice with. Practice with your recruiter, a friend or family member over Skype to see how you look and sound. Your recruiter will be able to coach you on your presentation and may be able to share some of the hiring manager’s “hot buttons”.
Check for technical issues such as internet bandwidth and noisy feedback. Get that all ironed out before the actual call so you can ensure there are no technical glitches.
Like any other interview, dress for success and keep the mood professional, even if practicing with a friend. Make sure, however, that you have researched the company and get a feel for their culture on their website. Your three-piece suit from the last wedding you attended may not work with the laid-back technology startup you are talking to!
2. Handle Technical Issues like an IT Pro
It will happen when you least expect it: the dreaded “poor connection” pop-up or strange extraterrestrial sounding echo in the middle of your interview. How you handle it will show your potential employer how you deal with stress. After all, IT pros know something unexpected can happen at any time and this is a good way to showcase your cool head. “Excuse me, we seem to have a poor connection, would you mind if we disconnect and call back?” It is critical that you do not get flustered or show impatience.
3. Prepare your Background
Proper lighting and background are important to consider. Natural lighting works best. Do NOT take a Skype interview or record a video interview in your car, outdoors, or in your home with children or pets in the background making noise. (Yes, all of the above have happened with our candidates - trust us on this. Your barking dog is not cute during an interview.) Make sure you are in a well-lit, clutter-free room and there are no personal objects behind you. No one needs to be distracted by your family photos, yesterday’s coffee mug or a disorganized desktop.
4. Close out your Apps
It’s a good idea to close out any apps you have running before beginning the interview. Email or Facebook notification sounds might seem unprofessional to the interviewer and will distract you. The only thing you should have in front of you during a Skype interview is the interviewer and your resume/notes. If you are looking away from the camera frequently, you will come across as disinterested.
5. Be an Active Listener
Maintaining natural eye contact during a video interview means you look at the camera and NOT the screen. If you look at the screen, it will seem like you are staring downwards, which won't leave a good impression. Make sure you smile, nod your head in agreement and use words of acknowledgement when the interviewer is speaking such as “yes”, “ok” or “hmm”. Ask well thought out questions to show interest and preparation, but never interrupt the speaker. Asking for clarification on points he or she is making shows you are actively listening and engaged.
Last Word on Video Interviewing
Video interviewing is changing the face of IT hiring. Embracing this technology NOW will give you a unique chance to sell yourself and set yourself apart from the other candidates. Make sure you convey high interest in the position and show energy and enthusiasm in your posture and your voice. Be expressive and personable, yet professional. IT hiring managers we work with consistently tell us that the best video interviews happen with candidates who are visibly prepared and able to highlight how their experience matches the specific requirements of the position.