The ever-evolving technology market affects nearly every facet of our lives.  Seemingly, nothing is immune to tech upgrades – not even the hiring process.  Many organizations are turning to Artificially Intelligent (AI) – enhanced video screening to make recruiting and access to interviewees easier.

Through the utilization of HR technology, powerhouse companies such as Hilton and Under Armour have been able to drastically decrease the time that it takes to fill positions.  In the case of Hilton, Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report found that its’ recruiting cycle shrunk from six weeks to a mere five days through the utilization of video screening.  UA had similar results; it was able to fill retail positions 35% faster. Shockingly, hiring time may continue to decline even further as new advancements such as facial recognition and natural language processing are utilized to automatically vet candidate answers, efficiently and quickly weeding through applicant pools.  Given the benefits of video screening, it is likely that the prevalence of video job interviews will continue to rise, making it imperative to sharpen online interviewing skills.

Video interviews are extremely awkward and present many challenges that do not exist in traditional interviewing situations.  For instance, googling perfect answers to questions may seem like a great idea, but keyboard clicking may clue in your interviewer, nixing your chances at landing the job.  Even if you are a tech savant, it is necessary to thoroughly prepare for a video interview just as you would for an in-person meeting.  On the other hand, you may be a bit camera shy and dread being videoed, but there is no reason to fear.  The following information can help everyone from the overly confident techie to the video-phobic interviewee ace a job interview.

Types of Video Interviewing

It is important to know what you are going to be up against.  There are two main types of video interviews: live and pre-recorded.

Live video interviews are typically conducted through video-conferencing programs such as SkypeGoogle Hangouts, Zoom, or some other similar platform.  In most cases, you will receive a link or the interviewer will call your user id and, much like an in-person interview, you will be asked questions and the hirer will self-assess your responses.

Alternatively, a company may take a different approach and utilize a system that has built in analytics that can track or screen candidates.  Platforms such as HireVue, Convey IQ, and Spark Hire provide features that allow employers to compare, track, share, rate responses and perform a myriad of other various functions. While the candidate experience will appear almost identical to regular videoconferencing, the interviewer will be utilizing the platform to vigorously analyze your answers in the background.

Rivs, Wepow, and VidCruiter are asynchronous interviewing platforms, allowing interviewers to send pre-recorded questions.  Candidates will be given a specified amount of time to answer each question and will have a couple of tries to make sure that they convey the perfect answer.  Comparatively speaking, prerecorded interviews will allow you to contemplate your answers instead of having to think on the fly in a live situation.

Technically Speaking

Technical issues are the last thing that you want to have happen when you are trying to impress a prospective employer.  If you have ever tried to carry on a video chat with someone that has a poor connection, you understand how aggravating it is when you can only hear every other word, cannot see the other person, or if the video drops out entirely.  However, you can avoid many equipment and software pitfalls by dedicating a small amount of time to troubleshooting.

A few days before your interview, download any applications and plugins that you may need and test all equipment to ensure that everything is working properly.  Enlist a friend to conduct a mock conference to make sure that everything functions from start to finish.  Make sure that automatic updates and notifications are turned off to limit distractions and guard against forced restarts.  Lastly, have a backup plan in place with your interviewer in case you experience technical difficulties.  Knowing that everything is in working order will help to ease your mind and keep you focused on the actual content of the interview.

Power is Everything

Sometimes the smallest things can cause the biggest issues.  Some employers are longwinded and interviews can unexpectedly drag on for long periods of time, quickly draining your precious battery life.  If you are using a laptop or tablet, make sure that it is fully charged and that you have a power cord.  If you are planning on utilizing an unfamiliar space during the interview, locate and test outlets to ensure that you can continuously power your machine.

PJs are Out

It may be tempting to combine a crisp button down and blazer with your favorite pair of pajama pants, thinking that nobody will be the wiser.  However, unexpected things happen, and angles may be a bit wider than expected, allowing an interviewer to catch a glimpse of your PJs.  Save yourself the trouble of an embarrassing situation by dressing professionally from head-to-toe.

Avoid bright or busy patterns that may be distracting and stick with neutral tones that look sophisticated.  It is also a good practice to take a seated screenshot of yourself to make sure that your outfit does not gape open or look unappealing when you sit down.

Usernames

You may be using a funny or inappropriate username or email address that you created years ago without any consideration of what it may be used for in the future, but you do not want to pass anything distasteful along to a prospective employer.  Make sure that video platform usernames, email addresses and social media handles are appropriate and convey professionalism.

Set the scene

Choosing a distraction-free zone for your interview is extremely important.  Avoid high traffic areas where children, roommate, or pets roam freely and never choose a public area such as a coffee shop.

It is easy to overlook unsightly messes in your home, but these are focal points for interviewers. Piles of laundry or desk clutter may give the false impression that you are disorganized and sloppy.  Make sure that you declutter your background to make a tidy impression.

Find a spot with ample lighting but make sure that it is not so bright that it produces glare. Illuminating your face from the front will provide a fresh and cheery appearance.  If possible, choose a location with tons of natural, soft light.

Maintain eye contact

We all understand how vital it is to make eye contact during interviews, but this can be a challenge during a video interview.  Naturally, it is easy to focus on the face of your conversation partner or your own image. Depending on where your webcam sits, this can make you appear to be looking away, conveying disinterest or weakness.  Resize the window containing the interviewer’s image and move it as close as possible to your webcam.  The closer the proximity to the camera, the greater the likelihood that it will look like you are making eye contact.

There is such a thing as too much eye contact.  Michael Ellsberg, the author of The Power of Eye Contact advises that “[t]he kind of eye contact you want to have when you go into a job interview is neither too aggressive nor too weak.  It’s walking this perfect middle line that is called confidence.” Occasionally, break eye contact for a few seconds and then reconnect to ensure that you are maintaining the perfect balance.

Friendly not fake

Too much grinning can be a bad thing.  Smiling conveys a friendly demeanor, but you do not want to over do it and come off as fake, nervous or overly-eager-to-please.  Avoid laughing at every joke or being too goofy and aim for providing sunshine in balanced doses.

Control nervous energy

Interviews can be stressful and often trigger nervous tics or twitches that you may not recognize. It is important to be self-aware during interviews to avoid mannerisms that may otherwise go unnoticed.  Record practice videos to assess what small behaviors you can tweak.  Look for overly expressive hand movements, playing with hair, touching your face, shaking your legs or tapping fingers and objects.  You will want to limit these movements as much as possible.

Even more common, you may have a nervous verbal issue that causes the repeated use of words such as “like” or “um.”  Rehearsing responses and slowing down your speech will help limit verbal slips.

Do not slouch

Because you will most likely be in a secure and familiar environment, it is easy to transition from a professional to an unprofessional appearance as the interview transpires. Posture is one way to maintain engagement and avoid looking too comfortable.

Your legs will likely remain unseen, meaning that you will not have to worry much about the positioning. Placing your feet on the ground should be adequate.  Sitting upright and keeping your back straight is very important, as this is what the interviewer will see.  Too much reclining looks unprofessional and may turn them off.  Additionally, make sure that you are facing the camera and not showing too much of the side of your face.  You can adjust your seat accordingly to ensure that you fit perfectly within the frame.

Focus on content

At the end of the day, an interviewer wants to hear what you have to say.  By taking these considerations in mind and doing a small amount of prep work, you can avoid fixating on environmental concerns and focus on how you are going to sell yourself.  A little rehearsing can go a long way and eliminating distractions will get you well on your way to acing your interview.