3 ways to succeed at video job interviews

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Jun 06

As a job candidate, you can work in a lot of different places in this information age. You could be based in your home city, but travel to a city in a different state to do work. Or, you could work in your home city, but your manager is in a different state. All of this happens all the time.

When, say, your hiring manager lives in a different state, how do you do the face-to-face interview? Or, instead of that cold, impersonal phone interview where there is less communication because you can’t see the other person, what do you do when you get the request to do a video interview?

Video is coming. If you don’t believe me, just check out FaceTime and see how video will change phone conversations to video conversations. The technology is there; it’s just time before video is commonplace. And time, my friends, is something you can use to prepare for this way of doing job interviews. Here are three suggestions to get you going:

1. If there is just the camera, focus on the camera and nowhere else

If the interview is between you on one side of the camera and another person on the other side of the camera, focus on the camera. If you notice all of those television talking heads, when the news gets read, there are only two places they look: into the camera or at their notes. They don’t look off to the side, they don’t look up in the air, they don’t glance sideways; no, they look into the camera or at their notes.

Now, for visual people (such as myself), looking at one place is hard. Visual people, when they think, usually look up and to the right or left — anywhere but at the subject of the question which, in this case, is the question coming from the person on the other side of the camera. I’ve done interviews for television and I can tell you that staring at that camera is hard work.

But look at it you must. If you don’t, the person on the other end automagically wants to look in the same direction you do and communication breaks. Ever see a bunch of people looking up into the sky? You look up too, don’t you? Same thing with a camera.

2. If there is a person and a camera, focus on the person, not the camera

On the other hand, you could have a person in the room with you and a person on the far end both doing the interview. In this case, if the person in the room is asking the question, answer the question to the person in the room by looking at that person. If the person on the far end asks the question, answer the question by looking into the camera. In no instance should you look at anything other than the camera or the person in the room with you for the same reasons as above.

Again, if you think of those television personalities, they will transition to a different person on the news team by looking into the camera and then turning to the person they are handing off to and looking at them. And what does the person with the handoff now do? They look at the person they are receiving the handoff from and then turn to face the camera to start their segment.

They don’t look someplace else in the studio, nor across the hall or at people walking by in the background — they look at the camera or the person.

3. Practice, practice, practice

Getting the camera right isn’t a slam-dunk the first time you do it. You need practice. This video stuff is new but will rapidly catch on as a way of replacing the phone interview. If you use Apple gear, try the calls with FaceTime or iChat. Skype is another example used for video calls. Many Instant Messaging services come with a video option. Start talking to other people using video until you are comfortable with the minimal technology to learn, facing the camera, and seeing how the video all works.

Now, you still need to show your interviewer how you are right for the job. Just don’t let that camera get in the way of your message. Your day will come when the video interview replaces the phone interview. You’ll be ready.

Have you ever done a video interview? What did you think of it?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.