Video Interview Etiquette

While video conference interviews have been used in the past, they are becoming more commonplace.  Since more companies are planning to change more to a work-from-home model, the use of video conference software for interviews is going to become more frequent and widespread.

As always, an interview is a time where you get to shine and show the interviewer what you bring to the table.  It is also your time to interview them to see if the company is the right fit for you.  You always want to make a good and lasting impression during an interview. How can you do that over a video call?  The first step is to know video conferencing etiquette and more specifically knowing the etiquette specific to interviewing over video conferencing

Do not take chances with your camera or microphone

Even if you video call or conference every day, you should not take any chances with your computer or equipment before an interview.  Get to your computer well before your scheduled time so you can set up your space and, more importantly, give your audio and video capabilities a test run.  You can use the camera app on your computer or use the diagnostic tools built into most conferencing software, but nothing beats an actual call.  Call a friend to test your equipment and set your volume and sound levels, so you do not have to play with them during the call.  If your camera is a free-standing USB camera and not built-in like most laptops have, move the camera to a place where you can look at the screen and into the camera at the same time. 

The best place, just like the cameras built into laptops, in the center just above the monitor, is the best place.  If you have multiple monitors adjust the monitors to you are facing one of them directly without having to turn your head or look off to the side to see the interviewer.

Resolve all these logistical issues and troubleshoot any problems well before the interview, so you are not rushed and flustered, and do not have to waste any time once the call starts.  This includes making sure your internet connection is stable.  If possible, get off of Wi-Fi and use a network cable plugged directly into the router.  Take as much risk out of the equation as possible.  You should also close all windows and applications not needed for the interview.  You may have your resume open on the screen, but all other apps or browser windows should be closed.  If you are expected to present something as a part of the interview, and you have to share your screen, make sure your background image is appropriate for the occasion.  Your best bet would be to change your background to a solid neutral color. 

Use a computer for your interview.  Avoid using a phone or mobile device.  If you must use a mobile device, make sure it is mounted and steady before the meeting starts.

Be professional.  Wear Pants

One issue that many companies and organizations have been dealing with is that while working from home is that many people are acting more casual.  With barbershops and hair salons are closed, and most people need a haircut, many people are wearing baseball caps or wearing their hair up in a way they would never have done while working in an office.  Many people are also not going to get dressed in a suit and tie while working from home, so even companies with a strict dress code are having meetings with people dressing business casual, or even casual casual.

When you are on a video call for an interview, you should still dress for the occasion.  While you might feel silly, putting on a tie or ironing your best blouse to sit in front of the computer, getting dressed for the interview still goes a long way.  The running joke in video conferencing, like the joke of the news anchor who sits behind a desk, is that you only need to dress on the top.  You can be wearing sweatpants, and no one will notice.  While you might be able to get away without wearing shoes, do yourself a favor and wear pants appropriate to the occasion.  You never know if you might have to stand at some point, and it might look awkward if you must roll out of the view of the camera before standing up.

When you dress for the interview, keep your wardrobe professional.  Avoid bright colors and make sure your room is well-lit.  You don't know the quality of the camera being used on the other side, and bright colors and a poorly lit room can mess with the video.

Be involved and engaged

If you are in an interview face-to-face with the interviewer, they can see body language, and it is easy to see that you are engaged in the process.  On video, it is more difficult to gauge the level of participation, so you need to do some things that show your involvement in the process.  You should actively smile, nod, and react to things being said to you to show you are actively listening. Don't sit so close to the camera that all you is your face.  Move back, and when appropriate, you can use hand gestures to accent your comments.

Prepare your space

Before you start your interview, as you ensuring your computer, camera, and microphone, you should also prepare your space by making sure the room around you is clear of clutter or debris that might be on camera.  Clearing clutter from your desk and around you is also a good idea even it won be on camera since clutter can be stressful, and even a simple thing like finding a pen to write with can lead to a frantic search.  If you can, close the door, so you are not interrupted by family, kids, or the dog.  Put your phone on mute, so any incoming alerts do not disturb you.  You should also print a copy of your resume and any company information you have been sent.  Also, have a pad and pen to take notes for any possible follow up interviews.

Your interview is your first step in the process, and it is one of the most important.  Keep your interactions professional and keep your comments on point and concise.  Do not go off on tangents, and do not forget that even though you are physically in your space,  you are on your interviewer's time, and you should act appropriately.