We have considered elsewhere the steps to take in order to maximise your chances of success at interview (see Fifteen Steps to Interview Success), but below we look at some additional tips to consider when that interview is conducted by video-conference (VC).
Normal interview etiquette applies but in order to appear at your best over a VC link we would recommend that you:
* Avoid strong patterns or stripes as these can be distorted on screen;
* Avoid dressing entirely in one colour – some contrast is good;
* Avoid very bright or stark colours.
Although there will always be technical support on hand, we would recommend arriving 15-20 minutes before the VC is due to start in order to ensure that you are comfortable with the room and any technical requirements (look particularly for the mute button).
Also ensure that you know who to speak to and where they will be if there are any technical problems.
There is often a slight delay on a VC link and it can take a few minutes to get used to. The best way to negate this is to allow a short pause after someone has finished speaking before replying. The microphones should be sensitive enough for you to speak in your normal voice as if the other party were in the room. Of course it pays to speak clearly but you should not need to dramatically slow your speech pattern or increase your volume.
As the microphones are sensitive, avoid any unnecessary noise such as tapping a pen, shuffling papers etc. These things can sound much louder on the other end. If necessary, remember you can use the mute button.
The camera will usually be above the screen. We would recommend that you ‘make eye contact’ with the screen as if the interviewers were sat in the room. You do not need to look at the camera itself.
Avoid unnecessary movements or gestures, particularly quick movements, as they will appear as a blur on the screen at the other end.
If there are any problems during the VC (for example the picture freezes or connection is lost), there is no need to panic. Explain clearly what problem you are having (they may still be able to see/hear you) and that you will speak with the technician. Then press mute and go to get help.
In the unlikely event that the connection goes down and cannot be retrieved, consider whether you can continue the conversation on the telephone. Not ideal but offering this as a solution shows willing and might avoid the need for a repeat VC.
Without the body language or even handshake that usually comes at the end of an interview, it is easy to stutter at the end. We would simply recommend that as things reach a close, you summarise any key points, thank the interviewers for their time, express your interest in their firm and ask about the next stage.
Finally, please remember to mute the microphone as soon as the conversation is finished. The other parties may stay in the room and until you are sure the connection is closed, remain on
Notwithstanding the above practical tips, perhaps the most important advice of all is to be as natural as you can and conduct the interview, as much as possible, as if you were in the same room. Prepare for the as you would any other and don’t let any discomfort with the technology distract you from giving the strongest possible impression of yourself.