In the not-so-distant past, there were only two ways to interview for a job: in person or over the phone. But some employers are embracing a third option these days: video job interviews. Skype, FaceTime and video chat applications have made it easy and cost-effective for hiring managers to “meet” and consider design job candidates in other cities or countries.
While a real-time video interview is similar to a traditional meeting in many ways, there are some unique issues to consider. For instance, when speaking with a creative director face to face, you wouldn’t have to worry about your browser crashing, your battery dying or your dog barking.
If you haven’t yet done a Skype job interview, there’s a good chance you might do one at some point in the near future. This is especially true if you’re conducting a long-distance job search or planning to relocate for the next phase of your design career. Here are some video job interview tips to ensure you make a good impression:
1. Hold a rehearsal.
Understandably, you might find it nerve-wracking to be interviewed on camera. After all, you’re applying for a job in design, not broadcast news.
Help calm jittery nerves by doing a trial run with a friend. Record the mock interview so you can watch yourself on camera, and ask your friend to point out any potential problems. Are your webcam and microphone working properly? Is the area well lit, or is a shadow covering part of your face? Is an inappropriate poster or pile of dirty laundry visible in the background?
From a performance perspective, did you convey self-confidence by sitting up straight and smiling? Or did you slouch and fidget nervously? Did you maintain eye contact by remembering to look at the camera instead of your computer monitor? Rehearsing will help ensure you present yourself with polish when it’s showtime.
2. Reduce distractions.
Unexpected interruptions can break your train of thought and derail a conversation. Guard against this by making any housemates aware of the fact you’ll be doing a video job interview and should not be bothered.
Post a note on your front door so neighbors or delivery people don’t ring the doorbell at an inopportune time. Close the windows, and keep pets out of the room. And finally, turn off all your mobile devices, email notifications and any other tech devices that could distract you or make noise.
3. Dress to impress.
Play it safe and dress as you would for an on-site job interview. Don’t assume you’ll only be visible from the waist up. You really don’t want to be remembered as the guy who wore a jacket for the job interview but stood up to grab some papers, revealing his ratty pajama pants.
Along the lines of fashion choices, keep in mind that certain colors (orange, red and pink, especially) can come across as overpowering online, while stripes and herringbone patterns can create a “strobe” or flickering effect in videos.
4. Send the right message.
Like the email address you use to communicate with a prospective employer, your user ID for the service you’re using should be professional, not goofy (PixelFreek) nor straight-up inappropriate (HottyDesigner69). If you already have a Skype account with a questionable ID, you can’t change it; you’ll need to create another account.
While you won’t be asked to connect via webcam by every potential employer, you never know when that occasion might arise. Take these basics of video interviews to heart well ahead of time so you’re not caught unprepared.