I've just been asked to go to a local Kinko's for a video interview with an executive recruiter doing a search for a job I'd like to land. I've never participated in a video interview before -- do you have any suggestions on how to handle it?
First and foremost, relax and be yourself!
Second, as with any interview, do your homework on the company and industry and be prepared to discuss the value you will bring to the organization, especially in relation to any challenges the company may face that you know about.
Third, consider the advice below culled from a survey on videoconferencing conducted for ExecuNet's Executive Insider. Readers were asked to share their experience and "lessons learned" from the videoconference experience. The response was overwhelming -- tips, problems, predictions, stories of good and bad experiences, questions and concerns.
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Here's a brief summary of the best advice for you.
Arrive at the videoconferencing facility at least 30 minutes in advance to make certain that the connection can be made with the other facility. Become comfortable with the room and the layout. If you have never used a video console, practice beforehand in case you need to mute or move the camera.
Request or present an agenda so there are no surprises during the interview. Prepare notes of topics or points you want to cover during the interview. In the video room you can arrange to keep them in sight yet out the camera's view.
Try to line up the camera and the monitor so they are above one another; this way you can view the monitor without having the interviewer look into your ear. Adjust the height of the chair. You want to be as high as you can without looking like you are sitting on a stool because most cameras are mounted high-up giving the interviewer the impression of looking down on you. TV is a close-up medium where eye contact is important. Adjust the camera so it is set for a medium close-up, i.e., middle of the upper arms on up to just over the top of the head.
Know the planned length of the interview. Watch the time. Make sure that the planned agenda gets covered in the allotted interview time. Be prepared with your questions and keep them concise.
Several readers noted the 3+/-second delay in most video transmissions that cause you and the interviewer to trip over your lines. Be patient and wait until the question or thought is complete, and then respond. Don't worry about pauses; use a small hand gesture to indicate you're finished.
Wear solid colors (dark suit, white shirt, good knot in the neck tie) because this is less distracting on video. Keep movement to a minimum -- it doesn't often show up well on the receiving end.
Good posture and distinct speech are even more important in a video interview. As much as possible, look directly into the camera lens, not at your notes, and especially not the monitor that shows yourself. Be conscious of your hands and anything that shows in the monitor.
Smile. Warmth and interest can be detected, so try to be your charming self. Unless of course you are a grouch, in this case, fake it. (My personal favorite!)
Hope this is helpful.
Dave Opton is CEO and Founder of ExecuNet, an online career services center for executives. Questions can be sent to Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org, he can't answer each individually but look for yours in an upcoming column.