Taking your interview online | Skype, camera, action!

Good recruiters have long understood the immeasurable benefits of meeting their candidates face to face, but with ever increasing geographies and expanding workloads to contend with, skype and other VoIP’s (Voice over Internet protocol) have become invaluable tools in the recruitment process.

Hiring managers are tackling similar challenges, and an on-line meeting enables them to pre-screen interesting applicants within a short space of time, retain their engagement and ensure only the best make it through to the next stage.

As a result, having to face the mini camera is something most of us will experience at some point, but what do you do if you’re asked to attend one of these virtual but vital meetings?

Firstly, it’s important to take it as seriously as you would a face to face interview, and that means undertaking the necessary preparation:

  • Have a practice run: This is especially true if you’ve not used an online video platform before. The last thing you want to do is spend the first ten minutes of your meeting battling with a technological hitch or looking at the camera from the wrong angle. Ask a friend to get involved and gain some familiarity around how it all works.
  • Choose a suitable location: Much of this will depend on where you will be when the interview goes ahead, but you should aim to find a quiet space where there will be no interruptions. This includes phones, coffee machines or anything else that could prove a distraction for you or the panel. You should also make sure the space behind you looks neat, tidy and professional. Extend this mentality to food, drinks or additional technology by limiting what you take in with you to a glass of water, pen and paper.
  • Choose suitable attire: You may not be meeting the interviewer in person but you should still dress in a way that conveys your professionalism.  It will have the added effect of helping to put you in the right frame of mind and will reassure the person at the other end that you are taking the opportunity seriously. (But, if it makes you feel more comfortable – nobody will see your slippers under the desk!)
  • Do your research: Once you’ve mapped out the physical and technological aspects of the event you should turn your attention to preparing for the interview itself. This should mirror the protocol you would extend to any face to face meeting, so research the company, take your time to understand the dynamics of the role, and come up with some insightful, relevant questions that you can ask on the day that showcase your passion for the opportunity.

Once you’ve mastered your prep, it’s time to think about what happens when you’re in-front of the camera.

  • Eye contact and body language: It’s vital to engage with your interviewer in the same way as you would in a face to face meeting. Make eye contact, smile and use positive body language such as positioning yourself towards the camera, sitting up straight, and maintaining a relaxed, open stance. Resist the temptation to tap your fingers, play with your hair or cross your arms all of which will distract and deter the other person.
  • Pace, patience and positivity: Speaking to someone over a live video link is always going to be a slightly strange experience so take this into consideration and don’t be tempted to talk over the other person or jump in with the first thing that springs into your head. Your aim is for them to see the very best of you and this can only be achieved if you slow down, listen to their questions and communicate in a positive, upbeat manner.
  • Cover off objectives and confirm the next stage: Once the interview has come to a close you have two primary objectives. Firstly, make sure the interviewer is happy with your answers by asking if they are left with any concerns. If they are, then this is your chance to overcome them and maximise your chances of taking the process further. Secondly, ask them about what happens next with particular reference to feedback and timelines around further interviews. Not only will this help you gauge how interested they are but it will enable you to manage your own time and your expectations.
  • Say thank-you: It’s a simple thing, but thanking an interviewer for their time leaves everything on a positive, professional note.
  • Wait until the hiring manger has logged off: You can then close things down, take a deep breath and run to the coffee machine for a well-earned hit of caffeine.

Learning how to present yourself online may seem daunting, but using FacetimeSkype , Google Hangouts , VoxOx, Jitsi or any of the VoIP platforms is easy to master and can provide a wonderful opportunity for you to get to grips with the organisation and the role at a time that won’t compromise your working day.