How to Handle that Awkward Video Interview
February 25, 2016

How to Handle that Awkward Video Interview

by Brian de Haaff

That sure is a handsome-looking pup you have there. He looks like a great companion and he is probably a ton of fun to hike with! But when he starts barking in the middle of our video interview, it’s not so great for either of us.

As more companies embrace remote work, more job-seekers will experience a video interview for perhaps the first time. In fact, a survey found 63 percent of companies with more than 20 employees use video interviews frequently. So, you might need to get ready for your close-up. And I am not talking about cosmetics.

I think that the growing use of video interviewing speaks to the power of distributed work as a way of life. It makes it easier for distributed teams like Aha! to hire the best candidates from across the U.S. And the best candidates get to work where they are happiest.

But remote interviewing and video meetings can be disconcerting at first for the jobseeker.

We understand there is a definite learning curve for people who are new to the experience. But then again, we have so many video meetings that it’s second nature to us. And while some distractions make us human, too many distractions suggest we are thoughtless.

When you take part in a video interview, you have to be prepared for anything — the meeting software suddenly crashes or your power fails. When the unexpected happens, you just have to roll with it. But luckily there are some factors that are within your control — and can make the experience better for everyone.

You can better your chances for a solid video interview and getting the job by learning what not to do ahead of time. So please do not:

Meet in a noisy environment
You do not want the interviewer to hear your whimpering dog or the TV in the background. Video interviews require a quiet room with a door so that you can shut out the noise of the surrounding space. The peace and quiet will help you be less nervous and concentrate on the conversation.

Allow distractions
You need privacy and the assurance of no interruptions during your meeting time. So, if you have young kids, arrange for a babysitter for a few hours so you will not worry about what your kids are up to behind your closed door. Mute your phone and other devices (because this will be the time that your best friend decides to call.)

Avoid eye contact
You will look uncomfortable during your interview if you avoid making eye contact (or the appearance of eye contact). While it may feel awkward at first to look directly into your camera, it is important to be looking forward. This will give you the best chance to make a positive connection and establish trust.

Talk too fast
If you turn into a fast-talker when you get nervous, it will be hard for the interviewer to keep up. So take a deep breath and slow down, taking time to think before answering. And do not talk over the other person; instead, wait for a second or two of silence to deal with any audio delay and watch for cues before you start speaking.

Ignore your internet connection
If you have a slow internet connection, maximize the internet you have in advance. Make sure no one is streaming movies or music in your house during your interview. Choose the room with the most reliable signal. And close all unnecessary windows on your desktop except for the meeting software.

You want to be at your best during a video interview and you do not want anything to detract from who you are as a potential candidate.

Knowing what not to do during a video interview — and skillfully handling yourself when the unexpected crops up — will send a positive signal to the hiring manager that you are professional and prepared for remote work.

Once you can handle a video interview like a pro, that will be one more skill you can confidently add to your toolbox.

What other tips can you share for a smooth remote interview?

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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