The higher up the IT career ladder you climb, the more likely it is you’ll be going for positions in further flung locations. Gone are the days of flying out to meet potential employers in person – these days the odds are you’ll be put through your paces via a Skype or Google Hangout video interview, especially at earlier stages of the process. It’s important to remember that remote interviews present their own, distinct set of challenges that are commonly overlooked. Here are our top tips for success:
First impressions matter
As in live interviews, the first few seconds of interaction with a potential employer can make an enormous and lasting impact. The initial part of an interaction is all about nonverbal communication: make sure you maintain eye contact from the off, nod and smile confidently at the start and roll your shoulders a few times to ensure your posture is up to scratch.
Dress for success
While it’s obviously essential to dress appropriately and professionally, you actually need to think slightly more carefully about the right outfit for video interviews than in-person ones. Bright colours (such as reds, purples etc) are far too distracting for video, as are chunky watches or shiny jewellery: stick with blues or browns for the calmest, most serious impression. It’s also a bad idea to show too much skin – bear in mind that a top that looks wonderful in real life can look far too daring when the interviewer is only seeing you from the chest up.
Check your surroundings
Make sure you look behind you at the backdrop your recruiter/s will see during the interview, and check that lighting is as soft and even as possible and doesn’t glare (usually a position away from a window is best.) Clutter is far from ideal either – it’s best to conduct proceedings in as neutral and ordered an environment as possible. Potential interruptions should be minimised too, book a babysitter or petsitter if necessary and switch off any other applications on your computer that might make intrusive noises at inopportune moments.
Practice makes perfect
If you possibly can, it’s a good idea to do a mock Skype interview with a trusted friend. They can record the meeting, giving you valuable insight as to how you appear on screen, as well as check for any unforeseen pitfalls you may be falling into. This is also an excellent way to make sure your camera and eyeline are correctly aligned with where you plan to sit, and you can do as many dry runs as you like so you feel much more confident with your screen presence on the day.
Be an active listener
During the interview, make sure you keep your eyes on the camera and don’t get distracted by the ‘mini you’ in the corner of the screen. It’s all too easy to look like a frozen version of yourself during virtual interactions, so try to get the balance right between sitting stock still and over-gesturing while the interviewer is speaking (again, a rehearsal is invaluable for this). As you would in real life, insert the odd ‘mmm’ and ‘I see’ to ensure that you come across as focussed and engaged.