I first posted this article in 2019....and still this has not gone away. These rules are still making/breaking interviews from both companies and candidates interviewing.
The first thing to consider is with video technology there are a variety of moving parts and you need to prepare for it to go wrong. Have a flexible mindset from the outset, be patient, and don’t fret too much about frozen screens and echoing voices.
Which leads us to the rule #1:have a phone backup. If the technology won’t work, at least a telephone interview can continue the process. For more information on how to ace a telephone interview, see Short & Sweet #12.
So you are all set for a video chat on MS Teams, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or any other video chat application. And you might be on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device. For all hardware and software, remember rule #2: opt for the fastest internet. The better your internet speed, the more pleasant your experience. However, there is no guarantee that the person on the other end of the screen will have decent internet! So see rule #1.
Here are a handful of other tips to help you succeed in your interview:
Location, location, location.
Find someplace quiet: you don’t want pets, family members, or other distractions around. Coffee shops may have good Wi-Fi, but noisy backgrounds. In a situation like this, you’re better off in a remote hotel lobby. Make sure music and television are off. If you have trains or traffic in the background, use headphones. And politely let the interviewer know that there could be a disruption during the meeting.
Lighting: natural lighting from the side is best. Good, flat, overhead lighting next best. Avoid having light behind you shining into the camera.
Appropriate background. In Japan, the reality is that our living space is smaller. A home office may also be our bedroom...and our living room too! The main point here is to keep it appropriate: drying laundry and distracting objects should be avoided. If possible, a blank background is usually best.
Prepare. Like a normal interview, you should have a notebook in front of you. You can have notes as well. Since the camera can’t see everything, it gives you a chance to have some extra notes in front of you if needed. It’s best to take notes on a separate device or pen and paper. If you’re typing on the device that you are interviewing on, then the clicking can annoy the interviewer.
Smile, you’re on camera! We know that the camera is on, but it’s often easy to forget. It’s also easy to be self-aware and look only at your face. Or stare at the image of the other person. If you can, try to look into the camera as much as possible, like a news anchor. Keep the image of the other person as close to the camera as possible. By having the two together, you make the eye contact of the conversation more natural.
Remember your body language. It’s easy when you’re on video to forget that there is another person in front of you and start playing with things on your desk or doodling. Look into the camera, sit up straight, smile.
Dress appropriately. This reminds me of this meme. For an interview, remember to dress appropriately, at least from the waist up. (If there is an earthquake and you have to stand during the interview, then you’re on your own).
For an interview, business attire is appropriate. Ties, suits, and dresses are appropriate. Remember, this is a job interview, so dress the part. Of course, being in Japan, you’ll most likely be wearing slippers, but that’s okay.
Do a dress rehearsal. If you’ve not used your hardware or software before, it’s a good idea to practice with your recruiter, friend, or family member ahead of time, making sure everything loads, the camera starts, and the microphone is working.