The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

May 19, 2017

The Race to Video Interview Victory


In 2017, video job interviews are hardly a new phenomenon. Hiring managers have used the screening method since about 2003 with Skype, according to Brandies University. More than a decade later, there exist a multitude of free and paid products for virtual connections between employers and candidates. Their use has become an incredibly common part of the hiring process.

Despite video interviews’ mainstream popularity, many job-seeking professionals have not participated in one and are, perhaps, intimidated by the practice. As we’ll explain, succeeding a video interview does not require many new skills, nor should it wrack one’s nerves. To perform well, all you need is a bit of information, preparation, and practice.

A video interview marks a middle ground between an in-person meeting and a phone screen. Like in a face-to-face conversation, appearance is critical, but certain aspects of it are invisible, like a handshake or posture while standing. Though more interactive than a phone screen, candidates have the option to refer to notes and can forget the stress of meeting strangers in person in an unfamiliar setting. Also like a phone call, video screenings can be scheduled relatively quickly with greater flexibility.

Nonetheless, you may be a self-proclaimed expert with both phone and face-to-face interviews and still risk performing poorly in a video interview. Abacus Group’s Matt Vanderheyden, Administrative Support Division Manager—who partners with both clients candidates to achieve hiring goals in clerical, administrative, and executive support—shares guidance for impressing in video interviews.

X Marks the Ideal Location

Far too many people think they can pull off an interview in a noisy, public place like a coffee shop. Instead, use your home, a friend’s home or office, your car, or—if possible at your workplace—a private conference room where you’ll be interrupted. 

Keep the Spotlight on Yourself

Your setting’s interior should be fairly plain and nondistracting. Avoid sitting directly in front of colorful artwork, next to another person, or in a messy room. The goal is to keep all eyes on you, not something in the background, so you are as memorable as possible to the interviewer.

Perform Thorough Technical Testing

Technical difficulties are frustrating—and unprofessional. Your interviewer will let send you information on the platform in advance, so it’s wise to conduct a test run from at least two devices (e.g., your iPad and your smartphone) in advance of the call. Better yet, practice with a friend to familiarize yourself with the settings and visual quality.

Dressing Up is Not Optional

Dress just like you would for an in-person interview (at least from the waist up). Speaking on video from the comfort of your home is no excuse to wear pajamas or sloppy clothing. Your face and upper body will be clearly visible on the interviewer’s screen, so dress, smile, and style your hair to impress.

Maintain Eye Contact as You Would In Person

Relying on notes or your resume like you can on a phone screen is tempting. However, maintaining strong eye contact—via the camera, not the screen—is paramount to an impressive performance. If you must glance at notes occasionally, that’s ok, but remember to give the interviewer as much respect as you would if he or she was sitting across the table from you.

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