When an employer invites you to a video conference interview, it's easy to think that the rules are different than they might be for a traditional interview. After all, you don't have to travel to the office, and you won't really be sitting face to face. However, that mistaken assumption could cost you the job. A video conference interview is in some ways even more demanding than an in-person interview.
For an in-person interview, you already know how to walk into a room and shake hands. On a video conference interview, though, you need to know how to work your technology. Before the interview, test your setup with a friend or colleague to ensure you know how to log in to the service and how to set your camera and microphone. In addition, you need to have a fast enough connection to let you see your interviewer and to let her see you. Make your video conference calls from a high-speed Internet connection and, if possible, connect your computer over Ethernet instead of over a Wi-Fi connection.
Clothing and Appearance
Dress as if you're going to an in-person interview. Just because the camera only shows you from the chest or shoulders upward doesn't mean you should leave off the bottom half of your pantsuit. The camera may fall to reveal your entire outfit, plus your blouse and jacket will fit better if you wear the complete outfit. Choose clothing that looks good on camera. Fine details can end up causing patterns on screen that are distracting, so solid colors are best. In addition, a broad range of brightness -- like wearing a black jacket and white top -- can confuse the camera. Select clothing of moderate color and brightness so that it doesn't detract from you. Finally, set your camera so that you are at eye level with it. This makes you look like you are talking directly to the interviewer.
Controlling Your Environment
In a video conference, it's up to you to control what the interviewer sees and hears. Eliminate distracting sounds by shutting off your cell phone and home phone's ringer, keep pets out of the room, and close any additional programs on your computer. Select a clean and uncluttered space. While the interviewer may not see what is below your hands on your desk, she will see what is behind you. Finally, set up a videoconferencing account with a professional name so that the interviewer won't have a negative impression of you before you even get started.
Interview Rules Apply
All of the same etiquette rules that you'd follow during an in-person interview apply to a video conference interview. Start by signing into the interview early, just in case. Remember to point the camera at your eyes. Just as in a regular interview, your body language and facial expressions will be part of how the interviewer judges you. (ref 3) When the interview is over, follow up as directed and send a thank you card to each person who took part in the conference.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.