Online Interviews

Written by Serena Berger
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There are times when traveling for an interview is financially prohibitive or geographically infeasible. Online interviews make a great alternative and are becoming increasingly common. Entry-level positions and first-round interviews are particularly conducive to the online interview format, and you should be prepared to make the most of them.

Get familiar with the equipment which will be used for an online interview. If you're using your own equipment at home, make sure that you know exactly how to light the area for an interview, exactly where to focus the camera, and what you're going to wear and what make-up you're going to use. If you'll be carrying on your part of the interview from an unfamiliar space, get there early to become familiar with the equipment, and even reposition it if necessary. Work with the technician and try different angles or seating arrangements if you're uncomfortable with the one that's set up when you arrive.

Dealing with the Logistics of Online Interviews

Whatever you do, don't look down at the camera. That's the least flattering angle. Putting the camera at eye level is the most straightforward option, and will make you look the most like you. Trying to do anything intentionally flattering (showing your "best" angle, using pink light, or--heaven forbid--using a fan) will only distract from content. If a company sends you a device to hook up to your phone to conduct the online video interview, control your environment. Make sure nothing unprofessional shows in the frame, and prevent pets from wandering by, children from talking to you, or call waiting from interrupting.

While the ideal is to be unself-conscious, you do want to check periodically for your posture. The camera emphasizes slouching or leaning, and these will make unfavorable impressions. You also have to amp up your presentation a little bit--normal enthusiasm will register as slightly less on camera, so gestures and smiles will go a long way toward making you seem more engaged.

One other thing to consider is time delay. A few seconds lapse online between when the interviewer says something and when you hear it. Always take a second to make sure it's really your turn to speak, because it gets awkward to sort out overlapping statements online. Online interviewers are used to the lapse, so don't be afraid to wait a full two seconds before replying. That will make you seem professional, not slow, and show that you listen instead of filling silences gratuitously.

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