The job seekers of today often encounter a type of interview that those of an older generation would’ve never have imagined: the webcam interview.
Webcam interviews can take place on a number of platforms, including Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or even GoToMeeting.
What is less clear to many is how one should conduct themselves on a webcam interview. This post will discuss preparation and etiquette for a webcam interview, along with some general dos and don’ts.
As a first order of business, it is important to know how to use the software you’re going to be using for the interview.
You by no means need to be a savant, but knowing basic functions— adding a contact, starting and ending a call, adjusting volume, etc.— are musts.
Also, you will want to make sure that you can find a quiet and mess-free place to conduct the call. Having a distracting background, whether this is in terms of excess noise or visual clutter, can lead to a less successful interview.
Many modern laptops, tablets, and smartphones come with an internal webcam, but if your device of choice doesn’t have one, it is imperative to look for a high-quality external webcam. If you use your webcam frequently, it is wise to wipe its surface to keep it clean.
A final major consideration that must be taken into account is lighting. Natural lighting is ideal; illuminate your face by placing two lights, one on each side of yourself, at a 45-degree angle.
Preparation and During the Interview
By and large, the actual preparation for the meat and potatoes of a webcam-based interview does not differ from a conventional interview.
You will want to do research on the company for which you’re interviewing; you will want to practice questions you could be asked; and you will want to have questions prepared to ask at the end.
The great thing about a webcam interview is that it allows you leniency that a conventional interview does not.
For example, you can take a script or key points that you intend to touch upon during the interview, and paste them either on your computer’s screen or physically on a nearby surface to easily refer to.
While the company at which you’re interviewing may either encourage, discourage, or simply be ambivalent about referencing material, there is little they can do about it.
During the interview, you should always look into the camera. This is no different than a conventional interview; you want to make eye contact.
Body language during the interview is also key. Don’t hunch over your computer screen, don’t cross your arms, and don’t do any sudden or unnatural gestures.
You should dress in the same way as you would for a formal interview. This means professional attire, although a brighter-colored dress shirt is often advisable due to the differences with how one will often appear on camera.
Be warm, approachable, and smile on camera; once again, nothing different from how you should normally act during an interview.
What Not to Do
There are a handful of additional things unmentioned that you should absolutely avoid during a webcam interview.
- Having an inappropriate or unprofessional username on the account used for the interview. The same goes for any status updates and pictures associated with your profile.
- Letting other computer windows or programs distract you during the interview.
- Wearing revealing clothing— e.g. anything that shows excess skin.
- Moving around too much. Don’t twist, turn, or swivel in your chair.
- Talking over the interviewer at any point.
- Shaking your screen or camera at any point. Put your webcam on a stable surface.
It’s important to remember that since webcam interviews are a relatively recent medium to use, it’s perfectly normal for both the interviewer and interviewee to feel nervous.
If you can demonstrate a calm and collected demeanor, this goes a long way. It can make you appear to have poise and leadership qualities, while also showing you’re able to adapt to different situations.
It’s also important to have a backup plan should your screen or audio freeze, or the call otherwise does not continue successfully.
One tip for this type of situation is to clarify prior to the interview whether using the phone or another medium is appropriate. At the very least, you want to have the interviewer’s phone number or email to be able to contact them as to a backup plan should a video call fail.
Ultimately, a webcam interview should be a welcomed type of interview in most cases. As long as you have the proper environment and equipment, and treat it like any other interview, you should be good to go!