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My Top Five Tips for an Online Job Interview

During my first few weeks as a leader at Ericsson, I set out to recruit for two positions. I am based in Mexico but these positions would be situated in Brazil. At Ericsson, we don’t fly to different locations for internal meetings, so these interviews would be done through online video conferencing. This experience made me realize how common this method would become, so I gathered a few tips on how to get the best out of a video interview – from both perspectives.

Video call

Up until I started interviewing over video, my video-chat experience consisted chiefly of online conversations with family and friends. We have always lived abroad and far from our roots, so I felt confident with this form of communication.

I thought that these friendly chats prepared me for online interviews, but I soon learned otherwise. Beyond the obvious difference that pajamas are not allowed, video chats with family are drastically different from work-related video chats.

Interviewing’s the primary thing

Video is just the channel in this case. Whether a face-to-face meeting or an online video conference, a job interview is still a job interview. Both parties must still be prepared for a structured conversation, and ready to openly and honestly communicate their wants and needs to determine if the challenges and opportunities presented are the right fit.

So what should interviewers and interviewees know before going on an interview that takes place in different cities, countries or continents? Aside from a high-speed, reliable internet connection, below is a list of my Top Five recommendations:

What, Where, and How

  1. Environment
    • If you’re the interviewer, make sure to set up your video conference in an environment where you won’t be interrupted. I also recommend having something in your surroundings that reflects your company’s culture.
    • As for the interviewee, consider what’s behind and/or around you; your outfit; and treat your meeting with the utmost professionalism.
  2. Pacing and Volume
    • As the interviewer, you’ll be setting the pace for this conversation. Through your cues, the candidate will either give long answers or short ones. I’ve found this to be more difficult on video than in person, so I recommend clearly stating how long the interview will be beforehand so the candidate can prepare for how much time should be reserved for each question. It’s also helpful to take advantage of visual cues to help the candidate know when your next question is ready to be posed.
    • If you’re the interviewee, be sure to find the right balance of volume; don’t be too loud or too quiet. I once interviewed a person who was certainly enthusiastic, but I kept having to reduce the volume. The resulting impression wasn’t so good for the candidate. I suggest testing your video-conferencing conversational skills with a friend beforehand.
  3. Eye Contact
    • This one is especially important for both the interviewer and interviewee. With our image staring back at us in the corners of our computers, it can be hard to maintain eye contact. Be sure to look into the camera as much as possible. It might even be helpful to hide the image of yourself on your screen so you don’t get distracted.
  4. Take and check your notes
    • As an interviewer, it’s perfectly acceptable to take notes during the interview. Just be sure to keep a healthy balance between writing, reviewing your notes, and maintaining eye contact with your candidate.
    • For interviewees, there is one plus side to video conferences: the ability to have a “cheat sheet”. This can help you stay concise and focused, but a reminder to use it sparingly, keeping it on hand for “emergencies.” It’s okay to look at your notes, as long as you then look back at your camera.
  5. Be yourself.
    • Both interviewer and interviewee must remember how important it is to actively practice their listening skills, acknowledge visual cues, practice asking and answering questions, as well as check your “resting face” in the mirror before your video conference.
    • For the interviewer, this is a display of what kind of leader you are, and will be a taste of what remote teamwork is like. And for interviewees, your “resting face” will be much more visible on camera than in person. Keep your energy up.

If you’ve experienced successful job interviews via video conferencing as an interviewer or interviewee, what other tips would you add to this list?


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