5 mistakes to avoid in a FaceTime or Skype interview

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An increasing number of interviews these days happen either via FaceTime or Skype. If you haven’t had one yet, you certainly will in the not too distant future.

To ensure that you come across as your most professional self, here are 5 mistakes you should avoid when doing a video interview.

1. Not exchanging phone numbers

You never know what will happen on the day of the interview. I’ve experienced situations where there are technical difficulties or the hiring manager is running late and I need to speak with the candidate. It’s also happened that everything is running smoothly on our side, however the candidate is not answering our attempts to connect.

For this reason, it’s important to ensure that the employer has the best phone number to reach you on the day of the interview and that you have theirs. While most video interviews do go smoothly, you want to ensure a backup method of communication in case there are any issues.

2. Not confirming local times

Another situation that I have encountered is misunderstanding the interview time when speaking with someone in another time zone. Generally speaking, most interviewers will communicate both times to ensure clarity for all parties. However, if you receive a confirmation with only one time, don’t assume anything.

It has unfortunately happened that a candidate completely missed the interview because they made a mistake with the time zone. We accepted to reschedule the interview, but the candidate unable to recover and make a favourable impression. You want to avoid this at all costs.

If you get a confirmation with only one time, your best bet is to respond confirming your local time and the interviewer’s local time. This way, if there is any misunderstanding, you can nip it in the bud and ensure that everyone is in the right place at the right time.

3. Skipping a test run

A mistake that some candidates have made is not testing their equipment and connection quality beforehand. For a video interview, there are 5 critical components that you need to test for:

  1. You can see the other party
  2. The other party can see you
  3. You can hear the other party
  4. The other party can hear you
  5. You have a good connection in the room in which you will be conducting the interview

My recommendation is to run a test with a friend the day before the interview. Can you see them well? Can they see you? Do you hear each other clearly? I also need to stress that you must run these tests in the room where you’ll be conducting the interview. Don’t assume that all the rooms in your house have the same connection quality. Check everything and check it again.

4. Not being aware of your surroundings

Back in March, Professor Robert Kelly gave an interview to BBC News from his home office regarding the political climate in South Korea. He forgot to lock the door to his office and what ensued was to be quite possibly the most hilarious viral video of all time.

The lesson you can draw from this mishap is to be highly aware of your surroundings. Look at the background that the interviewers will see. Is there anything distracting, embarrassing or inappropriate that’s visible? Now think about the acoustics in the room. Does your voice echo? Can you hear sounds from other rooms? Mute any phones, alarms or electronic devices that are in the room. Finally, take a cue from Dr. Kelly: if you have little ones or pets, lock the door. This will avoid any interruptions during your interview.

5. Forgetting that the video interview is an interview

The great thing about video interviews is the convenience. You can interview at any time with anyone, anywhere in the world from the comfort of your own home. The downside is that you are in the comfort of your own home.

The worst case I have ever witnessed was when I set up a hiring manger with a candidate and returned to my desk. Not even 10 minutes had passed and the hiring manager was standing over my shoulder. I was horrified to learn that the hiring manager ended the interview early. The candidate in question had been at their computer and flipping back and forth between the video interview and their résumé which was open in another window. The final straw was when the candidate Googled something. Needless to say, this behaviour is unacceptable.

With in-person interviews, you are in unfamiliar surroundings, and typically the interview will be in a conference room. These surroundings tend to help candidates feel more professional and formal. You need to be as professional in the video interview as you would for an in-person interview.

Dress as you would for an in-person interview. Put on your shoes if it helps you to feel more professional. Print a copy of your résumé ahead of time. If you refer to any work samples that you do not have on hand, use your thank you note to send along the supporting documentation. Sit up straight in your chair and don’t lean on the desk. If it helps, you can even switch your normal chair for a discreet dining room chair. This small shift will push you slightly outside your comfort zone and help you to feel more formal. If you go with this option, make sure to run your video test with the chair you will use for the interview.

Final thoughts

I hope that this information can be helpful for the next time you have a FaceTime or Skype interview. By going through these steps and being well prepared, you can focus on your answers, on your connection with the hiring manager and on having a great interview.