5 Mistakes You’re Making on Video Interviews — And How to Fix Them

Now that more than half of hiring managers are using video to interview potential job candidates — according to a 2012 Office Team survey — there’s a good chance you’ll end up being interviewed virtually for your next job. Most of the same rules of etiquette for traditional interviews apply, but many applicants still make these errors.

1. Not taking it as seriously as a traditional interview. Showing up late, chewing gum and not dressing appropriately are a few of the mistakes candidates make on video interviews. Because they’re chatting with a hiring manager via a screen, it just doesn’t seem as serious. In reality, it’s even more necessary to be on your best behavior. After all, you don’t have the benefit of that face-to-face, in-person contact that can really help you build rapport with an interviewer. It’s more necessary to wow the interviewer virtually.

2. Forgetting to check your background. If you’re applying for a role and you’ve got your Firehouse Hotties calendar in the background, it takes you down a notch in the hiring manager’s mind with regards to your level of professionalism. Plants or bright pictures can be a distraction, so see what’s behind you and clear the space beforehand.

3. Not checking your technology beforehand. Don’t assume your technology is flawless. Wasting an interviewer’s time while you install the video chat software doesn’t make your case for being overly organized. If you’re provided a link or site for the interview, be sure to run a test beforehand. Make sure you’ve got your headset ready, speakers on and websites that might make noise closed down.

4. Using an unprofessional handle. If you’ve got a Skype account under PartyGal04, consider how that will reflect with a potential employer. For Skype — or even your email address — create a second, more professional account using just your name.

5. Not dressing for the camera. Clothing and colors render differently on screen, so be aware that your favorite striped or checked shirt might give your interviewer a headache. Opt for bold and solid colors and open a window or put a lamp off to the side to cast a nice glow on your face.

For women, choose minimum jewelry (nothing distracting) and slightly more blush or lipstick than you’d wear in person, to keep your face from looking washed out. Again, run a test beforehand and also check how you look on-screen.

Tips for a Successful Video Interview

Your first video interview might make you nervous, but they’ll get easier after you’ve done a few. Not having to drive to an interview or sit nervously in the waiting room as other candidates come out should be appealing. To maximize your chance of snagging that job, try these tips:

— Make eye contact with the computer. It’s tempting to stare at the person you’re interviewing with on your computer screen or tablet, but you’ll score more points if you look at the camera, as it will seem like you’re looking directly at the hiring manager on her end.

— Remove noise distractions. If you’ve got pets, kids or an overenthusiastic gardener, plan ahead. Get a baby sitter, reschedule the gardener or put Fido outside. You don’t want any noise detracting from the impression you’re making. Also: Never conduct your video interview from a public place, such as a coffee shop. There’s simply too much noise.

— Prepare your answers ahead of time. Just like with a traditional interview, you can guess at some of the questions. Plan your answers out so you’re not stammering while you come up with a response.

— Make sure your chair is at the right height. You don’t want your face cut off at the neck if your chair is too high. A pretest should take care of this.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.