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How to Prepare for a Video Interview 

Getting ready for your first interview with a company? More than likely, it won’t be with a face-to-face decision maker, but with a computer screen. A growing number of employers across the country are using both live and pre-recorded video interviews to filter candidates.

It’s a strategy that saves a company time and money, and it’s rewriting the rules on how job seekers are preparing for interviews. Two-thirds of human resource professionals report using video interview platforms as part of their hiring process, including Skype and Zoom for real-time question and answer sessions, as well as programs like Montage and RIVS for pre-recorded interviews where candidates log in and record answers to a series of questions posed to them by a virtual host.

“We absolutely have seen an increase in the use of video interviews,” says Jesse Downs, director of Career Services at Louisiana State University. “Some companies have moved entirely to virtual first round interviews either through Skype or pre-recorded video systems.”

But just because you won’t be showcasing your job readiness in a face-to-face format doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare with equal diligence, human resource experts say. These kinds of interviews require as much, if not more, preparation than a traditional interview, since the format can take some getting used to. Practicing will make you more comfortable. Candidates also need to make sure they look their best and understand how the technology works in advance of the interview. And, they need to conduct their video interviews in a setting that is both distraction-free and appropriate.

The Importance of a Good Background

“You wouldn’t believe how many people don’t think about where they’re recording their interviews,” says Gena Champagne, state director of the Louisiana Society of Human Resource Management. “Coffee shops are a bad idea, and so are bathrooms.”

A bathroom? It sounds like an extreme example, but it’s not, says Champagne. Many candidates are looking for privacy on the job site, or in an apartment they share with friends, and sometimes they make poor decisions on where to hold their interview.

“The background that your sitting in front of is so important,” Champagne continues. “You don’t want distracting noises from a place of business, and you don’t want to see other people crossing behind you in the frame. You also don’t want things like wall posters with political messages, beer bottles or other items showing in the background that would distract from your message and skills.”

Dress for Success

LSU Career Services dedicates an entire page of tips on how to conduct a good video interview in its Student Career Guide, says Downs. Such tips include wearing full business attire, not just a presentable top, since it puts a candidate in a focused frame of mind. Candidates tend to take themselves more seriously if they’re dressed for success rather than sitting around in casual loungewear.

Test Equipment

It’s also important to test equipment before your scheduled interview, says Katie Sternberg, founder of the executive and personal coaching firm Momentum in Baton Rouge.

“You need to run through the program to make sure you’re comfortable with how it works, including the audio and video,” Sternberg says. “It’s also key that you look at the camera and not at the picture of yourself on the screen.”

Finally, it’s also a good idea to ensure that your interviewers won’t pick up any unnecessary noise, like barking dogs, doorbells or children.

“Be sure you have everything covered and you think through all those important details,” says Sternberg. “Little things can very distracting to both you and the employer.”

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