Have you ever been asked to perform in front of a camera? How about a web cam? And how about when you are looking for a new job as a web cam interview?
I got a question from an old friend I worked with back in the late 80’s that prompted those above . . .
Searched the site but could not find any guideline / direction on Web
Cam interviews ( Mine upcoming is with the HR Manager)…If it is a
topic you have discussed in the past…can you advise where it might
be posted…if not…possible a discussion point down the road.
I haven’t written about this in the past, but I think web cam interviews are going to become a lot more common. Especially as the technology gets better and hiring companies get more comfortable using it. In fact, now you can upgrade to a new iPhone 4 and do a video conference with another iPhone 4 user. Very cool.
So what should you do to survive and succeed in a web cam interview?
Get comfortable with the technology
If you don’t own a web camera, go buy one. At least a week before your interview. And then do web cam interview calls with everyone you know. Buy two and send one to your parents. Your comfort level will contribute to your confidence level. On interview day, don’t be surprised if an issue or two comes up (can’t hear, can’t see, a few second delay). These can happen and usually get worked out in the first few minutes. A lot of companies will offer you a test call to make sure it all works.
Set up a mock interview
It is one thing to talk to your Mom about the kid’s weekend soccer games. It’s another to talk to an HR person you don’t know who lives on the opposite coast about your biggest challenge. So set up a mock interview with a friend or former boss so that you can get used to giving your pitch while staring at your web cam.
Clear the room
Simply said, make sure you know what the camera sees. Ask the person doing your mock interview to tell you what they see. Set up your computer in a clean, well lit room without your beer bottle or antique doll collection on the back wall. Bookshelves and fireplaces tend to be pretty good. Can be your home office if you have one. Also, make sure your roommate, spouse and/or 6 kids are cleared out (30 minutes before and after your scheduled call). A fight over the new PlayStation won’t sound good in the background.
Determine a proper distance
To avoid the fishbowl effect during the interview, make sure you ask your friends/mock interviewer how you look. For me, I’d like to see you from the waist up. A little tighter is OK, but much more and you are “all face”. Some programs will allow you to see how you look from the start allowing you to adjust on the fly.
Know the strength of your voice
So, I’ll just say it. You don’t need to yell. With most programs, your computer’s speakers will work just fine. If you are one of those loud talkers on a normal conference call, don’t be that person during your web cam interview. Start in your normal voice and ask nicely, “how do I sound?” and you can adjust from there.
Be professional, not stiff
Part of your task in a preliminary interview is to provide detail on your qualifications for the job. But you also have an opportunity to establish a rapport with the interviewer. Some who interview are all business, but there are many styles of interviewers. So your ability to judge their style early on the web cam will help you to succeed as the interview progresses.
Dress to impress, not to kill
You will each make your own decision on this one. It may depend on your own beliefs. Or the industry or culture you’re in. But I’m going to suggest that you interview business casual via web cam. Still professional but comfortable enough that you don’t look over-dressed in your own house. I’ll be curious to get your reaction this suggestion. Feels right to me. And it is what I’ve done in the past.
Prepare like it’s interview day
Make sure you treat this web cam interview like you would an in-person interview. You can use my Smart Interview Preparation (SIP) Tool if you like. It walks you through a structured process to help get to know the industry, company and people. The more you know the better, right?
You hear me say this a lot. To me, it is one of the key networking habits you need to have and something that people like to see during interviews. It says you are confident and comfortable. And excited to be talking to this company. Too much and you are going to look silly so don’t over-do it. Part of the “don’t be stiff” advice above.
A web cam interview is often the first in what will be a string of interview opportunities with a company. If you don’t succeed, you haven’t invested a lot. Nor have they. And you may find that this first interview unlocks the key to your next role. Or it may uncover a dud. Try to enjoy the process of learning about a new company and of sharing your accomplishments with others.
How about you? What’s your advice to fellow job seekers looking to succeed via web cam?
What did I miss?
Photo Credit: the guy pictured and re-pictured above (not me!)
Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Job Interview Tips