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Be Prepared - Sharing the right way to be seen in a digital interview By Taj McNamara

These days, making a good impression is important- even if you aren’t face-to-face. The rise of digital interviewing has been building in recent years. To save on interviewing costs and to streamline the job interview process, companies are turning to their computers instead of phones and offices to conduct interviews.

A video call is an effective way to show your personality and let the interviewer get to know you even better than they would over the phone. It can also be a good bridge between the phone and office interviews, especially when you’re applying for a job in another state.

Just how do you make a great impression from a distance? Make no mistake, remote interviews are harder to prepare for than regular ones.

Download the software at least a few days in advance of the interview. While there are Skype platforms that cost money, it is generally free to video chat with other Skype users.

Create a professional username. With Skype, people can search for you by your first and last name. Make sure you don’t use any unprofessional nicknames in your Skype name.

Do a test call or two with your friends or family. Make sure you can easily make and answer a call. Check to see that your microphone and camera work. Practice getting comfortable looking at the camera for long periods of time.

Adjust the lighting. Be sure you have enough lighting to avoid any heavy shadows. However, make sure the lighting is not too bright either, because that can wash you out or even blind the interviewer. You can figure out lighting issues during your practice interview.

A few thoughts as gauging the company culture—from afar—becomes a key skill when trying to nail a remote interview. Since you’re not there physically (experts estimate that 90% of the cues we give off are non-verbal), looking the part becomes even more important.

First, do your research: Check out the company’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed to get a feel for how employees (and executives) dress and behave, then take your cues from that when prepping for your interview.

Whether your call is video or telephone, do it in a quiet, businesslike setting, ideally in a room with a door.

“Check your six”, or look behind where you are seated as a cluttered background may distract your audience, not to mention send the wrong idea of your organizational skills. Rid the visible area of personal items—no need to share too much information. A blank or neutral background is best, with a well-organized desktop. 

Your first few video calls are bound to feel awkward as you figure out your focal point to keep your eye contact open, what to do with your hands, or how loudly to speak. But it’s easy to work out those kinks ahead of time. Practice with a friend, or just put your camera active, and speak for a while on a topic you feel comfortable with and get used to the format.

We’ve all received tips and opinions over the years on how to give the perfect, professional handshake. It can be difficult to do that when you’re not in the same physical location, however. 

 

Do not reach your hand forward awkwardly close to the camera in a pseudo handshake attempt. Instead, smile, give a nod, and lean in slightly. This gives the impression that you’re both professional and personable. Remember, body language is everything, even in virtual environments.

Have you ever heard of active listening? Especially with a digital or phone interview, it’s important to give the other caller periodic clues that you’re still there. Long silences become awkward and bring about questions if you are paying attention.

Occasional appropriate responses, a “Yes, I agree.” or “That is a good point.” will indicate engagement. In addition to making your conversation more pleasant, it also reassures the other party that the technology is functioning correctly and you are, indeed, still listening.

Eye contact is critical, so be sure to look directly into the camera at all times. Do not make the rookie move of looking at yourself in the bottom corner of the screen. Be engaging and lean forward slightly when you’re speaking. You don’t want it to look like the screen has frozen because you haven’t made any movement to show that you are, in fact, human.

When you’re relying on video or phone equipment, there’s a good chance you’ll experience a technical glitch: a weak connection, interference or garbled signals.

You may hesitate to draw attention to the problem, but you don’t want to give an inaccurate answer because you didn’t understand the question. A simple “excuse me, can you please repeat that?” works fine. But if the problem persists, bring it up.

If the connection is particularly troublesome- do speak up. Reconnect the call if needed, send an email indicating the issue at hand, or type in the instant message feature, if available. Prospective and future employers may take away that you’re a problem-solver, and you would provide top-quality service if employed by them. Not to mention that fixing this kind of issue is a show of professionalism.

 

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