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10 tips to prepare for an IT job video interview

Rich Hein | Sept. 25, 2013
Learn what it takes to set up and be ready for your video interview, so you can focus on what's important -- getting the job.

Do a Practice Shoot
Rehearsing for your video performance, according to Burns, is an essential part of pulling off a great interview. Do video tests and then examine your footage. You'll likely find something you need to adjust. It could be your tapping foot, a stand-offish look on your face or something like lighting placement or your Metallica poster on the wall.

What Should You Wear
Experts agree that you should treat this like a regular interview and wear what you would have worn to their office. Dress completely, Young has seen hiring managers ask a candidate to step back from the camera bit and if you're wearing a dickey, you may feel and look foolish.

Use a Quality Camera
Many of today's laptop, tablets and smartphones come with a webcam installed and that may be fine, but make sure during the testing process. You may find that the quality isn't up to snuff.

"I used to use the webcam built into my laptop. Frequently these cameras shape you and your surroundings like a fishbowl [lens] and that does not look good at all. I bought a $40 webcam and positioned it a few feet from the computer. Now the images look perfectly normal," says Burns.

Common Video Interview Mistakes
Not Looking at the Camera
On prerecorded interviews, you get so used to looking at the computer screen, your notes or the keyboard that you're not focusing on the camera. Eye contact is an important aspect of engagement.

"It's distracting when an employer is watching an interview and the candidate is constantly looking down. Remain focused and look at the webcam on your machine," says Young. If you find it hard to focus on a little black dot on the frame of your laptop, "try adding a sticky note that says 'look up.' That can be very helpful," says Young.

Turn Off Your Mobile Devices
Turn off your smartphone or, better yet, remove it from the scene altogether. A common mistake, Young says, is that mobile devices, even in vibrate mode, can be heard clearly during the video interview. Burns agrees and says that he regularly explains to clients that using your mobile device or even having it too close is simply an unnecessary distraction that can cost you in the interview. Just turn it off and remove it from the equation.

Stay Relaxed and Poised
The video interview provides a channel for "nonverbal" communication that is not available via phone interview or a document such as a resume, bio or cover letter, according to Burns. How important is this nonverbal angle?

"Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted numerous studies on nonverbal communication and concluded the following: Seven percent of any message is conveyed via words; 38 percent via tone of voice; and 55 percent via nonverbal elements such as facial expression, hand gestures, posture and so on. Even if those numbers are approximations, they do align with common sense and everyday experience. Although the video interview is not a perfect substitute for a face-to-face meeting, it's surely the next-best substitute," says Burns.


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