What tips would you offer regarding online video (e.g., Skype) interviews?

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Q:  What tips would you offer regarding online video (e.g., Skype) interviews?

A: (from J. Larry Tyler, FACHE, FHFMA, FAAHC, CMPE, Chairman and CEO) While the purpose and effectiveness of interviewing has remained steadfast through the years, technology has evolved its delivery platform. An online first interview has become much more popular as an alternative to the traditional in-person meeting. While both are face-to-face, online interviews can be held at an office, home or local meeting space, which substantially reduces travel time (sometimes by days!) and cost. These days, about 20 percent of our clients opt to conduct first interviews via the Internet.

Although you may be more nervous if unfamiliar with online video interviewing, planning and preparation will help tremendously.

Here are 15 tips to help you for your next online video interview:

  1. Prepare well. Regardless of platform, treat a video interview the same as you would an in-person meeting. Study the organization, research interviewers’ backgrounds, write down questions and submit any materials (e.g., your resume/CV, references) ahead of your interview.
  2. Plan. Anticipate an online interview. If you lack a laptop, tablet or mobile device equipped with a camera, buy a compatible one. Most “plug and play” using a USB connection.
  3. Familiarize yourself with popular online interview applications, such as Skype or Zoom, by downloading the appropriate software. Although you may be given a link to an employer-preferred platform, most video applications offer similar features. I prefer Skype since a basic account is free, and I can “videocall” family in other states and around the world. Some applications even are available for your mobile device, and these can be found on Google Play.
  4. Don’t get cutesy. Establish a user/call name that is professional vs. adorable.
  5. When it comes to bandwidth, grab the biggest pipe. The last thing you need is a slow connection or a pixelated image. Ensure you have the maximum bandwidth you need to allow for excellent streaming.
  6. Properly position your camera. Use the picture-in-picture feature to see yourself as others would. Place the camera so it’s directly in front of your eyes. Look into the lens when responding, not the person(s) on your screen. In this fashion, you maintain eye contact. Practice, as it may seem awkward at first.
  7. Check your lighting. If gone unchecked, it could appear as if you are wearing a halo and have a shadow cast over your face. You may need to reposition lamps so as to “cast yourself in a new light.”
  8. Tidy your workspace. Don’t forget the camera may have peripheral vision. Ensure your desk is tidy and the room you’re using is professional and organized. If videoconferencing at home, keep in mind personal space is a reflection of you.
  9. Dress appropriately. The same rules that apply to in-person interviews apply here. I recommend darker-colored business suits, complementing shirts/blouses, ties for men, combed hair and minimal jewelry.
  10. Lock up kids and pets. Not literally, of course; just be sure they are not a distraction to either party.
  11. Playback occurs. Please be aware that your session may be recorded and/or your photo taken during the interview.
  12. Complete test calls with family and friends ensuring you see and hear the other party and vice versa. Learn common troubleshooting techniques. Obtain your interviewers’ call names and add them to your application’s contacts directory, if applicable. For example, you must have contacts populated in your Skype directory before making a call.
  13. Grab the necessities. Have nearby a glass of water, your resume or CV and a list of the interviewers, so you may recognize and call them by name. Video interviews allow you to use notes more than you might during an in-person session. Tape notes at eye level. That way when you need a prompt, you don’t have to look down.
  14. Ask to see all parties if engaged in a group interview. In this manner, you may get a better sense of body language and engage each of your interviewers.
  15. Keep your cool. Chances are everything will go fine, however, Murphy’s Law does happen. If unable to resolve technical issues, remain calm. Propose alternatives such as continuing the conversation by phone or agreeing to videocall at another time.

Online video interviews offer another depth of perception for both parties. It hints at several “soft skills,” including the ability to embrace certain types of technology and newer modes of communication, comfort level in showcasing personal space (if applicable), and ability to keep a level head if there’s a technical malfunction. Do your best to prepare, and show your best side. As long as you don’t use an avatar, everything should fall nicely into place.

J. Larry Tyler, FACHE, FHFMA, FAAHC, CMPE, Chairman and CEO, leads the firm’s CEO and Health Systems Leadership Practice. Founder of Tyler & Company, he has 36 years of healthcare executive recruitment experience. Reach Tyler at 770-396-3939 or ltyler@tylerandco.com.

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