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Mastering the Video Interview

By Valerie Cherneksi

Valerie Cherneski is a certified executive coach, facilitator and speaker who uses her background in law and psychology to motivate change and development. As the Founder of Cherneski Coaching, Valerie focuses her practice on highly driven lawyers and corporate professionals, and assists them on a variety of issues to streamline their lives and build further upon their success. Valerie serves clients across the United States and Canada and is a frequent contributor to the iRelaunch blog and "3, 2, 1, iRelaunch" podcast series.

If you are like so many people relaunching your career, you are just thrilled at the idea of receiving an interview! You have worked so hard to overcome the first set of hurdles and you are ready to sell yourself and learn about potential employers. But then, you find out it is a video interview. You thought you had mastered the technology side of relaunching, which has quickly become a necessary and fundamental element of the process, only to be faced with another challenge.

Video interviews have become a common way for employers to meet and vet candidates. Using video is efficient and cost effective for employers and yet causes extra stress for candidates (and not just relaunchers). Although video interviews are different from what you may be used to, there is no reason that you cannot get ahead of the game and prove to employers that you are not only ready for the role, but ready for whatever may be thrown at you along the way.

I’ve outlined my Prepare and Practice formula here, to put you at ease and maybe, just maybe, get you excited for the interview:

Prepare Your Content

Prepare for your video interview the same way you would for an in-person interview. Do as much research as possible to understand the type of questions to expect and then prepare as if you were meeting the interviewers face to face. This means that you will have your personal story ready, your work scenarios chosen to describe (“Tell me about a time when…”), and questions for the employer. Normally, there is nothing wrong with having some notes in front of you – notes can demonstrate that you are prepared, diligent and serious about the job. However, with a video interview, because the interviewers can only see part of you, be careful not to look down too often. If you decide to use notes, you may want to let them know the first time you refer to them, so that they understand what you are doing when your eyes shift away from the camera.

Prepare Your Technology

The best way to build your confidence for a video interview is to ace the technology prep in advance. Download the program the employer wants you to use and test it with several people. Make sure you can log in and turn the camera and audio on. Use the same computer or tablet you will use for the actual interview. If you know there will be more than one person interviewing you, try practicing with a few people so that you know how the screen will look (teenagers are perfect for this role!). If you are still worried, watch tutorials on YouTube to get up to speed.

An important part of the technology prep is to prepare your surroundings. Not only is it imperative that you appear professional, but you do not want to be distracted by anything around you during the interview. Check the background to make sure you know what people are seeing when your camera is on. Try for bright, indirect lighting. Make a list of everything that needs to be taken care of prior to the start of the interview – this includes turning off your landline and cell phone, putting the pets in a room where you cannot hear them, and putting a sign by the doorbell asking people not to ring.

You will sleep easy (okay, maybe just easier!) the nights leading up to the interview, knowing that you have conquered the technology.

Practice, Practice, Practice

As is the case for an in-person interview, practice is key. Ask for friends or family to do mock interviews with you by video. Ask for feedback on how you look and sound. While you are at it, record yourself and watch it. This is never easy to do, but very helpful. You will put yourself in the position of the interviewers and feel more confident during the actual interview.

Practice Authenticity

I cannot stress enough how important it is to be yourself and own your story during an interview – the same goes for video interviews. Dress how you would for any interview (research industry norms and your audience) and show up with all of your personality. If you are nervous, and you feel that it is showing, be transparent, with language such as “I may have spoken too quickly there – sometimes that happens when I am truly excited about an opportunity.” There is no point in trying to hide something they have likely noticed – own it and move on. And remember the line between authenticity and self-sabotage. You do not need to tell them it is your first time using video conferencing or that your technology skills are rusty. Instead, you stay authentic with words such as “I have used other forms of video conferencing, and it’s great that I am finally experiencing this platform.” Always steer the discussion forward so that they are convinced of your readiness, credibility and talent.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be confident, fully prepared, and ready to show up to your video interview as the same person who is going to show up on day one of work to make an immediate impact on the organization.

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