If you haven’t been out on the job market in a while, you might not be aware of the increasing trend of conducting first interviews via Skype or other video platform. Video interviews save both time and money, and are particularly useful for interviews of out-of-state candidates. However, while you may not be meeting in person, this does not mean you should treat them any less formally.
Set the scene
Ideally, you want to set up with a neutral-colored background like a wall behind you with few distractions (i.e., not in front of bookshelves full of knick knacks). Further, there should be nothing random left lying around, such as a stray wine glass or half-eaten sandwich. We also recommend corralling any pets. As much as we all love our furry friends, you don’t want Fluffy jumping on your desk to walk in front of the screen or Fido barking in the background.
Ditch the wireless connection
If at all possible, hardwire into your internet connection instead of connecting over wireless (and turn off your wireless router). This will improve the quality of your video and audio and hopefully prevent any blips or freezing coming from your end.
For those of you with a cable modem, you can generally plug right into the modem. To further improve the stability of your connection, close all programs on your computer other than the program you’re using for the video interview.
Dress exactly the same as you would for an in-person interview
Whether you’re sitting across a conference room table from your interviewer or in front of a web cam, your attire should be the same. For the vast majority of attorney positions, you’ll want to be in a suit.
The same attention should be paid to your hair, makeup and other grooming as if you were going into the office for an interview. For women, we suggest making sure that your makeup is neither too heavy nor too light, and perhaps checking your appearance on your phone or computer screen prior to the interview.
Look at the camera (not at yourself)
Depending on which program you’re using for the video interview, you may be able to see your own video feed on the screen. For example, Skype places your video feed in the bottom right corner. This can be extremely distracting and can cause you to look at yourself instead of looking directly into the camera.
Just as you would want to look an interviewer in the eye in person, you want to look directly at them during the video interview. If your video feed distracts you, adjust your settings to remove it (not possible with all software) or use a sticky note to cover it.
Don’t forget body language
Don’t sit so still during the interview that person on the other end wonders if the screen has frozen. Body language and connecting with the interviewer on a personal level still matter. Smile, be expressive and show a little personality. Make them want to meet you in person.
Do a trial run
Enlist a friend to do a trial run with you. This ensures your software is up-to-date – there’s nothing worse than getting ready to connect for the interview only to receive an alert that you need an upgrade – and your friend can let you know if you and your background look good in action.