OK – so you’ve spent 50K plus (actually – you spent 10K and borrowed 40K) to get a BA. You wrote a great resume and a heartfelt cover letter, you scrubbed those embarrassing photos from your social media feed and you set up a LinkedIn profile – adult style. firstname.lastname@example.org is no longer the e-mail address you use when applying for jobs -and you’ve been diligently applying for teaching gigs overseas. You’ve had a couple of interviews with schools and recruiters but nothing has worked out. It may be that the last step in the process – the video interview – is where you are failing. As a recruiter, it is a shame to see well qualified candidates sell themselves short and not get their dream job due to easily preventable mistakes in a Skype video interview – one of the last stages in the process towards teaching abroad. Here are a few simple, actionable steps you can take to improve your video interview technique.
1. Make Sure Your Hardware and Software Are Working Correctly
The best candidate in the world won’t get a job if the person conducting the interview can’t see or hear them. Make sure you know your Skype ID, your password, and test both your audio and video settings prior to the interview. Skype has an echo call back feature so you can test your audio settings. Do a test video call with your friend prior to the call to make sure your video is working. Don’t leave this until 10 minutes before your interview. Do a test audio/video call from the location where you will actually be doing the interview – especially if you are on WiFi – as the quality of your internet connection will affect audio and video quality.
2. Be On Time, And Be In The Right Time Zone
Remote interviews often entail coordinating times for people on opposite sides of the globe. Confirm the date/time before the interview – and be aware that if you are in North America and the school is in Asia – the interviewer might be a day ahead of you. I use this handy website for calculating time differences: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter-classic.html. Confirm when the interview will happen in both time zones via e-mail at least 24 hours ahead of time. Also establish who is going to initiate the call. Be online and prepared at least 10 minutes prior to your interview.
3. Dress As Though You Are Doing An In-Person Interview
If you were interviewing for a job with your local school board, you wouldn’t roll out of bed, throw on a t-shirt and head to the interview – unshaven or with bedhead. In video interviews your appearance is even more important than in an in-person interview. The person conducting the interview only has to base a decision based on what they see and hear on camera – they don’t have the luxury of the cues personal interactions have – so look and act professional.
4. Use Proper Lighting – Use A Light Source Behind Your Computer Or Phone
No one wants to hire a shadow. Be aware of what you look like to the interviewer. Below are a couple of screenshots I took – one with a light source behind my computer – one with a light source behind my head – notice the difference.
5. Wear a Solid Coloured or White Shirt
Stripes and patterns are distracting on camera. Notice the difference between the enclosed photos with a white shirt and a checkered shirt.
6. Conduct Your Interview In a Quiet Environment With a Solid Coloured Background
Places that are inappropriate to conduct a video interview (places where teaching candidates have conducted and subsequently failed interviews include:
Bus terminal/train station
While it should be obvious that you need to do an interview in a quiet location – make sure there is nothing distracting or strange in the background. A real world example – I introduced a teacher this year to a school in Dubai. He nearly didn’t get the job because there was a large flag for a foreign country that was hanging on his wall and was visible during the Skype interview. While this was simply a decoration – they school HR administrator had questions as to why this this country’s flag was visible during the interview and whether the candidate was trying to send a message. Cluttered backgrounds are also distracting as well – compare the enclosed photos below. Tell me which one looks better to you?
7. Make Sure Your Camera Is At Eye Level
Typically people are looking down on their computers – this provides a great angle for your laptop camera to focus on your nasal hair. Use books or other props to elevate your computer/Ipad/Phone so the camera is at eye level. This will create a better angle view you. If conducting an interview using your phone – don’t hold it in your hand the whole time like you are snapping a selfie. Put your phone in a level, stable location at eye level – otherwise the person conducting the interview will be talking to your armpit for 20 minutes.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST IMPORTANT TIP:
8. Smile, and act happy and confident!
Happy Interviewing, everybody!