If you are unable to meet face to face, video interviews are the next best thing. But the convenience of performing an interview over a webcam can be a breeding ground for complacency.
It’s important to remember that, just because you’re in the comfort of your own home, you need to approach the interview with the same professionalism you would if you were going into the recruiter’s offices.
Business Insider spoke to two HR and hiring professionals to come up with a list of 12 of the worst mistakes you can make in a video interview. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Not dressing appropriately
One of the first decisions you have to make when attending an interview is what you’re going to wear. This is also important for a video interview. If you think you’re safe to wear something professional on top and leave your pyjama bottoms on, you’re wrong.
Stephanie Murtagh, a product marketing manager at HR company MHR told Business Insider this plan worked fine for one of her friends, until the hiring manager asked her to stand up to present. Then it was revealed she was wearing bunny-print PJs, which was pretty embarrassing, and probably cost her the job.
2. Messy surroundings
Your home life is likely to be more unpredictable than an office. For this reason, you should make sure that any housemates, parents, children or pets are safely out of the way. You should also check behind you in case there’s an embarrassing poster or immature selection of books on display.
“There is nothing worse than being interrupted mid-interview as this can affect the ebb and flow of the conversation,” John Salt, group sales director at totaljobs.com told Business Insider.
“Also, avoid messy backgrounds as this will not necessarily provide the best first impression to employers. Make sure you are in a tidy space if you are at home.”
3. Taking it to the coffee shop
You might think the coffee shop down the road would be a good place for an interview, but that’s probably not true. They’re relaxing if you’re there to read a book, but not so much if someone next to you is talking loudly about the challenges they overcame in their previous role.
“Libraries often offer little booths for just such an occasion; headphones could also play a vital role if you are on location,” said Murtagh.
4. Being an unintentional luddite
We can all have our moments grappling with technology, especially if you’ve never used the video programme before. However, in a job interview this is the one time you have to pretend you’re an expert on all things techy, according to Murtagh.
“Have enough battery, check your mic is working, check your camera is working,” she said. “Imagine trying to have an interview with someone who doesn’t realise their microphone is off or that they have muted their machines.”
Not a good look.
5. Not checking your username
With technology in mind, you should probably also check what your username is on whatever video tool you’re using. If you created the account while you were at school, you might have a username with a lot of x’s or something else embarrassing like “badman83.” It’s best to double-check your profile photo too.
6. Keeping other windows open
It’s easy to get distracted by other things going on, such as your social media or some work you were getting on with before the interview. However, avoid this happening by making sure everything is closed down while you’re on the video call.
“Also, although it will be difficult, try to avoid looking at the mini version of you on the screen,” Murtagh added. “The person on the other end can tell.”
7. That goes for your phone too
Research has shown the typical cellphone user touches his or her phone 2,617 time every day. Murtagh recommends switching it off, and even putting it in another room.
8. Not checking ‘mute’ actually works
“I once had a colleague who was in a group interview, and tried to discreetly press mute in order to tell his friend to order him a meat feast pizza with extra pepperoni, extra peppers but hold the onions,” Murtagh said.
“A little ‘ahem’ from the interviewer politely let him know that he hadn’t actually muted his mic, he apologised but could not fully get over the embarrassment.”
9. Forgetting what job you’re interviewing for
It’s a lot less likely you’ll forget which company you’re interviewing at if you actually go to the office. However, if you’re job hunting, you might have scheduled multiple video interview on the same day. If this is the case, check, double-check and then check again who it is you’re going to talk to, where they are from and what role you’re applying for.
If this is the case, check, double-check and then check again who it is you’re going to talk to, where they are from and what role you’re applying for.
10. Failing to prepare
Salt says it is not advisable to set your alarm ten minutes before the interview and rush straight over to your computer.
“Technical glitches happen to all of us so it is best to check your webcam and microphone so that you know your technology is working properly ahead of time,” he said.
So give yourself plenty of time to breathe beforehand and take a final look over your notes. You even have the advantage of setting up your desk so you can refer back to your notes discreetly, which you can’t do face to face.
11. Talking too fast
Research from totaljobs.com found that 26% of jobseekers say they talk too quickly in interviews. Salt says on webcam, we can talk even more rapidly and words can easily be lost — so slow it down.
12. Forgetting there’s a human at the other end
We can get so stressed out about making a good impression, we often forget we are being interviewed by a real person. If a video interview just won’t work for you — if you have young children or just can’t do the interview at home — let them know ahead of time. Any company worth working for won’t have a problem with rescheduling the interview.