One of my senior recruiters was shocked recently during a debriefing call with one of our clients. We had set up three Skype interviews for a sales position in Chicago. The National Sales Manager indicated that she was “on the fence” on one of the candidates, not because of qualifications, but because of what she saw during the interview. She said she had a hard time focusing on the candidate because there was a beer can on the desk where he chose to interview. If that wasn’t bad enough, there was a pile of dirty laundry on a table in the corner behind him.
As she continued the discussion with my recruiter, she essentially moved herself from “on the fence” to eliminating the candidate from consideration. Saying the words out loud convinced her that a candidate who prepared so poorly for an interview, did not have the preparation skills for a professional sales presentation.
When the candidate was given the news by our recruiter, he was taken aback. He blamed the untidy environment on his roommate. Of course, this transference of blame, did nothing to win the job.
With online interviewing becoming more common, it behooves the serious job applicant to prepare for this type of interview with the same level of attentiveness as one would with a face-to-face interview.
Here are a few tips on how to prepare for an online interview:
- Remember that you are responsible for creating/controlling the impression you want to create. This not only includes how you dress, but also the environment in which you take the interview. As to dress, ask your recruiter if formal attire is appropriate or if the interviewer prefers dressy casual. As to the location, a study or office makes more sense than a bedroom or kitchen, particularly if they are unkempt.
- Make sure that your focus is on the interview and do what you can to minimize distractions. Turn off your cell phone, put the dog in another room, have someone care for small children that might disturb your interview. Any interruptions will send the message to the employer that this interview was not important to you.
- Practice using Skype to make good “eye contact”. Learn to look into the camera, not into the eyes of the interviewer on the screen. Doing so will project your eyes downward to the interviewer .
- Smile! Try to remember you are talking to a person, not a monitor! It’s important that your personality finds its digital way to your interviewer.
The bottom line is that online interviewing will continue to play an important role in hiring for professional positions. Treat this interview step with the same level of preparedness as you would a face-to-face meeting.
By David A. Molnar
President, National Register USA