If you’re going for a job abroad the chances are you’ll do an online interview at some stage of the proceedings. Even if the job you want isn’t abroad you may find that a phone call or video chat is part of the short listing process. So being familiar with how to make video interviews work, just in case, is well worth your time. These ideas might help…
Before the interview…
- Make sure you have the relevant software or app installed on your device. Skype is probably the most well-known video chat tool but there are alternatives. If you can’t do this at home, seek out an alternative space in good time. Some libraries and universities offer rooms for this. Friends and family can be a good resource too! The Dummies' guide to downloading and installing Skype is here.
- Check your username – is it as professional as possible? Change it if necessary. Use your name rather than a nickname or other pseudonym.
- Make sure Camera is facing you, if using a mobile it may be good to have phone holder
- Practice in advance. Make sure the screen is at the correct height so that the camera is well aligned and you can give eye contact.
- Plan your outfit and try it out to see how it looks on the screen (you could Skype a trusted friend to check how it looks). Dress from top to toe, not just waist up, and be aware of your use of colour and accessories (if applicable). Busy patterns don’t tend to work well on the screen so opt for block colour. Shades of blue or green can be ideal. Make sure you’re well-groomed.
- Prepare your surroundings. You want a space that is as clear and clutter free as possible. Make sure the area is lit well.
- Have your CV and application to hand in case you need to refer to them during the interview.
- Establish in advance whether the interview will be recorded, and consider whether you want to request permission to record it if possible (try it out in advance).
- Research the school as much as possible and be ready to answer key questions about your training and experience that are relevant to the role.
- Check time differences before your conversation as it could be 6am and not 6pm!
During the interview…
- Send your interviewer a message when you are online letting them know you are ready
- Make sure you’re identified as online on Skype so that you are accessible
- Have a glass of water nearby. If you’re nervous you may feel thirsty and that can affect the clarity of your voice.
Use a headset if it makes the process easier.
- Aim to act as you would if it was a face to face interview. Give eye contact, smile, nod and give other signals that you are listening and interested. It’s important to build and maintain rapport with your interviewer.
- Check your Phone is turned off so that there are no distractions and type on the keyboard as nothing is more off putting!
- Stay focused. This is much easier if all potential distractions are switched off. Don’t be tempted to touch the keyboard; your interviewer doesn’t want to hear typing in the background.
- Keep calm if there are technical difficulties. If necessary request that the interview is paused so that you can get a better connection.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions: “I noticed that…”, “Would you tell me more about…”, “I read that…” – these all show that you are keen to know more.
- Make sure you know what will happen next by the end of the interview. You probably won’t be told the outcome immediately, but you should be told the process from that point on. Aim to clear up any uncertainty before the interview ends.
- Once the interview is over and you have both said goodbye, be absolutely sure that the connection between you and your interviewer has ended before saying anything!
- After your interview has finished remember to send a follow up email to thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the opportunity
- Lastly, have fun!
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for eTeach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.