3 Ways to Put your Best Foot Forward on a Video Job Interview

Apr 13, 2020

With so many people working at a distance from coworkers, conversations and meetings via video on Zoom or Skype are getting so familiar that a certain casualness has crept in. 


Featured in Fortune written by Anne Fisher– April 10, 2020 — About 90% of us, for example, have had a family member or a pet wander in during a work-related video chat, according to a survey by HR software firm O.C. Tanner. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since it seems that a glimpse of each other’s personal lives can help people stay connected and productive in these harrowing times.

One big exception: Video job interviews, where professionalism and attention to detail are table stakes. “People are getting very sloppy,” observes Paul Bailo, PhD, a digital strategy expert who teaches management and innovation at Columbia University and wrote a new book called The Essential Digital Interview Handbook.

His data shows that “about 85% of a successful video interview comes down to how you look, and how you set up your surroundings,” he says. “These days, lots of people just aren’t bothering to put their best foot forward.” In his research, Bailo encountered one interviewee who wore a boa constrictor around his neck. Another sat with “an open closet with a big mess of clothes and shoes spilling out of it in the background,” Bailo recalls.

Admittedly, those are extreme examples. Even so, recruiters report that, with everyone now so much more relaxed on camera than before, most video interviewers are seeing a sharp increase in missteps. Before the coronavirus crisis, “about one in five video interviews we conducted had some element that was annoying or distracting,” says Marc Gasperino, managing director of the digital practice at headhunters ON Partners. “Now it’s much, much worse.”


Since “any little thing that’s irritating could cost you the job,” he adds, “it’s essential to take the time to shift gears from working from home to interviewing from home.”

Contributions to the Fortune article from Marc Gasperino, partner at ON Partners:

A further thought from Marc Gasperino: In a video interview, even more than in person, keep your answers brief and to the point, unless your interlocutor specifically requests more detail. “It’s harder to build a personal connection onscreen than face-to-face,” he says. “So you can easily miss those subtle nonverbal cues that someone is bored or wants to move on to the next question.


“The Number One reason people don’t get hired,” he adds, “is that they bombard the interviewer with too much information that no one asked for.” A much better approach: “Give a general overview of your career so far, and of particular accomplishments, but pause often to ask whether or not the interviewer would like more detail.” If not, stop talking.


Gasperino’s rule of thumb for how to tell whether you’re rambling: “If you think that you might be speaking too much, you are.” Got it.

To read the full article, visit Fortune here.

Want more tips and tools for video interviewing?  See our video interviewing guide here.




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