What Not to Do On a Digital Interview

Lindsay Olson

Thanks to technology, you no longer have to meet face-to-face with a potential employer. Nowadays digital interviews can get you in front of key decision-makers without having to take time for initial meetings during your regular work hours. Some companies are even hiring employees exclusively from their online interview.

And with companies like HireVue, which assists companies in interviewing more candidates through its on-demand interviewing system, you're able to respond to interview questions for a specific position at your convenience from a computer, tablet, or a smartphone. Then the hiring team is able to review, rate, and share interviews from anywhere, at anytime.

While interviews online via HireVue, Skype, Google Hangouts, and other platforms are growing in popularity, you should never assume you can put less effort into being interviewed over the Internet than you do for in-person interviews. Employers may focus on you even more than they normally would, as it may be a little harder to read body language virtually. Don't make these mistakes in your next digital interview.

1. Don't ignore your background. While conducting an interview from your bedroom, keep in mind what shows up in the background. Employers will form an impression about you before you've even opened your mouth.

Kevin Marasco, HireVue's chief marketing officer, says you want to keep your interviewers' focus on you: "You want to make sure their attention is solely on you and your responses to their questions, not something that is going on behind you."

2. Don't dress casually. Just because you're sitting at home for your interview doesn't give you the excuse to dress down. You're still trying to impress a potential employer, so go the whole nine yards, just like you would if you were driving to the interview. Here's one caveat: if only the top half of you is visible on camera, shoes can be optional.

3. Don't forget to test your connection. Whether you conduct your video interview over a computer, tablet, or smartphone, it's important to make sure your connection isn't spotty. Marasco suggests checking your mobile coverage before your call so you don't look unprofessional when or if your call gets dropped, or if your video comes in choppy.

4. Don't watch yourself on screen. It's extremely tempting to simply watch yourself talk during the interview, but your contact will feel less engaged with your eyes looking away from where she's looking. Look directly at the camera to best mimic maintaining eye contact.

5. Don't interview and drive. In addition to being illegal in most states, driving while holding your phone isn't safe, so leave the interview for a moment when you can concentrate. Marasco says, "If you are going to try and complete an on-demand digital interview in your car, make sure you are parked in a quiet area, have good reception and good lighting."

6. Don't interview from the coffee shop. Or anywhere else loud or distracting. What's going on behind you will distract the person interviewing you, plus having a hubbub of noise surrounding you may make it difficult to hear. It can be off-putting for someone who is trying to determine how serious you are about this position.

7. Don't let the one-sided interview throw you off. If you're interviewing through HireVue or a similar service to record answers to interview questions, it may be strange talking to yourself. Focus on engaging the people who will watch your interview. Maintain "eye contact" with the camera. On HireVue's digital interview platform, you have a finite amount of time to answer each question. Marasco suggests: "If you're new to the camera, use the practice question built into HireVue and you can practice on your own device."

8. Don't use vocalized pauses. Many of us get nervous when being interviewed, so it's natural that a few "uhs" and "you knows" will fall in our speech. But with a little practice ahead of time, and some preparation for how you will answer certain questions, you can eliminate many of them, which will make you come off more confident and better prepared.

9. Don't interview in the dark. Sometimes you may think there's plenty of light in the room for your webcam, but the viewer may not be able to see your face properly. Marasco suggests a check run of the lighting: "Run a couple test shots to ensure there are no dark spots on your face."

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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