Before most people had laptops and cell phones, employers held one kind of job interview: the in-person variety. Candidates showed up to an office, then sat across a desk from a recruiter and had an in-person meeting.
Today, however, candidates and recruiters don’t need to be in the same physical space to do a job interview. Some employers hold video interviews on Skype, Zoom, or other platforms, meaning that they talk to candidates virtually. In another type of video interview, hiring managers use software like HireVue to have candidates record responses to typed-up questions — no live interview (or interviewer) required. This second kind of interview is usually called a digital interview.
Both Skype and digital interviewing can be stressful, since they don’t follow the same format as a traditional, in-person interview. However, there are some advantages to having a digital interview over a face-to-face interview. For instance, many kinds of digital interview software give you the ability to re-record your answers in case you say something awkward.
For Skype interviews, things might seem a bit dicier. Not only are you in a different room from that of your interviewer, but you have to deal with a whole new set of worries. After all, no one teaches video interview etiquette!
Fortunately, we're here to help you through the process of interviewing digitally. Here are seven things you shouldn’t say to your video interviewer. Stay away from these kinds of comments, and you’ll be golden.
7 things you shouldn't say in a video interview
1. “Sorry, I need to let the dog out.”
This applies to any kind of avoidable distraction. Make sure you won’t have any disturbances in the environment where you’ll be interviewing. This means no interfering pets or family members, no pizza delivery people ringing your doorbell, and no plumber coming to check on your pipes.
If you’re doing the interview from home and you live with others, make sure you communicate your interview needs to them. Ask for low noise levels and no interruptions in the "interview room." After all, you would expect these types of interruptions in an in-person meeting.
2. “What’s wrong with your video setup? I can’t see you.”
If you can’t see or hear your interviewer, you should tell them something’s up. Quickly but politely let them know. Something like “Excuse me, but I think there might be a problem with your video system” will do the trick.
3. “Don’t pay attention to the mess.”
Remote interviews sometimes let people have a look at your personal space. If you keep that space disorganized, clean it before your interview. Your house doesn’t have to be spotless, but you should at least straighten up anything that your webcam will capture.
Aim for a mostly-blank, off-white wall as a backdrop. Your environment shouldn’t distract from the interviewer’s focus: you.
4. “Can I call you back?”
Say your mom calls you in the middle of your interview. Just because a digital interview may seem more casual doesn’t mean that it is, so don’t take her call.
If you’re using a computer, exit out of all messaging apps before your interview starts. It's a good idea to put your phone on silent, too. Not only are distractions unhelpful to you, but the beeps and rings of friends trying to contact you come across as the opposite of professional.
5. “I don’t think my connection is working.”
Test your Wi-Fi connection before your interview begins. If your call gets dropped halfway through, you’ll look disorganized and unreliable.
Some tech problems are unavoidable, but you can prepare yourself for many connection issues by checking out your Wi-Fi setup. Know your at-home Wi-Fi is spotty? Ask a friend if you can use her house.
Oh, and don’t conduct a remote interview from a public place if you can help it: Not only are they noisy, but they have unreliable internet connections. You don’t want the local coffee shop to kick you off their network in the middle of an interview, because you’ve reached the 90-minute allotment the coffee shop gives.
6. “I’ve never done a Skype interview before.”
While it may be true that you’ve never done a Skype interview before, you don’t have to tell that to your interviewer. Recognize that camera interviews come with their own set of awkward moments, like adjusting the camera or volume, voice/video lag, and people talking over each other, because they can’t read in-person body language.
Instead of revealing how nervous or awkward you feel, try to stay in the moment. Digital interviews aren’t the norm yet, and your interviewer may be feeling just as weird as you.
7. “Can we transition this to phone/in-person?”
If you’re not a Skype person, it may be tempting to ask to move an interview to another channel. However, if the interview has already started, don’t try to change the way you and your interviewer are communicating. You run the risk of looking demanding and unprepared (what if your interviewer doesn’t have another way to interview you right now?).
Accommodation is key
When you receive an email asking to set up a digital interview, only decline if you don’t have the technology to do one (maybe you don’t have a webcam, for example). If you don’t have the call/video app your interviewer uses, that’s not an excuse. Download it.
Try to be as accommodating of your interviewer’s requests as possible. You’ll seem more flexible that way — and your efforts to accommodate will reflect well on you in the overall hiring process.