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NewsOK: Mind Your Own Business: Interview etiquette same whether in-person or online

by Paula Burkes

Would you wear bring your cat or wear a tank top to a job interview?

In video interviews, candidates have done that and more, according to Menlo, Calif.-based Robert Half staffing company.

Teleconferencing bloopers include jobseekers who took calls from their girlfriend, ate breakfast and played video games, while dogs strode on screen, tots appeared asking mommies what they were doing, doorbells peeled and workmen banged in the background.

The humorous grist came from interviews with more than 600 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States and Canada, who say that video interviews are becoming more and more common, especially when travel is involved or there’s a long list of qualified applicants.

Job applicants should treat video interviews with the same level of professionalism as in-person meetings, said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. “Putting your best foot forward doesn’t mean just looking and acting the part, but also ensuring that your environment is free of distractions,” McDonald said.

Oklahoma City-based Mosaic Personnel staffing firm has had success with video interviews recently, spokeswoman Michelle Hubble said.

“The key, as with any interview, is making sure the candidate and client both know what to expect and how to prepare,” Hubble said.

The firm talks with candidates about proper lighting and how to dress, and helps them test the functionality of their devices, she said. “Making sure they have a quiet place to go and are able to use a laptop or a device stand helps ensure a professional interview,” she said.

Video interviewing has distinct advantages over phone interviews, Hubble said. “It allows for more context, as you can see the candidate’s facial expressions as they discuss the interview topics,” she said.

But, rarely is the video interview the final interview for clients, Hubble said. Rather, they use it as a tool to determine whether to bring an out-of-town candidate in for a formal interview, she said.

Robert Half offers the following tips for job seekers for a successful video interview:

  1. Test your technology. Download the video platform being used for your interview well in advance. Test your webcam, microphone and speaker to ensure they are working properly.
  2. Do a trial run. Ask a friend to conduct a mock video interview and provide you with an honest critique. You may find you need to practice pausing momentarily before responding to ensure the interviewer is done speaking.
  3. Pick a quiet, well-lit space. Make sure pets and family members don’t interrupt the flow of the interview. Set your phone to silent, and disable any on-screen notifications.
  4. Dress professionally. Look your professional best from head to toe. Avoid patterns that could be distracting on camera.
  5. Direct eye contact to the camera when speaking, nodding noticeably, smiling, maintaining good posture and making appropriate hand gestures a bit more than you typically would can help you appear more engaged on screen.
  6. Send a thank-you. Extend the same politeness you would after an in-person interview.

Mind Your Own Business @ work and @ home.

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