Online Interview Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

The online interview can require some mental adjustment, if you're used to doing interviews in person. Adding to the effect is the fact that you may have to do an online test, a video interview, and in some cases a "live chat" version of the interview. The online interview is actually quite simple. It's structured the same way as a face to face interview, and it's becoming more popular with employers as a time-saver. In fact, this is really no more than a normal job interview. It just looks and "feels" different, and takes a bit of adjustment to get used to it.

Preparing for an Online Interview

The only truly new element in the online job interview is the web cam or computer camera. If you haven't worked with a web cam before, get one, and practice using it:

Learn how to set up your end of the interview. Most of the time all you'll need to do is turn on the web cam. This can occasionally vary a bit depending on your software and the employer's, but usually the interview uses standard equipment and it's no major issue.

Make sure you've got the microphone volume right. This takes some fiddling around, but your playback should be clearly audible, like a natural speaking level. Learn how to speak normally to the microphone. If you've got a directional microphone, be aware that you need to point your mouth directly at the microphone. Practice so you're sure the microphone is positioned properly for you. 

Practice working with the web cam. Look directly at the web cam, when speaking. Some practice will make this feel perfectly natural. Move your seat around until you've got a good set up where you can sit naturally in front of the camera. There are usually some default settings which will do most of the work. If you're not sure, stick to the default settings.

Relax! You need to be comfortable, and able to concentrate on the interview, not the fine points of camera operation. Practicing in front of the camera is the only way to do this. 

Mistakes to Avoid

Camera background: Don't have anything inappropriate showing in the background. Keep your work area very neat and tidy.

Dress and appearance: Remember to present yourself properly. Dress in basic business clothes, a suit is optional, but make sure you look good. Check your appearance in the web cam before going live.

Live chat interviews: Don't type more than you need to type if you do a "live chat" version of the online interview. These interviews aren't particularly common, but in some cases where a video interview isn't possible, it's an alternative method.

Don't hurry yourself: Like any job interview, "Think before you speak".Working through a camera can make you try to do too much in a hurry. Pace yourself, speak normally and clearly.

Don't get too "chatty". It's easy to say too much. That blows out the interview time, and can irritate interviewers who may have up to 20 other interviews scheduled. Keep your answers clear and functional.