Lights, Camera, Action! : Prepping for Your First Digital Interview


Submitted by Barbara Schultz, HR Executive / Community Career Center Career Coach and Board of Director Member / Writer

 

Are you ready for your close up?  Well, you’ll need to be if you want to ace your first digital interview.   While “digital interviewing” is not a household term just yet , it is quickly becoming a popular screening tool for tech companies, as well as organizations with high volumes of positions to fill and a limited time to fill them.

Let’s be clear on what a digital interview is and what it is not.  Picture a hybrid of a phone interview and now you’ve added a video aspect. This screening tool is referred to as “on-demand” as opposed to a “live” video such as Skype.   The interview will be conducted from your home where you record a session that a recruiter can view when s/he chooses to watch. As for the job seeker, that recording can be done within about 3 days of the employer’s invitation; making the time for you to “show up for the interview” less prescriptive than a traditional interview.

The actual mechanics work like this.  You apply online and if your resume is selected, you will get an invitation sent through e-mail to access the interview session.  Questions will be presented to you in the form of text on your PC screen.  Simply answer the questions verbally while your video image is displayed; there will be no Interviewer’s face on the other end.    

Because each employer has a slightly different set up within their system, it’s critical that you open the invitation and read through the instructions BEFORE the actual recording so you can be nimble in navigating their screens.  

Next step is to literally have your house in order as it will serve as the backdrop for your session.  This means you have a neat and tidy space to set up your PC. Do you have a quality microphone? Is your video camera clear? Have you checked your surroundings for any background noise?

 All the rules you already know about the importance of your personal appearance apply, but now add the dimension of lighting and background and consider how they impact your messaging.   The best way to demonstrate how different this setting can be is for you to literally conduct a screen test.  This dry run allows you time to observe how your hair, complexion, and voice promote you as a candidate or serve as a distraction.  A completely neutral backdrop is acceptable but if you add wall art, trophies, etc. make sure they support the image you want to portray. Look directly into the camera on your device and make sure your camera height is level with your face or you will appear to be looking down, rather than at the (virtual) Interviewer. If it helps, imagine that there is a real person on the other end.  The more natural and credible you come across to the Interviewer, the better your chance to proceed to the next round.   

More on what actually happens during the course of your session. Each question is timed with a countdown clock located in the corner of the screen. Always important to succinctly answer the question asked of you.  As you respond to questions, the time is visibly running down on the clock.  If you complete the answer before the time allotted, advance the screen to the next question to avoid falling into the abyss of a visual dead zone until the next prompt appears. Conversely, answer the question within the time limit so you’re not cut off midsentence.  You’ll also need to get it right the first time as you can’t go back to a question that you already answered.  There is, however, a certain tolerance by employers for a redo.  For example, in the case of a total mechanical failure (e.g. your computer crashes, have major technical difficulties, etc.), you may call the hiring company and request a second chance once you have your system up and running.

The good news is that you do the interview when you want, where you want; within the company’s prescribed response time.  Questions are standardized allowing for a more level playing field.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to gauge the Interviewer’s response but you do have the opportunity to see how YOU come across.  Actually, that’s more than you would know about your appearance compared to a face to face interview or a traditional phone screen.  By the way, some Employer’s websites provide an option in which you can turn off your video image so only they can see it.  If you find looking at your own image is throwing you off your game, then go ahead and enable that feature.

The types of digital interviews fall into a few basic screening categories: traditional questions and scenarios in which you describe how you would handle a situation.  They could include a more complex problem solving exercise (e.g. write computer code for an app) and submit the document online during the session.   In that case, greater time would be allotted; maybe 15 minutes or so.

In the unlikely event that you’d consider “fudging” an answer and invite someone to your studio and out of sight to help answer the questions-DON’T.  Companies have safeguards to detect that kind of activity and will disqualify you immediately.  

No need to wait till you get an actual invitation for a digital interview.  Do a dress rehearsal with an objective friend, using Skype or any other video conferencing app. This allows you to test out your equipment, see how your voice sounds; check out your overall look and delivery. Your friend can provide constructive feedback to modify your presentation as needed.

By the way, don’t forget to keep using all the tried and true rules of preparation for a “normal” interview.  Prepare responses to questions that are likely to be asked, especially those that may be difficult for you.  The less you leave to chance, the more confident and successful you will be.     

You can be a real star of your own show, just follow these cues and wait for your casting call! 




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