Video interviews are now an essential step in the hiring process. While there are upsides to interviewing in the comfort of your own home, be sure to watch out for these common mistakes!

Recruiters reveal the worst interview gaffes

According to some 600 senior executives polled by Robert Half, a major staffing agency, job applicants are often unprofessional during video interviews.

Here are three common missteps highlighted in the survey.

1. Unwanted interruptions
According to the Robert Half survey, top executives have seen it all: dogs stealing the camera, children asking their parents what they’re doing and candidates interrupting interviews to answer the door or to talk to their spouses. These kinds of interruptions are all too common.

2. Acting too casual
Other executives have found that during video interviews, some applicants can get a little too comfortable. Some examples of unseemly behaviour include eating, getting dressed, playing video games and even chatting up the interviewer!

3. A less-than-ideal location
There have also been accounts of candidates who do their interviews at home, even though their houses are being renovated! It can be hard to hear what the interviewee has to say over the sounds of power saws and hammering!

Not taking the interview seriously

Marie Jacques, CHRP, can’t help but laugh at this list of missteps. As a headhunter, she has also had to deal with candidates who didn’t seem to take their video interviews seriously.

She gave an example of someone applying for an important position with a financial institution: “On paper, his application seemed too good to be true. But when he turned on his webcam, he was wearing a bathrobe, his hair was unkempt and he wasn’t wearing his dentures! You could see his kitchen and fridge in the background. And to top it all off, he had an aggressive tone throughout the interview. It was horrible!”

Jacques finds it unfortunate that video interviews, which are often used to weed out applicants before the final round, are trivialized. “Every step in the selection process is important,” she stresses.

How to stand out in your video interview

Since video interviews are becoming more and more common, knowing how to stand out on camera has become a must. And not only for live, but for pre-recorded interviews too.

Here are some tips from Jacques to help you prepare for either of these video interview formats.

1. Test before making the call
“Sometimes applicants have to try a few times before the call goes through,” Jacques says. It’s best to be familiar with the video app beforehand to avoid any hiccups. For pre-recorded interviews, it helps to know guidelines ahead of time (for instance, you have sometimes only three minutes to respond).

2. Do your homework
Jacques recommends preparing for your video call as though you were going to an interview in person. “Read the company’s entire website and come up with your own questions. Applicants should also be ready to talk about their backgrounds, achievements and goals.”

She also encourages candidates to printout a copy of the job description and their résumé so they can easily find the information they need during the interview.

3. Choose an appropriate environment
Choose a quiet location so you can easily communicate with your interviewer. It’s best to conduct your interview in a room with a closed door to keep out distractions.

And if something unexpectedly comes up during your interview? Acknowledge that it was unintentional and apologize, instead of pretending nothing happened. “It all comes down to maturity and professionalism,” adds Jacques.

4. Put yourself in the boss’s shoes
Jacques says that job seekers should consider the recruiter’s perspective to find areas that need improvement. What would the interviewer think of an applicant who interrupts the interview to take a call or who’s sitting in a messy bedroom full of unfolded laundry?

5. Don’t forget to follow up
“Often, interviewees don’t give me the impression that they love what they do or that they really want the position,” notes Jacques.

According to Jacques, in addition to appearing interested on camera, sending a thank you email afterwards is a good way to show that you’re motivated. Plus, it will help you stand out from the crowd.