03/04/2014 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

The 3 Cs of a Video Interview

As March begins, we move firmly into the independent school hiring season. If you’re in the midst of a job search, you might find that you’re juggling several different types of interviews: phone interviews, on-campus interviews, conference interviews (if you’re an active CS&A candidate), and, increasingly, video interviews.

Tools like Zoom and Skype can be a very helpful tool for job-seeking candidates, particularly those who are interviewing at a school in a remote location and who might not have the opportunity to venture on-campus. If you’re preparing for a video interview, here are the “Three Cs” to create success.

1. Control

Some people are nervous about interviewing on camera. They feel awkward speaking to someone face-to-face through a computer, and they worry that they look or speak strangely using this medium.

If that describes you, take control of that fear and let it morph into an advantage. Try to control any feelings of discomfort—if you feel awkward, odds are your interviewer does too. Video calls offer possibilities that speaking over the phone doesn’t: you can read and react to your interviewer’s body language, make eye contact and engage the hiring contact by smiling, nodding, and gesturing, and convey your personality through your tone and facial expressions.

So, take control. If a school contact asks to interview you over the phone, do her one better—consider suggesting a video interview. Many will appreciate the opportunity to get to know you a little better—without even meeting you in person.

2. Clarify

If a school requests a video interview with you, congrats! Before you dust off your webcam, clarify: ask if the contact is requesting an audio or video interview. As you would with a phone interview, clarify the time, and make sure you set aside enough so you have a comfortable cushion on either end. Video interviews tend to take a little longer than phone interviews; prepare for this possibility.

3. Clean Up

When you’re interviewing over the phone, all you have to worry about is your own comfort and the volume of your surroundings. If you’re interviewing amid clutter, the interviewer will be none the wiser. Not so for a video interview. When you agree to interview on video, you are essentially inviting the hiring contact into a portion of your home. They can see several feet behind and beside you, so make sure the area is presentable and professional. Clean up any clutter, and remove anything embarrassing or unprofessional from sight. Consider moving the guilty-pleasure movie poster you’re slightly embarrassed about that hangs behind your desk, or any other items that could make an interviewer raise an eyebrow. The space in which your interview should be unremarkable: you want the focus to be on you.

If you're using a platform where you have an account name, like Skype, you can apply the same “clean up” logic to your account itself. If you created your account for personal use and your username is unprofessional or offensive, create a new account with a simple, professional name. You wouldn’t email a school from “divaprincess123@yahoo.com” – don’t Skype with them from that address, either.


Once you’ve mastered the three Cs of the video interview, all that’s left to do is prepare. Practice in advance to make sure you know what portions of the room your webcam picks up, ask a friend to conference in with you to ensure your audio and video works properly, and try to avoid looking at your own picture while you’re speaking on camera: look into the webcam to create the best semblance of eye contact. Video is a helpful tool for interviewers and candidates alike: use it to the best of your ability, and good luck!

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