Welcome to the era of the video interview.

Companies are increasingly using Skype, FaceTime or other apps to avoid the expense of ferrying promising job candidates to and from headquarters as part of the vetting process.

When you boil it down, it’s similar to auditioning for an acting role — the way you look and how you respond to the unexpected (on camera) can make or break whether you get the part.

In a recent Robert Half survey, senior managers recounted some funny video interview bloopers (you’ll seriously want to avoid these) and offered some helpful pointers, the most critical of which are: Be sure to do the interview in a place free of distraction and look your best with professional attire.

Let’s focus on the right way to approach a video interview with some practical dos and don’tsClick To Tweet:

 

1. Do rehearse (and dress) the part

It goes without saying that you’ll want to be punctual in taking the call, but also able to roll with the unexpected (we’ll get back to this point shortly).

Before the interview, try to minimize pre-interview jitters and tech glitches. Test your technology and, if possible, rehearse with a friend. At minimum, record yourself and listen or watch.

Get to a point where you feel comfortable in front of the camera. Sit up tall. Look lively. Smile. Use hand gestures. Avoid overhead lighting. Maintain eye contact with the webcam. Speak naturally as if the interviewer were sitting across the table from you.

Wardrobe note: Choose an outfit that projects confidence. During your video interview trial run, make sure clothing patterns aren’t distracting from your presentation.

2. Do your homework

Unlike an actor’s audition, the job interview is not a time for improvisation.

You’ll want to learn as much as possible about the company and the position. Review the job description. Read the company’s website, glance at reviews on Glassdoor, and research the company using the “news” button on Google or your favorite search engine.

If you know the name of the interviewing manager, look at his or her LinkedIn profile.

Practice video interview questions during your “audition” with a friend. Be prepared with brief stories about how you performed in previous positions, and for the probable job interview question, “Tell me about a time when you … .” Ask your friend for an honest critique about your performance.

Practice video interview questions during your “audition” with a friend. Click To Tweet

3. Don’t forget: Keep it simple

Avoid talking too much, or too little. If you do nothing else, be sure to cite examples of how you’ve delivered results in past roles, and explain how you’d be a great fit with the company culture you’ve researched.

By now, you’ve already practiced maintaining eye contact with the camera, smiling, and speaking clearly and with confidence. When in doubt, remember my law of threes: For every question, say no more than three short things, then stop talking. (Too often we babble too much in interviews). If the interviewer wants to know more, she will ask.

4. Don’t dwell on it if you stumble

If you happen to misstate the recruiter’s name or make another gaffe, apologize, compose yourself, and proceed with the task at hand. To err is human. The manner in which you recover will matter more than dwelling on your mistake.

5. Do be flexible, whatever the environment

In an ideal world, you’d be able to do the video interview from the comfort of your home office. The fact of the matter is, not many of us have that luxury, and recruiters today know this and are willing to accommodate unconventional video settings.

If you must take the interview from your car, or at a coffee bar on your lunch break, or before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. because you’re concerned your boss might find out, most employers will understand as long as you do it with poise and professionalism.

To recap, you’ll want to have worked out all the kinks before the video interview. Test your technology beforehand, make sure pets are out of earshot, children and spouses know not to disturb you, alarms and notifications are set to silent and, of course, dress appropriately — from head to toe. And don’t forget to send a handwritten thank-you note and – please – spell the recruiter or hiring manager’s name correctly.

With a little preparation, you’ll be set to nail your next video interview. Good luck!

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