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What You Should Know About Video Interviews

Art Education and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

While school buildings remain closed, teacher hiring has shifted to video chat platforms to conduct interviews. This approach is more common in the corporate world and relatively newer in education. You’ll want to be ready for this new method if you’re planning on interviewing for a new position this year. Interviewing via video chat requires a different type of preparation and comes with different factors to consider. You might already be accustomed to video chatting with friends and family or your students, but interviewing comes with an additional layer of pressure and high stakes.

Decisions by the hiring committee can be heavily influenced by the overall experience, even if your responses are spot-on. It’s easy for a committee to get distracted by secondary factors like the technology or your setup. As a result, it’s important to nail the details within your control to set yourself up for success. Here are some things to consider:

Understanding the Platform

Take some time to become familiar with the video chat program before your interview. Practice using all of the features you could potentially use like audio, camera, sharing the screen, chatting, maximizing/minimizing the screen, viewing options, etc. Each program differs in navigation and layout, and you don’t want to be fumbling during the interview.

Internet Connection

computer on desk

Nothing can ruin a video chat like a lag in the network connection and a speaker cutting in and out. Don’t hesitate to ask for someone to repeat a question or comment that was unclear so you can be sure to give an accurate answer. You can help your connection by:

  • Using an ethernet cable with your computer
  • Closing applications or windows on your device that aren’t needed for the interview
  • Turning off any device you aren’t using for the interview, including your phone
  • Being aware (and testing) places with a good connection in your home. Try near the router!

Digital Portfolios

online portfolio showing ceramics

Be prepared to show digital images of student and personal artwork, even if it’s not requested in advance. Have images ready in an organized and manageable way to allow for smooth navigation and transitions. You’ll want to know how to easily share your screen with participants or enter a link in the chat window. Do not rely on email to send files shortly before the interview as they might not get there in time.

Potential Distractions 

door with sign saying "quiet!"

Take a minute to scan your space and think about potential distractions you might not otherwise even notice. This may include other people, pets—anything that makes a noise like a clock or a furnace, etc. You don’t want your dog barking at a neighbor to throw you off your game.

Space Setup

Finding the right space is important. Start by considering the background the committee will see. Make sure it’s clean, neatly organized, and reflects how you want the committee to see you. Don’t stress about creating an artistic vibe; a blank wall is also appropriate. Test the lighting and angle of your device in advance, so your image is clear. You also want to position your device and seating to be comfortable for at least an hour.

The Right Attire and Look

man in shirt and tie

While it might feel more casual, you still want to dress as you would if you were going into the school building for an interview. The more polished, the better. You won’t regret it. This includes trading in the pajama pants in case you have to stand up for any reason.

Perfect the Sound

Locate the microphone on your device so you know which direction to speak. Doing things like turning your head or looking off-screen while you talk can negatively impact audio quality. Recruit a friend in advance to help you test the distance you should sit from your device so you can be heard the best.

Communication and Wait Time 

Interactions via digital chat can be a little rockier than being in-person, and the interactions can feel slower. Digital delays and the platform can also make it tougher to recognize when two people are talking at the same time. After a question is asked, wait an extra half of a second to be sure they are finished speaking, and it’s your turn. Speak smoothly, confidently, and use your intonation to indicate when you’re done with your response.

Learn more: The Art Teacher’s Ultimate Guide to Getting Hired

The Early Bird Gets the Worm 

Similar to an in-person interview, you’ll want to be ready and in position a few minutes prior to the interview time. Have a glass of water next to you and tissue on hand in case you need them during the interview. Once the committee hits “start,” you want to be ready to go!

Interviewing on a video chat platform does have some advantages. You might be less nervous talking through the computer than in-person, and you don’t risk getting lost on your way to the building. There are, however, other elements at play with a video interview that you want to consider and prepare for in advance. Most of these factors are within your control and require a little extra time and forethought. This investment will pay off when everything goes smoothly, allowing you to focus on delivering solid responses. Overall a seamless experience for the hiring committee will reflect positively on your abilities and leave them wanting more.

What are some of the biggest interview mistakes to avoid? 

What programs are good to prepare a digital portfolio?  

Nick Gehl

Contributor

Nick is the Department Chair of Fine Arts at Evanston Township High School. He enjoys working with arts teachers to improve the student experience in the studio.

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