Our lives and cultures have dramatically shifted over the past few weeks, steering many of our future career plans awry. For new optometry graduates, interviewing and finding your first job, which can already seem intimidating, may not even be the process you originally anticipated.
Video interviews are hardly a new idea. Many companies already use them to bridge geographical gaps, increase convenience and increase cost-effectiveness. For large companies, like Google, tele-interviews help navigate large applicant pools more effectively and efficiently. The frequency of use of video interviews is increasing exponentially; both in the business world and in healthcare. In 2011, approximately 14% of all companies used video interviews “often” or “very often” and recently this number is up to almost 70% (based on data collection from over 500 HR managers).
A typical video interview takes about 30 minutes of time, but the interviewer generally has their first impression of a candidate within the first 90-seconds; let’s make that time count! This article will provide you with the ins and outs of the optometry video interview process to ensure you have the necessary skills to tackle them.
Types of video interviews
Two-way interviews are what we typically think of when we consider an interview; interviewer(s) and an interviewee communicating in real-time. Employers will most likely record two-way interviews for reviewing later and/or sharing with other decision-makers. There are also one-way interviews in which the interviewer provides questions and the interviewee records and submits the responses. A one-way interview can also be used as a preliminary interview to screen applicants. Those identified as strong candidates are then invited for a second two-way interview follow-up.
While an optometry video interview may seem less intimidating than a formal in-person interview, there are certain important differences that need to be acknowledged. If you do not consider these potential issues beforehand, it could be to your detriment. Luckily most aspects of the video interview can be controlled for by practice and planning and so we will present some important “dos” and “don’ts” in the following section.
How to have a great video interview
Tip #1: Write a script
Make a script and rehearse just as you might for an in-person interview. Having some responses rehearsed by memory will calm your nerves and allow you to provide more thoughtful and thorough answers. Depending on your setup, you may want to write down key points on post-it-notes and place them just above or adjacent to your screen. These can act as quick reminders but should only be a few key words! You do not want to be suspected of reading off a “cue card.”
Tip #2: Do your research
Research the company or practice and the interviewer in advance. Have an idea where and how you would fit in and what you would bring to the employer currently and in the future. Do you bring a specialty that is not currently being offered? Are you especially marketing oriented or social media savvy?
Tip #3: Get ready to show your knowledge
Be prepared to work through sample patient cases. Are you interviewing for an ocular disease practice? Review your tenants for treating glaucoma, vascular disease, retina conditions etc. Are you interviewing for a vision therapy practice? Consider having some basic treatment plans for common conditions in mind. Does the practice rely heavily on contact lens business? Consider your preferred fitting modalities and examples of problem solving you’ve used for difficult fittings. Prepare a few interesting patient cases to share and be able to explain how you worked your way through them.
Tip #4: Have your strengths and weaknesses (and plans to improve) ready to go
Consider what your clinical strengths and weaknesses are; what are some ways you can improve on your weak areas? If you have any special interests such as professional writing or research be prepared to discuss those as well- they can help you stand out. Have a few stories that have made you excited about optometry! You can be sure the prospective employer is looking for someone with enthusiasm toward the field.
Tip #5: Think about how you'll work with a team
Working in any hospital or practice, getting along with staff is imperative; you can almost guarantee you will be asked about teamwork skills and philosophies on conflict resolution. Brainstorm times you used creative problem solving or exhibited leadership.
Tip #6: Bring your questions for them!
Have questions prepared for the interviewer. While you are on the video interview, you can use this to your advantage by asking for a tour of the office or hospital. If you are interested in a specialty that is offered you may want to ask to see the setup or equipment; for example, to see the vision therapy room or a certain new diagnostic technology being used.
Tip #7: Don't forget your resume or CV
Have a copy of your resume or curriculum vitae and any other materials you may have shared with the interviewer; that way you can quickly reference the material when they inevitably ask. Also keep a notepad and pen on the table in case you need to jot down answers to any questions that you’ve prepared. You may want to keep a glass of water or water bottle nearby in case you need a quick sip.
Tip #8: Prepare your space
Create a designated interview space—a quiet area without distraction and with good lighting. Try to choose an area with a neutral colored background. If you are in a shared space, consider putting a “do not disturb” sign on the door.
Tip #9: Dress professionally: No, pants are not optional
Dress the part. Presentation on a video interview is just as important as an in-person interview. This means head-to-toe, as you never know if the interviewer may ask you to play out a scenario or you may need to stand up to get something.
Tip #10: Know the software
Familiarize yourself with the software being used. Zoom conferences, Skype and Google Hangouts are among the most popular. They are all relatively easy to navigate. It would behoove you to practice with the software and avoid any mishaps during the stressful interview situation.
Tip #11: Look at the camera
Do your best to make eye contact. This can be difficult because technically this means looking toward the camera and only occasionally, glancing at the screen. Try not to watch yourself on the screen, except initially to ensure you are centered and set up properly. That is why practicing is a great idea to avoid unnecessary visual scanning or appearing unfocused.
Tip #12: Practice makes perfect, take two
Do a live test run, or two. Ask a friend or colleague to practice with you on the software to make sure everything runs smoothly with your account. This also allows you to test out your microphone and internet connection to work out any kinks. Make sure your voice is clear and audible or adjust volumes accordingly.
Tip #13: Don't forget to smile!
End the interview with a statement of interest. Smile and be enthusiastic (within reason). Try something along the lines of “After meeting with you and discussing the opportunity in detail, I am very interested in the position and think I would be a great fit. I look forward to hearing from you regarding this opportunity.” Don’t forget to send a follow-up thank you email!
Bonus: What not to do for a video interview
- Don’t have juvenile or unprofessional usernames for your accounts. This is also true for an icon or picture associated with your username. If you are not sure if your account name or picture are appropriate, consider creating a new account for the purpose of your interviews.
- Don’t use your cell phone for the interview. A computer is best so that the screen is steady and motion is not distracting to the interviewer. It allows you to make better eye contact and remain centered appropriately on the screen, and it allows you to assume a comfortable position and allow for hand gestures. If you do not have access to a computer, consider investing in a tripod or stand for your phone or tablet so that you are not stuck holding it during the interview.
- Don’t wear distracting clothing or loud prints or patterns. Certain prints with small details may not transfer well over video especially during movement. If you are not sure, try taking a video of yourself and re-evaluate.
- Don’t check your phone during the interview. Assuming you are following rule #2 above and do not video chat on your phone, make sure you set it on silent and safely tuck it away in a location that it cannot distract you.
- Don’t underestimate the power of a video interview. It is not more casual than an in-person interview; it is just a different modality. Think of and treat a video interview just as you would a real interview.
Video interviews are becoming increasingly popular as a modality for optometric professionals to meet with prospective employers, and this is not necessarily a bad thing! They do allow for greater scheduling flexibility and cut down on travel time and expenses. They allow candidates from a wider range of geographic areas to connect more easily. Additionally, they give both the interviewer and interviewee a way to gauge if the job would be a good fit through conversation and connections. Video can even be used to give a prospective candidate a tour of a practice or hospital if they have not had the opportunity to be there in person.
Video interviews can be just as effective at screening candidates than in-person interviews. Moving forward, optometry students and graduates should consider the ins and outs and “dos and don’ts” presented in this article to achieve success in video-interview endeavors.
- “Survey: Six in 10 Companies Conduct Video Job Interviews.” PR Newswire: Press Release Distribution, Targeting, Monitoring and Marketing, 30 June 2018.
- Tolan, Josh, and Josh Tolan. “The Growing Popularity of Video Interviewing Infographic - Spark Hire.” Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire, 24 July 2014.
- Caramela, Sammi. “Tips for Video Job Interviews.” Business News Daily, Businessnewsdaily.com, 17 Apr. 2018.
- Bhaduri, Abhijit. “A Beginner's Guide to Acing a Video Interview.” HBR Ascend, HBR Ascend, 16 Mar. 2020.