Whilst remote working continues to be the norm, anyone interviewing for a job in the next 6 – 12 months will most likely be doing it via a video call. Nothing beats in-person, face to face contact for rapport building, but in terms of giving a good interview, video can actually have the edge and help you perform in a much more structured, calm and professional manner.
If you have a video interview coming up, run through this checklist beforehand to be sure you’ve set yourself up to succeed.
If you’re using a home wifi connection make sure you’ve done everything to prevent any lags or reduction in video quality. If there are other people are home, especially kids, it may be a good idea to make sure they aren’t gaming, watching Netflix on mobile devices or even having their own conference calls. Also, close any other programs on your computer that could potentially slow your connection down.
Make sure you give the interviewer your undivided attention just as you would if you were sitting in their office. That means switching off your phone and closing any email programs or other apps that might send you unhelpful onscreen pop-ups during your call.
If you have a child at home, make sure they’re entertained during the call and if there is a chance you might have your space invaded (like that TV News reporter working from home), it’s best to warn the interviewer upfront of this. Everyone who’s had to work remotely because of COVID-19 is in a very unique situation and I guarantee they’ll be understanding of unavoidable interruptions, but it’s always best to pre-empt this if it’s a possibility. Also, try to avoid barking dogs or cats leaping into view.
Sound & Vision
Test out your webcam, microphone, and speakers.
When it comes to the camera, think about how you physically position yourself as you don’t want to be too close or too far away. Next, consider your background. What is behind you that the other party will be looking at whilst looking at you? You don’t want a “busy” background with lots of clutter on shelves, large bright posters or anything that could distract the interviewer’s attention away from you. Likewise, a plain background can be a bit boring so choose the space behind you carefully. It may be appropriate for the industry you work in to be a bit more creative and use a virtual background, but maybe sanity check your choice with a friend beforehand.
For the audio, make sure you test your speakers and microphone on the chosen platform ahead of your call. Do a practice interview (more on this below) and test that the other party doesn’t hear themselves echoing if your speakers’ output is too close to your microphone.
The use of headphones is a good idea as not only will it focus you on what the other person is saying, but will also help eliminate potential background noise distractions. In this case, earbuds tend to look more professional than large gaming headphones. Unless of course you’re interviewing as a Games Designer in which case, they may actually be a talking point!
When thinking about how you appear on webcam, give some consideration to lighting. One of the best positions to be in is near a window with natural light. You want to avoid the glare of the sun or a bright overhead light on you and the screen and at the same time avoid the picture being too dark.
Just because you aren’t attending an interview in person doesn’t mean you can rock up on cam in your sweatpants and a vest, regardless of the temperature outside. The best advice is to dress as if you’re starting your first day with the company. So if the employees wear suits and formal wear, dress to match. If you’re interviewing with a startup, it will most likely be a lot less formal if not completely casual. If you have no one to ask about this, take a look at their website or social media for images of their team at work.
This has to be the best thing about doing a video interview, you get to practice it, record it and redo it until you’ve nailed it. The days of worrying about giving a bad interview are over.
This is what you want to focus on in your practice run:
- Check your profile name if you’re using a platform that you already have an account with such as Zoom. Maybe your online gaming or dating nickname isn’t appropriate for an interviewer to see straight off the bat.
- Roleplay an interview with a friend asking you random questions you haven’t prepared yourself (don’t worry, it’s not a polygraph test). What this will do is show you how you naturally react to questions you aren’t expecting, need to think about it or have to argue a point on the spot. You’ll then learn about physical and verbal props you might have a habit of leaning on in interview scenarios. Things like fidgeting with your hands, darting your eyes around or repeating things like “you know”, “like”, or “Ummm”. Now is the time to address these habits and consciously limit them in an interview situation.
- If it helps with your confidence or ability to speak about past achievements, you can have your CV in front as a prop as well as any other kind of cue card that you think may help. If you’ve got specific experience that’s relevant for the job and you don’t want to forget it, stick it on a card below the camera so you can glance at it as a reminder. Make sure you don’t leave the interview regretting to mention something relevant or asking a key question.
- If a presentation forms part of the interview, you definitely want to be doing a trial run, making sure any slides display correctly and that you know the difference between ending a screen share and ending a video call! Remember that anything you present should supplement and enhance your presentation and not replace the need for speaking (don’t ask people to sit and read things).
- Be punctual. Make sure you arrive early for the interview, just as you would if you were visiting an employer’s offices. This means log onto the video call a few minutes beforehand. I once had a candidate who was unsure how to access a virtual interview (they had to “knock” to gain access) and the CEO was left waiting alone for 3 or 4 minutes so cancelled the interview and refused to reschedule it. I personally felt this was a tad harsh but you want to make sure you avoid being that candidate.
That’s all there is to it. As long as you’ve tested the tech, eliminated any distractions, and thought how you’ll appear on video the only thing left to do is learn about the company, the role itself and nail it.