Video Interview Advice
With more employers using virtual software platforms such as Google Hangout, Zoom, Teams or Skype, video interviews are becoming a popular and an important part of the hiring process.
As with in-person interviews, the key to video interviews is to “be confident and show them your true self,”. But while overall objective of a job offer is the same, understanding the nuances of a video interview can make you more comfortable and successful with the entire process.
Using several reference sources, the following tips are for you to consider and build into your own preparation plan to give yourself the greatest chance of putting your best foot forward.
Prepare as for a normal interview
Just because the interview is virtual and not face to face, you still need to prepare. Thorough preparation in terms of knowing what you offer, where you are strong and where your potential weakness lies in relation to the role, will allow you to create and practise the answers and dictate how you want to come across and the message you want to convey.
Think about what you will be wearing
What you wear will influence how you feel and how the interview sees you. Find out what the dress code is and dress appropriately. Make sure what you are wearing works on camera and is not a distraction. If in doubt err on the side of caution.
Test your setup
Test your setup using the same platform, internet connection, and hardware you’ll be using for your interview by having a practice call with a friend or family member. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the programme and make sure you know the basics—especially how to mute and unmute your microphone.
Think about what is behind you.
Make sure the background behind you is not a distraction to the interviewer. Choose a quiet area and set up in front of the most neutral background you can, ideally keep it plain or, if this is not an option, most video-conferencing platforms, e.g., Zoom, Teams or Skype now have the facility to blur the background. Avoid using green screens as when you move the image can become pixilated.
Ensure your face is well lit. Sit somewhere with good (natural, if possible) light on your face and avoid having the only light source directly above you or behind you – it will put your face in shadow.
Practice your video interview skills
If you’re not used to video chat, you might find it a bit awkward at first—especially if you can see yourself as well. Setting up a mock video and answering questions in practice the same way you would in a real interview and recording it can help you zero in on anything you need to watch out for.
Pay attention to how you sound
People are concerned with how they look but often forget to think about how they sound, A good rate of well-paced, conversational speech ranges between 120 and 160 words per minute. Speaking too quickly can impair your speech clarity. This is something to be particularly aware of if you are not speaking in your mother tongue or you have a strong regional accent.
Use notes sparingly
If you are going to use notes in addition to your CV and the job description, restrict them to key words and stats that you can quickly glance at use as prompts, not whole answers. If you are using them, make sure you have practised with them as this will this show you whether you can use them without it disrupting the flow of the conversation.
On the day
Give yourself time and have a contingency plan.
On the day of the interview, you don’t want to be flustered and having to deal with computer updates just as you log on, so well in advance, ensure everything is fully backed up, charged and /or plugged in. Prepare a plan B, for example, have your phone set up and ready to switch to in case your Wi-Fi signal drops out or your webcam or laptop camera fails.
Be ready early
Prepare your computer by closing all extra windows and tabs. Before clicking to join the call take a few minutes to run a final check everything looks right. First impressions are everything, Make sure any material that you need to show online in the meeting is ready in an easy-to-access, but minimized, window.
Check you positioning
Just like a real interview, be mindful of distance. Being too close to the camera can be quite uncomfortable, unintentionally funny, or even intimidating to the interviewer, while being too far away can make it difficult for them to understand and engage with you. Make sure there’s a bit of empty space on the screen above your head and that your shoulders and upper chest are visible.
Prepare for optimal eye contact
In a video interview, you want to give the impression that you’re listening and engaged, so you want to be seen to be looking at their face. To achieve this, move the window where your interviewer will appear as close as possible to the camera on the monitor that you will be looking at. That way, when you look at them, as you naturally will during your conversation, you’re also looking at the camera.
Create a virtual connection
As there are no shaking hands, walking into the room, and sitting down etc in a virtual interview, it can be harder to build rapport as there is less time to settle in, so you need to actively focus on making a positive initial connection. Top do this, as you say hello, look right into the camera and smile, this small gesture can encourage an interviewer to feel more relaxed and want to get to know you better.
Do whatever you can to cut down on the chances of being interrupted. Ask anyone you share a space with not to disturb you and make sure you turn off or silence your phone and pause any notifications on your computer. If there’s a high chance of you being interrupted by something outside of your control, mentioning it at the start can prepare your interviewer and show them you’re proactive.
Maintain good posture
If you are at home, there is a tendency to be a little more relaxed but don’t let your posture become too relaxed. To help keep your interviewer’s attention on you and not your background, make sure you’re sitting in the central third of the screen and stay there as much as possible – too much moving about can be distracting to the interviewer, and you may come across as restless or nervous.
Nod and smile
With video interviews, the ability to give small murmurs of agreement can be severely compromised since often only one mic can be used at once. To maintain engagement and demonstrate understanding, nod, or smile to convey the message rather than speak. That way the interviewer still gets the feedback they need without your mic accidentally overriding theirs.
Let the interviewers finish
Whilst you might want to be seen as knowledgeable by immediately responding to question, doing this too quickly can be problematic over video chat as with the internet lag, it’s not always immediately apparent if someone has finished or just pausing. If you think your interviewer has finished, take an extra moment before you answer so you don’t fall into the trap of cutting them off or talking over them.
Signal when your answers are complete
In the same vein, it’s helpful for the other person if you signal the end of your answer, especially if it’s a long one. You can do this through a visual cue like nodding or you can make sure you conclude your answer strongly or ask the interviewer a question. A long silence while your interviewer guesses whether or not you’re done can be awkward.
Explain any long pauses
Because of the various limitations of video calls, it might not always be clear to your interviewer what you’re doing if no one is speaking. Tell them if you’re pausing to write down a few notes, pull up some information for them, or even just formulate your answer to a question. This shows that you’re aware of their experience while also reassuring them that no technical glitches have occurred.
Treat it as a conversation
Treat your video interview like a conversation because that’s the only way you’ll be able to make a connection. You don’t have the time before and after the interview to make small talk, so it’s important to make sure you build rapport during your interview. You want your interviewer to see you as someone they could talk to every day, not just someone they read a list of questions to.
Make sure to exit correctly
This may seem basic, but once your call has ended make sure you properly ‘hang up’. Don’t just switch windows or lock your device. If you were sharing your screen during the call, make sure that you stop sharing too, otherwise you may end up inadvertently broadcasting personal information or, for example, a social media feed you’d rather not have employers see. It never hurts to check.
At the end of the day, employers are looking for positive, enthusiastic candidates and when you’re online those emotions can often be harder to convey subtly. Remember, a video interview is really just a conversation between you and the interviewer with differing agendas but one common goal. Theirs is to determine whether your skills and experience are a good match for the job and yours is to learn more about the opportunity and to show that you’re the right person for the job.
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