Job interview

Guide to video interview success

Video interviews aren’t completely novel since the pandemic. We’re sure a number of you had done telephone interviews and perhaps the odd skype one before the pandemic, particularly if you were looking for a role overseas. However, given the stay at home order we’ve all been living under since March 2020, the use of video interview’s has exploded. For some people, video interviews have suited them and they’ve been able to perform even better than at face to face whereas the opposite was true for those who excelled at face to face.

Much of what you need to do to be successful with video interviews is the same as for face to face. You still need to do lots of preparation and research. At the end of the day, an interview is very much like a sales pitch. You should understand the needs of the organisation in order to demonstrate how you are the best solution to fit that need.

 

RESEARCH

Find out as much as you can about the organisation, the role and the team that this role fits into. There are loads of tools available from Google, LinkedIn, youtube and other social media to internet news feeds, glassdoor etc. You may even be able to utilise your network and ask people about the organisation, role and team from those who are already working with them, either as employees, suppliers or customers. You should be able to confidently explain to someone else what the organisation does and, critically, how they do it.

Additionally, do a bit of self-analysis against the job profile or job advert. Know what strengths you can offer that the organisation is looking for. Also, appreciate the weaknesses in your experience and skill-set as this will help you prepare answers for questions about that during the interview.

One of the benefits of video interviewing to face to face is that it’s much easier for you to refer subtly to your prepared notes. You can keep them to the side of you or have them up on an additional screen if you’ve got that set up. You won’t get away with reading them however, as the interviewer will be able to see your eyes moving. This preparation is something you can be doing days ahead of the interview, depending on the notice you are provided.

 

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Firstly, find somewhere quiet with minimal distractions. Sometimes, this might involve negotiation with a partner to get the best spot in the house. Or maybe someone taking the children or dog out whilst you’re on the interview.

When it comes to location, with a video interview, beware of what’s behind you as it can influence someone’s view of you. This is why lots of people situated themselves with bookcases behind themselves with lots of intelligent looking books visible. Alternatively, in many video systems now, you can blur your background or put up a picture of your own or from the systems stock images to go behind you instead.

 

SET-UP

Avoid having people come to your door. Avoid scheduling deliveries for your interview slot. If that’s unavoidable, provide delivery instructions that don’t involve the door bell ringing whilst you’re in the middle of explaining how awesome you are. Whilst most interviewers will be understanding, it will disrupt the flow of the interview.

Do switch off your phone or have it on airplane mode. This is the same as for face to face. Again, you want to minimise distractions and keep your focus and attention on the interview.

If you can, reduce the load on your wifi by switching off any other wifi enabled devices or move them to use data networks instead. This will help ensure that there is less likelihood of being frozen or having distorted sound.

If you don’t have a laptop and you’re using a phone, please use something to stabilise it. We’ve had this a few times and again, it can be quite distracting and nauseating potentially as well. Prop a phone up on something or use a tripod that you can purchase from amazon or any other decent electrical retailers.

Also beware of lighting. We’ve conducted interviews where we could barely see the candidate. Either they were backlit with a window behind them, or they had so much sunlight coming into the room that it washed them out. It may be worthwhile drawing the curtains and putting on the lights in the room instead.

Another benefit of video interviews, is that you don’t need to worry about the logistics of getting to an organisation. You don’t need to worry about finding it, unforeseen traffic issues, parking etc. However, you should still do some technology checks for the video interview.

Do test the technology where possible. Whilst Zoom and MS teams are probably the most popular platforms, there are many others out there. Before joining, test that the system recognises your camera and microphone allowing you to be seen and heard. We’d normally suggest to our candidates to turn up to a physical interview around 10 minutes before the start time. For video, if you’re including the testing of tech, you probably want to be aiming for the same.

 

FINAL PREPARATION

Do take a drink with you. Normally, of course with face to face, you’d be offered a drink. With virtual you have to sort that out yourself. You will be doing a lot of talking, so make sure you’ve got a drink to stop your voice going hoarse.

Even though you’re not face to face, you should still dress professionally, at least on the upper half of your body. You could of course sit there in your pants if you like but put a shirt or smart top on. Impressions do still count with video interviews and you want to show you’ve made an effort.

One of the major differences with video vs face to face is that you can’t use body language as much. Also, because you’re having to look at a screen, you can feel a bit more stilted in your communication. This can make it slightly more challenging to build rapport with your interviewers. So you’re less likely to be able to charm your way into a job offer. Whilst there isn’t much of a work around for this, we suggest you work on your answers to likely questions, such as those related to your experience and skills that are in the job ad.

 

2-WAY PROCESS

Finally, make sure you have questions prepared. An interview is a 2-way process. It’s as much about making sure the role fits you and your aspirations as well as the organisation ensuring you’re the right fit for them. Additionally, it shows a deep level of interest in the organisation. It’s worth having a good list but some options include;

  • What would a typical day/week/month look like for the successful candidate?
  • What would you expect the successful candidate to achieve in the first 3/6 months?
  • What areas of concern do you have about my application that we can cover off now?
  • What do you enjoy about working here?
  • What are the next steps?