The use of video for interviewing job candidates is nothing new and has definitely been on the uptick in recent years. Still, no one could have predicted just how reliant managers, human resources professionals and recruiters would become on video conferencing to make hiring decisions until the recent global pandemic.
For companies still hiring (and there are a lot!) some of their only options to meet a person before they make a hiring decision is through the use of video interviewing. So, if you’re currently in a job search, it’s more important than ever to be cognizant on how to prepare for a video interview. Is it much different from an in-person interview?
Regardless of an interview format, the endgame for a candidate is to make a good first impression, have the skillset to do the work and answer all the questions the interviewer asks appropriately.
However, with the onslaught of video and other technologies, you need to prepare for glitches that could arise (that would not occur if you were in-person) in addition to brushing up on your interview skills. Fortunately, there are some good best practices out there to follow for video interviewing, that can make your virtual meeting with a potential employer go as smoothly as possible.
So, here are 10 Tips to Crush Your Next Video Interview.
- Take the video call in a setting where you can control the environment.
Decide whether you are going to use your computer audio or dial-in on your phone. Test out both and see what gives you better reception and then go that route. A headset or headphones tend to give you better audio and will allow your hands to be free. You also want to make sure you have strong Wi-Fi. If it is spotty, you may want to opt for a hard internet cable to plug into your laptop. Lastly, make sure the background is decluttered and full of natural light. If you must use a lamp, place it in front of you as opposed to behind you to reduce shadows.
- Position the laptop so that the webcam is eye level and puts you in a flattering angle.
Find the actual camera and practicing talking while looking at it instead of looking at the face on the screen. Also, you don’t want the camera facing up at you or down at you. If it’s level, that will likely show you in the best light.
- Arrange for children and pets to be out of earshot.
Video interviews just like regular interviews will be scheduled ahead of time. Make sure that you have arrangements for someone to look after your children and/or pets so that they cannot be seen or heard. You do not want any distractions to take away from your interviewing abilities.
- Refrain from drinking, eating or smoking during the call.
With the exception of a bottle of water—which you should plan to have next to you—you should not have any other food or beverage near you on the video call. You do not want to risk spilling coffee or a soda and making a mess on camera. This will come off as amateurish and ill-prepared. Also, this should go without saying, but refrain from any type of smoking or e-cigarette use on a video call, no matter the industry you are interviewing for.
- Dress to impress.
You should dress in the manner you would for an in-person interview. Keep in line with the culture of the company. Be sure to dress from head to toe, even if you think you will only be viewed from the chest up. You never know if what could happen where you may be adjusting in your seat and your full length comes into view.
- Take a practice run.
Like anything, practice makes perfect. Have someone role play the video interview with you so that you can get used to being seen on video. Take any notes they give you to heart and practice to correct them. Eye contact can be tricky with the various placement of the webcam on laptops. Do the best you can to come across as natural and yourself.
- Remember to smile.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Keep the conversation light but professional. Smile when appropriate and overall display a positive vibe. The times we are all experiencing might be heavy in nature. But, showing you are making the most of an unprecedented situation will go a long way to the interviewer.
- Set your phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’.
Make sure that you have your phone on silent at the very least. If you have the option to set your phone on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ (DND) setting, that is even better. This will keep all calls, texts, emails and any other push notifications from coming through during this time. Having your phone on silent can help, but often the notifications come through on vibrate, which can be distracting. So, if you have the DND button, use it.
- Have a notepad, pen and resume on your desk next to your laptop.
Be prepared with questions written down prior to the video interview. Rehearse them so that you don’t have to look down and read them. Have them next to you only for guidance. Jot down any notes that are critical for you to remember. Keep your eyes up as much as possible, even when you are writing. It’s important to keep a copy of your resume at your fingertips, too, only as a last resort to look up something you might need to remember such as dates or systems experience.
- Say ‘Thank You’ at the end of the call and even offer a wave.
It also should go without saying, but end the call with a genuine Thank You and smile. Reiterate your interest in the open position. Ask about next steps or a general timeline. Follow up with the interviewer with an email to thank them. If you have not heard back from them in the timeline they mentioned, follow up one more time after that. The times we are experiencing are definitely changing processes and flows. So, do not be surprise or assume the worst if you don’t hear something right away.
Being prepared for a video interview just as you would an in-person interview is crucial. Coming off polished and put together will set you apart from others vying for the same position. Be sure to embrace the video medium as much as you can—it’s likely here to stay. Remember, often the most sought-after positions go to the candidates with the most impressive interviewing skills, not necessarily those with the top qualifications. Be prepared, and you’ll increase your chances of getting the role.
For more interview tips, download the Brilliant Candidate Interview Guide!