Video Interview Tips – for Interviewers & Interviewees
Your preparation for a video interview should be the same as a normal face to face interview, no matter what side of the (virtual) table you are, whether it is researching the company if you are being interviewed or reading a candidate’s CV thoroughly if you are doing the interviewing.
Here we look at some of the extra things you need to think about when the interview is to be conducted online.
- Does your technology work? If the platform the video interview is being held on (e.g. Microsoft Teams; Skype; Zoom; Google Hangouts) isn’t something you use a lot, have a practice run with a friend or colleague. Check your webcam, audio and internet connection are operating as they should. Also ensure your username for whatever platform you are using is a professional one, if not, consider setting up another more appropriate one.
- Do you know how to use it? Did you see the news article about the lady below who turned on a potato filter in an online meeting and couldn’t turn it off? Imagine if that happened in an interview! Get yourself up to speed with how everything works beforehand.
- A Quiet Place – As best as you can, ensure where you are going to be located is going to be quiet for the duration of the call. Think about TVs, pets, washing machines; family members charging into the room. We probably all remember this guy being interviewed by the BBC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh4f9AYRCZY
- Set up of device – Ideally you will use a Laptop or desktop on a level and stable surface, rather than having to hold to a phone. Don’t have the webcam too close, ideally your face and shoulders will be framed with space around and it will be roughly level with your eyeline.
- Lighting – You are looking for even light across your face without shadows, so lights behind you that put your face in the dark are not ideal, but multiple lamps in the room, well positioned behind the webcam can do wonders. Again, this is something to test on a practice run.
- Background – The fewer distractions the better. Clear any clutter and mess and somewhere a family member won’t be walking behind you. Also - beware mirrors!!
- To have ready – Pen and paper, a copy of the CV and notes if needed, including questions you have prepared. A glass of water (just don’t knock it on the laptop!). Everything should be easy to access without shuffling around. Clear away everything you don’t need.
- Punctual – Be ready with everything you need 5 minutes before the scheduled video call. First impressions count, you don’t want the interviewer having to wait for you to log onto the call or do last minute adjustments.
What should you wear?
The same as you would for a face to face interview. Keep it professional and inline with the culture of the business.
Just like your surroundings, you want to have the interviewer / interviewee focused on what you are saying and not what you are wearing, so:
- Wear something that makes you feel professional and confident
- Avoid patterns and bright colours.
- Whilst it might be tempting not to bother looking smart with your lower half as the interviewer is likely to only see your head and shoulders, I would highly recommend being fully dressed in smart clothes in case you do have to stand up for something. It will make you feel more professional in front of the camera also. This is a risky strategy:
The interview itself
- Good posture on screen is important and try and keep your shoulders open.
- Eye contact is as important in video interviews as it is in real life – a little tip here is to look towards the webcam when you are talking (to recreate direct eye contact) and the screen when you are listening.
- Smile and be upbeat as you would in a normal interview and I would encourage expressing yourself and “talking with your hands” as you naturally would, just be aware how this is coming across on video and don’t go overboard as rapid movements can often look jittery if you don’t have a perfect internet connection.
- It might sound obvious, but don’t multi-task, fidget or get distracted, give the interviewer / interviewee your full attention.
Interviewees - What if it is a Pre-Recorded interview?
These are gradually becoming more common due to convenience and is where you will connect to a recording of a person asking the questions, (or even in some cases just questions on a screen) and you will record your answers to the questions for someone to watch later.
Sometimes you may have a time limit for each question, or you may be given the ability to re-record your answer if you aren’t happy with your first answer. It is important for you to find out as much about the process as you can before you do the call, so you aren’t taken by surprise.
Treat it exactly like a normal video interview and my previous comments around eye contact and good posture still apply. Whilst it may seem very unnatural, embrace it and treat it just like you are speaking to a real person (you are, they will just be watching it later!).
If things go wrong!!
- Make sure you have a back-up plan if the technology fails. Have a number for the interviewer / interviewee and they have one for you, so you can always revert to a phone call if needed.
- Know how to put the call on mute if you need to excuse yourself for any reason.
- If something unexpected happens during the call (such as someone charging into the room), smile, stay professional and take it in your stride – if you have to deal with an emergency or just an inconvenience, how you deal with it will show your potential employer / employee how you are likely to operate under pressure.
Bjorn Jones, Director of Blusource Finance & HR