If you’re applying for a role during the Coronavirus outbreak, it is highly likely that you will have to face a video interview as part of the recruitment process.
Video interviews are becoming increasingly commonplace, even in normal circumstances, especially in the initial stages of the recruitment process. Some may be very brief and informal, whilst others can be highly structured to reflect the competencies the employer is seeking for a particular job. Be aware, this isn’t just about convenience for you and the company, nor should it lead to low-quality interviews. Hiring managers may record interviews and share these with their colleagues, to allow them to observe the interview rather than making any decisions based on traditional notes.
There are other challenges with this format – not least with time delays and connectivity problems. Very few of us perform naturally in front of a camera and this will naturally place some candidates at a disadvantage. However, with some preparation, these concerns can be swept aside and propel you towards the next stage of the process.
What’s the format?
In advance of the event, it’s fundamentally important to know in which format the video interview will take. There are typically two types you will encounter and both offer a completely different experience from each other.
Live Video – offers a similar experience to a regular face-to-face interview. You will ‘meet’ the interviewer (or a panel) online, typically through a dedicated platform like Microsoft Teams, Skype or dedicated Video Interview technology such as Insight by Ashley Kate HR & Finance. Employers can interview candidates no matter where in the world they are – as long as they have access to the internet. Live videos enable them to replicate the traditional interview format without requiring the candidate to travel to their office. Business attire should be worn and will be expected in most circumstances.
Pre-recorded – on the plus side, this format provides allow to complete the interview at a time of your choosing up to a set deadline, however, this is a much less personal experience as you won’t be speaking to a real person. You may be provided with pre-recorded or even written questions on screen, which might seem like a PowerPoint slide deck. After each question, you will be required to record your answer on video, often to a time limit. Some formats may allow you to rerecord your answers if you make a mistake. Many do not. That’s why practice and preparation are even more important.
1 Choose your location carefully
Use a quiet location, where you won’t be disturbed by noises and people. Make sure the room you choose is tidy and that your background is plain and uncluttered so that the interviewer can focus on you and not your environment.
You want to be seen in your best light – and that means good lighting too. Try to use natural light from a window or if necessary, place a lamp nearby and adjust the distance to avoid shadows and get the best result.
Avoid distractions. Close any software on your computer, turn off notifications and switch off your mobile. Also, let everyone in the house know you’re about to start the interview so they don’t interrupt. You could even stick a note on your door!
2 Dress to impress
You should wear the same attire you would have chosen for a face-to-face meeting with the employer. Think about how your clothes will look on screen and avoid busy patterns and stripes.
3 Use positive body language
Eye contact is very important during an in-person interview, and you want to convey that same level of connection during a video interview. Avoid the instinct to look directly at your interviewer on the screen while you’re answering a question. Instead, you want to direct your gaze at the webcam. When you do this, your eyes are more likely to align with the interviewer’s eyes on the other end. When you’re listening, you can look back at the screen.
Throughout the interview, keep your mood upbeat and convey optimism with your body language. One way to achieve this is to have good posture. Sit in your chair with your back straight and your shoulders open. Feet can be planted on the floor and arms can rest in your lap or on the desk.
When you’re listening, nod and smile when appropriate to communicate that you’re giving them your full attention. Use hand gestures when it feels appropriate and keep your movements close to your body. Avoid fidgeting or letting your gaze drift away from the device.
4 Practice makes perfect
Having a video interview trial run is not only important for assessing your body language and practising your answers, but also to test your equipment. Check the best angle for your webcam, the best height of your chair, and the speed of your connection.
5 On the day of the video interview
If you’re using a laptop or tablet, make sure it’s fully charged on the day of the interview. And pick a spot that has strong Wi-Fi. If you’re using a tablet, find a way to keep it stationary. Otherwise, the screen may appear shaky if you’re holding the device. Avoid using a smartphone for video interviews if possible
If there are any technical hitches, for example, if you can’t hear the questions very well, don’t struggle through as you won’t put in your best performance. If it’s a live video interview, mention the problem. It may easily be fixed, or the interviewer may be happy to end the call and redial.
For pre-recorded video interviews, check beforehand whether you’re allowed to stop and restart in case of technical issues.
Finally, don’t forget to smile, you are on camera after all! Good Luck