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Acing your next video interview


Video job interviews are fast becoming a significant part of the hiring process. Initially a necessary change due to the global pandemic, they have quickly become part of our new normal.

Initially, it felt a little unnatural, but the benefits are becoming clear. Businesses – and candidates – are saving both time and money, but it also gives interviewers a chance to filter through more candidates, evaluating them based on their abilities, not just resume.

So, as the job market is becoming more and more competitive, it is crucial to adapt to this change and be prepared for the different forms your video interview may take.

Location, location, location (and technology)

You might have heard that expression in the past, but the real estate market aside, picking the right interview location, and having the right equipment, can make or break the interview.

The room

Interviews are stressful. Choosing a quiet, private place where you won’t be interrupted by other people, pets or noises will make you more comfortable and focused.

To further improve the quality of your video, find a well-lit spot and use a neutral background that’s free from distractions. That way, it’s all about you.

The technology

Choose appropriate technology and test it a day before and on the day of your interview to avoid surprises. The interviewer will likely determine what video interview software you will use, and with so many out there, it may not be one that you’ve used before.

Ensure that you have a good internet connection, a computer or a laptop with a webcam and headphones with built-in microphone to help you minimise any external noise.

Avoid interrupting conversation or slowing down the internet connection by closing other apps and tabs, and set your phone on silent before you begin. It’s maybe worth asking everyone in your home to turn off their video games or streaming platforms for the duration of your interview.

With technology, there is always a possibility that something will go wrong. Here are some tips for when the unexpected happens.

  • If you test your hardware and decide that it will not be suitable, ask your friend or a family member to lend you the equipment you need.
  • If you are worried that your audio or video will stop working, ask the interviewer for a contact number before starting your interview. That will give you another means of contact should you experience any technical difficulties.
  • If noise interrupts your conversation, apologise and ask for a few moments. You can mute your microphone until the noise has subsided.

Interview types

There are two types of video interview you can expect, live and pre-recorded video.

In a live interview, you will be connected with an interviewer probably on Zoom, GoToMeeting, or Teams. Whatever the platform, make sure that you can easily access it and that your username is professional.

With the pre-recorded video interview, instead of engaging in a conversation with an interviewer, you will be required to follow the employer’s instructions and record your answers, which will be reviewed by the employer at a later date.

Even though a pre-recorded video interview can feel unnatural, it often gives you an opportunity to record your answers more than once. The trick is to act like you’re having a live conversation and make use of all your prepared answers.

Dress code

No matter the interview set up, you should always dress professionally. If you are not sure what to wear, researching the company and the current employees will give you an idea of what is appropriate.

Try to choose neutral, soft colours avoiding strong patterns and bright colours. For example, avoid anything with a stripe as it can often be very distracting and fuzzy on camera. If you wear glasses, try to minimise glare on the lenses by adjusting the lighting in the room while you test your technology.

Despite the interviewer only seeing your upper half, we’d recommend ditching the pyjama bottoms for something a little more professional in case you need to get up. It will also help you get your mind into your professional mode.

Brush up on your video call etiquette

The phrase ‘video call etiquette’ may sound incredibly Victorian. Still, you wouldn’t show up for an in-person meeting without giving thought to the impression you will make. The same applies to video calls.

Maintaining video call etiquette regardless of what happens will allow you to make a great impression during virtual interviews.

While all of this may make sense now, it is very easy to forget video call etiquette once your video interview has started. Keeping it in mind will allow these calls to be as collaborative and effective as possible.

Body language

One of the most important elements of good body language is eye contact.

Try to convey the same level of connection during your video interview as you would in person. You can do that by directing your gaze at the webcam when you speak and only look at the screen when the interviewer is speaking.

When you’re listening, make sure you are nodding and smiling. You can even make small noises, like humming or uh-huh, while you do so. That will show the interviewer that you’re giving them your full attention. But avoid accidentally cutting out their sound by making a loud noise.

Try to maintain a good posture throughout the interview, sit in your chair with your back straight and shoulders open. Remember to maintain an upbeat mood and convey optimism with your body language.

Don’t sit so still that you have eliminated all your body movement. We take a lot of our visual cues from the natural gestures people make in conversation. Sitting as if carved by stone in a video interview can be disconcerting.

Practice makes perfect

Practice can make all the difference in your interviews.

Before your meeting, get used to the video set up. Schedule trial interviews with your friends and family and practice until you feel natural in that setting and ask them for their honest feedback.

Then practice some more.

Your video interview checklist

You cannot control how an interview will go, but you can control how prepared you are. Run through this checklist 30 minutes before your video interview is scheduled to start to make sure you are fully prepared.

  1. Choose your location
  2. Make sure you won’t be interrupted (communicate when and where your interview will take place, put a note up on the door)
  3. Clear your space leaving only a notepad, copy of your resume, any relevant notes and a pen
  4. Brush up on your video call etiquette
  5. Ensure the video interview software is connecting properly
  6. Test your webcam and microphone
  7. Close other unnecessary tabs and windows on your computer
  8. Check your internet connection
  9. Set your phone to silent
  10. Check the background behind you and the room set up
  11. Check the lighting in the room
  12. Just as in real life, log into the call 5 minutes before the video interview is scheduled to start

Now relax, be yourself, and navigate your video interview with ease. You’ve got this!

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