Video calls have become an increasingly common part of all our lives. Catching up with friends abroad, talking to clients at the other end of the country or even consulting with your GP remotely, Skype, Teams and Zoom calls are the new normal. It is not surprising that the use of remote video calls for job interviews is also rapidly growing.
Whilst many employees are familiar with a traditional face-to face or panel interview, they may have less experience of this newer format. Many things, such as the need to prepare, have questions ready and examples of your previous work, are exactly the same, but not everything is. In talking to both employers and employees alike, Intaso have compiled our top-ten list of video job interview musts. We hope you find them useful.
Yes, the old adage of ‘Perfect Preparation Prevents Poor Performance’ is especially true for a video interview. It can be harder to judge an interviewer’s body language and to get your sparkling personality across, so you will need to put extra focus on preparation. Research the company, look up the interviewers on LinkedIn, and have a list of questions ready. Preparation may not be new, but it is crucial to interview success.
2. Know your technology
The time to understand how Microsoft Teams works, or any other platform, is not ten minutes before your big call. Test your connection and equipment before the scheduled time. Is the software updated to the latest version? Have you got sufficient Internet bandwidth? Does your webcam make you look like a sunburnt melon and your microphone sound like a Dalek? If you are using a battery powered device (and we suggest you don’t!) is it fully charged?
This is really important if you are applying for a role related to IT, and you would be amazed how often people fall foul of these simple mistakes.
3. Use your webcam to your advantage
Trust us, no one (apart from maybe your doctor) wants to be staring at the inside of your nose or the top of your head. Set up the webcam image so that you are positioned in the centre of the screen, with clear space above your head. Don’t sit too close to the screen. The camera should be at eye level, and central, even if this means mounting it so it obscures a small part of the screen. If using a laptop, you may need to raise the height and adjust the angle of the screen, to get the best picture.
Check lighting too, to ensure your image is clear. If wearing glasses, try to minimise reflected screen glare. Auto Exposure settings can be a problem, so play around with additional lighting in the room until you get the best image.
4. Make sure your surroundings are appropriate
In the same way that how you dress matters, your surroundings can make a big difference too. There is no problem with hosting the call from your kitchen, but perhaps not with a stack of dirty pots and pans in the background. That poster you’ve had since you were a student, perhaps best keep it out of shot.
The ideal surroundings are plain, clean, and unnoteworthy. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to use a virtual background, they are not big or clever anymore and might make people question what you are hiding. You want the interviewer to focus on you and what you are saying, and not be distracted by what’s going on around you.
5. Minimise interruptions
On a similar theme, take care to minimise disruptions. Children, cats, and cute dogs are all sources of amusement on Instagram, less so when you are trying to land a job. Let other people in the house know you are on an important call and ask them (nicely) to be quiet and stay away.
One area that people often forget is external noise. Closing windows and perhaps curtains too, will help minimise the impact of building work, emergency vehicles and your neighbour helpfully mowing the lawn.
6. Have a back-up plan
Technology fails all the time, don’t give it a chance to ruin your interview. Have a back-up plan, even if only the mobile phone number of the person hosting the interview. You probably won’t need it, but if you do, the fact you were prepared and didn’t panic, can only work in your favour.
7. Dress for success
Just because you are sitting in your lounge, you still need to dress as though you were in the interviewer’s office. There are lots of myths about people only wearing the top half of their business attire, with pyjamas and slippers ‘below the video line’. Don’t do it! Wearing the appropriate clothes will help put you in the right mental place to make the most of the interview opportunity. Choose your outfit a day in advance, so you can ensure it’s clean and wrinkle free. One less thing to worry about. Oh, if wearing anything patterned, check that it does not become a distracting and unstable image when rendered by your webcam.
8. Use positive body language
In the same way you would look into the eyes of your face-to-face interviewer, take time to look into the webcam. Nod and smile as appropriate. If your interview has multiple interviewers, make sure you know their names (write it down, see the next tip) and use their names when answering. It shows you are attentive and care about the people and the job.
9. Have a pen and paper ready
As in a face-to face interview, you may need to make notes. Having to search for a pen and paper makes you look unprepared. You may wish to have a few prepared notes too, but avoid constantly looking down when referring to them. Strategically placed Post-It notes can help, but only two or three. If you need to refer to some details from a previous project, for example, say so. Saying “Just let me check those details for you from the project plan” is a perfectly acceptable and indeed professional thing to do.
10. Have a practice interview
A dry run of the interview is a really useful thing to do. Wearing your interview outfit and with the room set up as you want it, practice looking into the webcam and smiling! Use the software’s audio testing facility to check your microphone. Double check you are speaking slowly and clearly. Is the webcam focused on you and at eye-level? How does your spotted tie look on-screen? Are those ear-rings distracting? Ideally, have a practice call, using the same software, with a friend on the other end, and get some useful feedback on how they perceived you on video. Listen to their feedback and make appropriate changes. They want you to succeed too.
Video interviews are not new and are here to stay. With the right preparation, you can ensure the best version of you comes across to the interviewers, giving you the best chance of landing the job. We at Intaso wish you luck for your interview and hope these tips have helped!