More and more recruiters are switching to video interviewing for many reasons. Meanwhile most job seekers have never had an interview online before and don’t know what to do. Maybe you’re in that boat. If you have an interview coming up and don’t know any rules for interviewing online, don’t fret. Job Searcher is here to the rescue. We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to video interviewing skills for your job search. Be sure to read the bonus tip at the end!
Why Have Video Interviews Become so Popular?
We might think we know the reason video interviews are becoming so popular—it’s the pandemic, right? Not necessarily. While the pandemic may have spurred more people to try video interviewing, many companies are finding that a video interview has a number of advantages that are so great that they never expect to abandon the practice, pandemic or not.
A video interview is easier and cheaper than an in-person interview. It’s much easier to set up a dozen video interviews in a row. They can move from one to the next quickly and efficiently rather than going through the entire process of having an interviewee arrive at the front desk, get a name tag, wait for their turn, be taken through a tour of the office, and finally enter the interview area. Having the interview online cuts out all of the pretext and allows you to dive right in to the meat of the conversation.
A video interview is also seen as more fair and equitable because all that is needed is an internet connection. An interviewee could login to the interview from a university study room or a library carrel, enabling them to interview when they might not have been able to in person.
Video interviews also put both the interviewer and the interviewee at ease because they’re both in comfortable environments. You don’t have the intimidation factor of sitting across from an executive at their big desk. You’re both just looking at each other on a screen from the comfort of your own home.
Live vs. Pre-Recorded Video Interviews
There are two different kinds of videos: live and pre-recorded. Most job interviews that you’ll come across are going to be live with immediate back and forth interactions. However, some jobs, and even some colleges, lean toward pre-recorded videos of candidates answering questions.
Sometimes the questions arrive well in advance, and the candidate has the chance to go over the questions and prepare themselves to make what amounts to a video essay of themselves answering. But some software enables questions to be asked and recorded on a timed basis, where a question appears on screen and the interviewee has a certain number of minutes to answer the question.
While all types of video interviews are gaining popularity, many candidates still don’t like them because it can be awkward and performative, but if you’re getting ready for a pre-recorded interview, it is important to prepare as much as possible so you can be polished and at-ease.
How do you Prepare for a Video Interview?
So you’ve been contacted by a company you love, and they’ve scheduled a video interview for you. What do you do now? What are the protocols for a video interview and what do you need to know and do to get through it? Here are 5 tips to help you successfully prepare.
1. Set Up and Equipment
First things first, you need to make sure that you have all of your equipment ready, prepared and, most importantly, tested beforehand. This includes your webcam and your microphone. Although an external webcam will give you optimal performance, a decent built-in webcam in your laptop should be fine. You should do your best to avoid taking the interview on a tablet or a cellphone, as these don’t put you in the best position to see and be seen, and it can look amatuer.
Likewise, you want your camera to be at eye level or higher, never pointing up at you (this can be the problem with taking interviews on your cellphone). No interviewer wants to look up your nose.
Also take into account the lighting. Having a good light on your face and body is important because so much is conveyed through facial expression and body language.
2. Setting the Scene
Even though you’re interviewing from home, you don’t want it to look like you’re just in your kitchen or your bedroom. You want the background of the scene to look as good as possible. Many people like to position themselves in front of bookshelves, as that gives off a signal that they’re intelligent and well read, but any organized and clean background will do.
If you don’t have a good room or location for your interview backdrop, you can try using a filter or a virtual backdrop. Some technologies are better than others, but they’re so commonplace that they’re well accepted by most people. Make sure whatever background you use is professional. A landscape or a piece of art may be good, but a jokey meme or cartoon might not be.
3. Test and Retest
If you’re using a software that is unknown to you, make sure you download it well beforehand and make sure that it will run on your computer. Test your camera, microphone, background, and your internet connection. Anything that can go wrong on the technical side should be tested before you go into your interview.
Also, before the interview begins, communicate with the interviewer about a phone number they can be reached on if there is a technical problem. Hopefully you won’t have to use it, but it can be a lifesaver if you have a power outage during an interview.
4. Prevent All Distractions
Tell everyone in your home that you’re interviewing, and make sure they give you time and privacy. If necessary put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door to your room. Turn off your phone so it won’t interrupt, and close all the programs on your computer so messages won’t pop up on the screen during the interview—especially if part of the interview involves you sharing your screen.
Make sure your pets are either outside or being cared for by someone else so you don’t have a barking dog during the interview.
5. What to wear
Dress exactly as you would if the interview were being held in person. And, as much as it may pain you to hear it, it’s good for your psychology to wear nice clothes from head to toe, even if the interviewer may never see your sweatpants. Being in a professional frame of mind is essential to giving a good interview.
How to Perform in a Live Video Interview?
Performing in a live interview is a little different from how you would perform in an in-person interview. Many of the rules that you learned about interviewing, from shaking hands to leaning forward in your chair, may not apply online. Here are 4 performance tips to practice so you can come across as being knowledgeable and professional.
1. Body Language
Try to keep the fidgeting to a minimum, as it’s very noticeable onscreen. Don’t play with things in your hands or twist your hair around your finger. Fidgeting is a sign of nervousness, and you want to show confidence.
Rather than leaning forward in an interview, as you might do in person, try to have good posture. Don’t slump, slouch, or lounge back in your chair. Good posture makes you seem attentive and respectful.
2. Make Sure you are Clear and Understood
You’re speaking into a microphone, and you want to be clearly understood. So speak as clearly as you can, enunciate your words properly, and speak slowly. When we’re nervous our voices tend to speed up, and you want to sound natural. To you it may sound like you’re going onerously slow, but it probably sounds about normal to the person you’re interviewing with.
3. Follow Standard Interviewing Recommendations
Everything that you learned about proper interviewing techniques still apply in video interviews. So when you talk about your successes, remember to tell stories. Lay out the problem, the objective, the solution, and the outcome. When you’re asked to talk about your biggest weakness don’t say “I’m a perfectionist’. You know: interview the right way, the way that you’ve been taught.
4. Be Your Best Self
You should always strive to be yourself in interviews, but be the best version of yourself. If you’re funny, be funny, but don’t be unprofessional. If you’re introverted, it’s okay to be introverted, but show that you’re still capable of being a good team member who can get the job done. Your personality is going to make a big impression on the interviewer; just don’t let your bad habits overshadow it.
Bonus Tip: What Happens if Something Goes Wrong
As mentioned above, make sure that you have the interviewer’s phone number (and that they have yours) in case any technical problems happen. Don’t panic if the connection is bad, or if there’s latency. These things are to be expected in video interviews. You and your interviewer should both be prepared to deal with them if they happen.
If there’s an interruption, try to handle it with grace and poise. If your child runs in the room crying remember that you’re still on camera. Don’t scold and get angry. Just take care of the problem and try to move along. An interviewer doesn’t want to see a candidate yelling at their children.
Ultimately, make sure that you are prepared for a video interview by testing all the equipment and technology beforehand, and you are prepared for any glitches. Make sure you are professional both in your demeanor and dress, but also in the background you use and the lack of distractions. And remember, if something goes wrong, don’t freak out. Just connect with the interviewer by phone and get things sorted out.