We may be living in uncertain times, but many companies are still hiring. So, your CV has caught someone’s eye? Excellent. You have an interview lined up? Even better, but the catch is that you are not being invited into an office, instead you will be having a virtual interview and meet the interviewer or hiring manager through a computer screen.
Whether you are interviewing via Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, or a specialised platform such as Odro, you will find that the process is both familiar and quite different at the same time. While you may know the basics, it never hurts to up your game, so we put together some tips (and tricks) to make sure you nail your next video interview.
Put your best (dressed) foot forward
Just because it is a video interview does not mean you can skimp on effort for your appearance, as 90% of the cues we give are non-verbal it is important that you look professional. A good rule of thumb is to dress one rung above the company’s dress code; if the company leans towards smart-casual then consider slipping on a tie or jacket. Another trick is to wear your work shoes during the video call, and while this might seem odd or unnecessary, it does help you get into a work-ready frame of mind.
Make sure your hair is neat and combed, and men, if you are sporting a beard – ensure it is neat and trimmed. As it is only your upper body that is showing some people might consider wearing a formal top with their PJ bottoms – but remember something can go wrong and you may have to get up to adjust your computer or stop to pick up a child or animal that suddenly runs into the room.
Also, make sure you wear a solid colour as stripes and patterns tend to show up poorly on camera.
Create a peaceful and professional environment
When you have an in-person interview, the organisation and the interviewer often dictate the physical setting, but for a remote interview the ball is in your court to create a good impression with your physical environment.
Ensure that the room is neat and tidy and if possible, choose a room with a door that you can close to shut off any outside noise. Additionally, make sure the only window open on your desktop is the video platform you are using, and put your phone on silent to avoid any distractions.
On that note (and there is no nice way to say this) you need to banish your children, pets, house mates and other people in your home from your interview space. A good rule of thumb is if you would not bring them along to an in-person interview, then they should not make a cameo appearance in a video interview.
Keep your eyes on the prize, and a smile on your dial
It can take a bit of practice and may feel a bit silly, but during the interview you should direct your gaze at the camera, not the image of your interviewer on the screen. Be mindful that if you look around away from the camera, or stare into space for too long, it can look as though you are not engaged. Essentially, looking at the camera is the closest you are going to get to making eye contact with the interviewer. It is also a good idea to elevate your laptop or phone to eye level by stacking boxes or books underneath it so that you can look directly into the camera without craning your neck or slouching.
It is harder to smile when you are not in a face-to-face meeting, but keep in mind that a smile puts people at ease and helps to make a good impression.
Get familiar with the tech
Cut down on technical difficulties by testing out your set-up ahead of time, using the same platform, internet connection, and hardware you will be using for your interview. If you do not already have an account with the platform your interviewer is using, then create one and download the required software. It may also be a good idea to install a standby copy on another device if you have one (for instance on both your laptop and tablet or phone) just in case you have an issue with your primary device.
Enlist a friend or family member to help you do a test run through to make sure the video and audio are working, and to give you a chance to figure out the best lighting. Take time to get familiar with the software and make sure you know the basics, particularly how to answer the call and how to mute and unmute yourself. Additionally, some video platforms let you record your interview so afterwards you can go back and identify any elements you may need to work on.
Of course, tech issues happen – so try not to get flustered or angry – just stay calm and hang up and then try to reconnect again. Also, draw attention to a tech problem immediately, you do not want to answer a question that you couldn’t really hear and it shows that you address problems as they arise – a trait that employer’s value.
Remember, interviews are a conversation, not an interrogation
This is vital for any interview, but it is particularly vital to treat your remote interview like a conversation because it is the only way that you will be able to connect with your interviewer. In a physical interview you have the opportunity to make small talk before and after the interview, but in a remote interview it is up to you to ensure that you build rapport. Be yourself and try to be personable, you want to communicate as if you are talking to someone that you know well, while remaining professional.
Remember that you also hold the reigns in an interview, so it is also your responsibility to direct the flow away from ‘question: answer: question: answer’. When the interviewer comments or responds to your answers, feel free to add anything additional that you would like to say. Also, feel free to ask questions during the interview where appropriate instead of waiting until the end. You want your interviewer to view you as someone that they can have a conversation with, not just the recipient of their list of questions.
For more helpful advice and tips on job hunting, writing a CV and other interview insights, check out more of our blogs.