10 Ways to Shine in a Video Job Interview
10 Ways to Shine in a Video Job Interview
The global pandemic has caused a necessary and almost immediate digital transformation across many sectors. This has resulted in 86% of job interviews now being conducted by video, according to Gartner. Throughout lockdown many organizations continued to recruit and onboard new staff completely online; some new hires have started work for their new company, never having physically met their line manager, colleagues, peers or even been in to the head office. However, many managers have adapted well to managing remote teams and are regularly conducting online interviews.
During Career Transition and Outplacement Coaching I am spending many hours every week preparing candidates for their virtual job interviews via a video call. Here are some of the pitfalls to avoid and tools and tips to embrace when your job search has finally got you that one crucial interview:
1. Have a suitable background to your call: Even though lockdown has given us a snapshot of people’s lounges/kitchens/dining rooms/man caves and their taste in home furnishings and artwork, it’s still important to ensure that you present a professional background to your video interview. Even if your desk, laptop or tablet are wedged in to a corner of your bedroom or kitchen, try to clear the surfaces of any inappropriate items, whilst still demonstrating your unique personality!
2. Wear appropriate attire: When most office workers started to work from home in March this year, many abandoned their work clothes and donned hoodies, T-shirts and shorts. Veteran home workers know the importance of ensuring what you wear below the desk matches the style of what is on show above. Just in case the doorbell rings or you have to deal with a stray pet/child/partner/insect crashing your interview, make sure you have on a professional bottom half and shoes that match your work attire! We’ve all seen the TV presenter who was caught out by just wearing a professional top half above just their underwear!
3. Manage Distractions: Again, we’ve been party to TV presenters and industry experts being disrupted on TV by their pets, partners or children. If you can, warn all your housemates that you need peace and quiet for 15 minutes before your interview so you can ground yourself, and 30 minutes after, just in case the video call overruns. Try to avoid having the weekly online shop arrive mid-interview, or Amazon delivering your new yoga mat or garden shed! After many years of interviewing executives across the globe over video calls, the most common disruption tends to be from the candidates’ cats or dogs, which provides entertainment for the interviewer, but can sometimes distract the candidate too much.
4. Research the company: A common interview question can be ‘what do you know about our organization/culture/key challenges?’ Being interviewed virtually means you can’t arrive at the head office half an hour early to read through the annual report or press cuttings in a glossy binder at reception. So, get Googling the company and think about the questions you will likely be asked about the role, then ask your housemate or partner to practice them with you in a mock interview.
5. Prepare, prepare, prepare again! Preparing for an online interview is key. If you’ve been sent a link in the invitation email, make sure you can access the platform the recruiter will be using, whether it is MS Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts. Also, ensure your internet connection and broadband are working well. As most office workers look set to continue to work remotely for some time, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re all set up to do so. Practice the interview by recording it and playing it back; you’ll be surprised at how many gestures you make! Correct these by sitting up straight, possibly holding a pen in one hand and having a notebook at the ready to jot down anything important.
6. Watch your Body Language: According to studies by Dr Mehrabian 93% of communication is non-verbal. During video calls candidates will often start to relax in to an interview whilst sitting at home and their body language may portray how they are really feeling. Who hasn’t been on a team MS Teams meeting and seen their colleagues or peers yawning, stretching, checking their mobile phone, and - most commonly with women – playing with their hair! I have seen candidates deselect themselves just by slouching forward and putting their heads in their hands when asked a probing question about a certain challenging aspect of their role, thus demonstrating that their heart really isn’t in it. So, check your body language, posture and hand gestures; practice this in your mock interviews.
7. Speak slower and more clearly than normal: As well as avoiding any non-verbal communication, such as tutting or eye rolling, it’s important to speak slightly slower and more clearly than you would do in a face to face meeting; there can be a ‘satellite delay’ online and there is usually some background noise, whether that’s the neighbour doing some DIY, mowing or strimming the lawn, or general traffic noise.
8. If you’ve been made redundant from your previous job: You may be reluctant to advise that you’ve been let go by your previous employer, but sadly this is common place in the current climate. It’s best to be honest regarding the reasons for you seeking new employment; again, practice the narrative as to why you are looking for work and, even though it is devastating, try not to complain about your situation or the general negative impact of Covid-19.
9. Make your responses relevant and succinct: Anyone working remotely will understand the feeling of ‘screen fatigue’ after spending most of the day on video calls. Job interviews held remotely may be slightly shorter than a traditional face to face interview, so make sure you give succinct answers and stick to one or two brief examples of how you can demonstrate the skills, experience and competencies required for the role.
10. Finally, as the future of work has changed dramatically since the onset of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, organizations are looking for staff who are self-motivated, self-sufficient and IT literate to be able to cope with ongoing remote working, as well as being collaborative, resilient and highly adaptable to change. So, highlight how you have demonstrated these skills and qualities in previous roles.
Good luck and stay safe!
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