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Over recent years, video interviews have been a growing trend for recruiters looking to streamline the selection process, maximise innovation and influence hiring managers. Fast forward to 2020 and we have found ourselves in a situation where video interviews are a necessity rather than an option, as most employers make the temporary yet immediate switch to remote working and social distancing.
If you are seeking a new role during the COVID-19 pandemic, expect to be asked to attend a video interview, which could be either pre-recorded or live. Whether it is a screening call with a recruiter or a formal stage with the hiring manager, optimise your chances of success in live video interviews with these tips by ensuring the video interview is an opportunity, not a barrier, to your success.
Before the Interview
Know Your Tech
Just as you would plan your journey to a face-to-face interview, prepare ahead for when you need to connect to your video interview. Check the platform that you will be using (this will be in the URL) and whether you need to download software, register, or simply join online at the time. Know what you need to do to be visible (webcam) and heard (mic check), what you will use(avoid phones and remember a charger) and how long it will take you. This will help you to log in to the interview stress-free.
Be Video Ready
If you are not used to seeing yourself on video, recording yourself answering interview questions will be (awkward at first, but…) great preparation for the real event. You could also have video chats with friends and family to get used to the format and potentially the same platform.
As far as you will be visible (at least!), dress for your interview. First impressions count and even though you might be sitting in your bedroom, show that you have made an effort for the interview and want the job. Over video, simple is often best so avoid anything too distracting if possible.
Find a Quiet Place
This might be a challenge during social distancing, especially if you are juggling work, home-schooling and caring, but prepare everyone in your household about your need to have a quiet space for the duration of the interview. Pets included. Also, be prepared for how you might react if you are distracted. Remember, we are all human (and in this together!).
A successful video interview will heavily depend on the connections of every participant. To ensure yours is as smooth as possible, run a connection test beforehand, position yourself in a strong signal spot and ensure there is nothing interrupting your signal at the time of your interview.
Check Your Background
Your laundry hanging out to dry in the background is a big no for video interviews. Plan your position in advance, check your camera angle in your camera app and if possible, ensure that you have a simple background with minimal distractions. Remember that it is you being interviewed, not your home or place of self-isolation.
During the Interview
Smile, Breathe and Relax
Being in your home environment should enable you to feel more relaxed and more yourself. Take time to relax before you start the interview. It can help not having to rush to a new place and new surroundings, so make the most of being in the comfort of your own home. Before you connect to the video interview, take a deep breath and as you breathe out, smile. Be you and the rest will follow.
Turn off your phone, laptop notifications, and any background music or TV distractions. If your focus is not on your interview, not only will your interviewer notice, but you will not be able to provide your best responses to the questions you’re asked.
A paper and pen may help, so you can dedicate your screen to your interviewer, but take digital notes if this works best for you. Remember to ask questions: you need to find out if this is the role and company for you, as much as the interviewer is doing the same.
Be Natural, Be You
Not everyone is comfortable in front of the camera, but the sooner you forget that you are in front of one, the more comfortable you will be. Resist the temptation to look at yourself (which may lead you to focus on flaws or lose track) and instead focus on your interviewer(s). Remember you are having a discussion, so the normal expectations around being relaxed and using your body language still apply.
Be Aware of Your Body Language
Good eye contact, nods and an optimum seating position become even more important in a video setting. Show that you are listening and engaged, but don’t stare out your interviewer. Good eye contact involves taking a break, looking away and reconnecting. It’s not something to overthink, but allow yourself to be interested and your body will do the rest.
In summary, be as prepared as you would for a face-to-face interview, use the opportunity to show how can you adapt, effectively communicate over video and be comfortable in your own skin. As employers are forced to experiment with new ways of working, it is likely that we will see a significant increase in video interviews following the COVID-19 outbreak compared to their usage before. The same can be said for video-based one-to-one and team meetings, so allow yourself to adapt to the change now so you can focus your career goals on what matters to you.