The last few years have brought about a plethora of changes, some more drastic than others. Rightfully so! A worldwide pandemic shutting life into a mobile box required a plethora of adjusting and adapting. Though we picked up a few techniques to help us during the lockdown, some are working their way into the normal lexicon of the working world. The video interview, something picked up during the boost of at-home work in 2020, looks like it’s here to stay.
A 2021 joint study by StandOut CV and JD-Library found that over 60% of employers stated they plan on keeping video interviews after the lockdown. Granted, that was two years ago, but the truth still stands. Video interviews have become the new norm. As a staffing agency, we conduct video interviews every single day.
The implementation makes sense. Why drive all over to sit down for a few minutes? Video interviews can be done quickly, allowing for both the employer and candidate to continue their day without too many disruptions. Time is money, after all.
Regardless, arguing the semantics of a video interview isn’t the point. As a recruitment agency, we are here to help you get used to the new concept, as it has proven to be difficult for most. According to internal research, around 60% of those that have conducted a video interview or video meeting have found themselves more self-conscious while on camera. If you are more self-conscious, you are more likely to fumble or mess up your interview tactics. Therefore, it’s crucial to become confident and comfortable on camera for those that are job searching. We all can’t be video stars.
Therefore, we are giving out our best tips for video-specific interviews (for free).
Let’s break it all down!
- Technology Checks
- Choose a Good Location
- Before the Video Interview
- During the Video Interview
- Closing the Video Interview
The unfortunate thing about the video interview is that you… Well… Need to have the technology to complete it. Even if you aren’t interviewing for a high-tech gig, you still need to have a high-tech setup to help you get the job.
Make sure you have the right setup and up-to-date equipment. As shallow as it may seem, a company may quickly disqualify you if you can’t complete a video interview correctly.
No doubt, many of us have multiple devices to choose from when participating in video interviews. Devices can include computers, tablets, and phones. Choose the device that is the most modern and works best with the video conferencing platform. More often than not, a computer or laptop will be your best choice due to the stationary aspect. You don’t want to be holding your phone in your hand like you are taking a selfie during a professional interview.
It’s not a deal breaker, but it looks a bit less professional.
Although most will defer to a portable device, it’s recommended to use a device that can connect via direct wire such as cat-5. By doing so, you will ensure you have solid internet connectivity at all times. The last thing you want during a video interview is a poor internet connection.
The fact is, almost everyone has a broadband internet connection. However, be mindful of how you connect and how many other people are using the bandwidth.
How far is the Wifi router from your device? Have you had intermittent WiFi connections in the past? Most importantly, identify the locations of the house that have the strongest signals. If you decide to use WiFi, make sure you reserve this room as your interview location.
Finally, ask everyone in the house to limit internet usage during the interview so you have most of the bandwidth.
If, for some reason, you do not have an internet connection at home (or don’t have a reliable one), pick a place that you know contains strong internet. This place may be a local coffee shop or a friend’s house. Just make sure it’s reliable and quiet.
Simply put, don’t get caught with spotty WiFi or no internet at all. Not only does this cause you to reschedule the interview, but it makes you look unprepared and wastes the company’s time. No good.
Audio and Video
It’s an absolute must that you check the audio and the video of your preferred device. If it’s a computer, make sure the latest drivers are installed and have a test run to ensure everything works fine.
Luckily, most video applications (like Zoom and Skype) will have a testing screen before you take a call. This option will allow you to make sure both your video and audio are working before moving into the interview.
If you are planning on using a mobile device, make sure you close all your apps and use a headset to test the device.
Finally, ensure that the video is working properly and the audio is clear and crisp.
Test the Software Platform
Above all, make sure to test and verify that all functions of the software work on your chosen device. Furthermore, it is a great idea to test out the platform with a friend or family member, especially if you have never used it before.
If you are new to the entirety of video calling applications, give it a trial run before the interview day. Just make sure you know how everything operates. Waiting till before the interview may be too late. Don’t get blindsided by unforeseen issues.
Fully Charge Your Device
Do not be the person that has their phone or laptop die in the middle of an interview!
If you decide on a wireless device (laptop or phone), make sure the device is 100% charged. Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to completely reboot your system 20 minutes before the interview.
After the reboot, don’t open any applications or programs. Keep everything clean and simple before loading up the video application.
Use a Headset
It is strongly recommended to use a headset for clear and quality audio. Some may think wearing a headset takes away from the professional appearance. On contrary, video conference members today are expected to have a headset to ensure proper quality.
On the other hand, if you have a professional microphone that can capture exceptional voice quality, then use it. In most cases, people don’t have professional microphones and it’s not recommended to use the “speakerphone” function of the device.
In summary, you want your voice to be crisp and clear. A headset will take care of this. If you don’t use a headset, your internal microphone may pickup the sound of the speakers, creating an audio loop. This would be a nightmare for both you and the employer. Don’t be unprepared.
Plenty of Lighting
Whether the lighting is natural or indoor lighting, make sure there is plenty of it. Certainly, first impressions can make or break the interview. Therefore, don’t diminish the first impression with dim lighting.
Subsequently, lighting does a lot to set the professional tone in an interview. Therefore, make sure to have a light close by with a bright LED.
Being in the dark is not only unprofessional, but it’s also weird.
Center the Camera (don’t hold mobile devices)
If you decide to use a mobile device, make sure to set it on the table properly. As we stated, holding the phone as if you are taking a selfie will make you look unprofessional and unprepared. You want to be able to take notes and move on your own.
Furthermore, ensure the camera appropriately captures you from the chest and above. The key here is to make sure your face is in the center of the picture. Look professional and prepared, after all.
Choose a Good Location
Above all, make sure the background looks very professional and not messy. Visit all of the possible rooms and look at each wall. Find one that looks neutral and professional. You’ll know when you see it. Desks and offices are perfect, of course. You want to look like you have done this before.
Next, ensure there’s plenty of lighting as we discussed.
Furthermore, this place should have absolutely no interruptions from others. No kids, no pets, no distractions at all.
Finally, the Internet connection in this location should be very strong and consistent.
Before the Video Interview
You’ve made sure that everything regarding the technical and physical side of the video interview is ready. Now, it’s time to nail the actual interview. Welcome to the big show!
Mentally, focus on the interview and be relaxed. You should be in your ideal location one hour before the video interview. We understand that it can be impossible to calm your nerves, and that’s okay. The best way to improve your anxiety is to be prepared (and reading this is a form of preparing. Good job).
If you have practiced, reviewed your information, and researched the company you are interviewing for, you are likely to feel a bit less stressed when approaching the actual interview.
Take a deep breath. Let’s do this.
Video interviews are just like in-person interviews. Therefore, approach video interviews just as seriously. Dress professionally, regardless of the job at hand. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. You want to instill the first impression that you are professional, successful, and take the job seriously. Being underdressed undermines this idea off the bat.
Therefore, our recommendations are to always wear a suit and tie for men and professional business attire for women. If you truly believe a suit is overkill, at least wear a button-up and tie. Don’t go under that.
Review the Job Description and Company
Firstly, researching the company before you interview with them is a no-brainer. You wouldn’t show up to a negotiation without knowing what you’re selling. But researching the job is more than knowing the basics. It is about going full-sleuth (without the trenchcoat and hat, probably).
Whether a temp agency or direct hire business, you should know everything about the company. 47% of recruiters told Twin Employment they would reject a candidate who had little knowledge about their company.
Overall, ask yourself how you can prove you went the extra mile. Try to figure out the company’s culture. Read reviews on job boards by former employees to sense how the business operates. Do they seem artistic and expressive? Do they implement lightheartedness on their website? Are they serious and to the point?
Also, make sure to have a printed copy of the job description handy so you can refer to it for specifics.
Review Your Resume
Interviewers will ask you to expand on parts of your resume. By reviewing your resume, you will be ready to address any questions the interviewers may have. Similarly, have a printed copy of your resume handy as well.
Though it’s your life on the page, an interview can send your head in spirals. It’s your personal experience, but if asked a question offhand, you may forget everything you’ve done. Stumbling through questions about your resume makes you seem like you are dramatizing your work experience. Don’t do that.
Have a Notes Sheet
In addition to the job description and your resume, print a sheet with your notes about the position. By doing so, you can refer to the notes if needed during the interview.
This may include keywords you want to make sure you use, questions about the job, and any other statistics you found during your research. Dropping little info that shows you know the industry or company is a big plus, so keep them near you.
Join the Call 5 Minutes Early
A strong rule of thumb is to have the software platform up and ready, ten minutes before the interview. By doing so, you make sure everything is ready to go and there are no unexpected problems at the last minute.
Start logging in five minutes before the interview. This will ensure you’re on time and proficient. In some cases, other participants will already be in. If that’s the case, this would be a great opportunity to introduce yourself and meet others. Try to have a topic in mind for a basic conversation.
During the Video Interview
Once the interview starts, it’s important to follow a few aspects of professionalism. Ultimately, you are going to be following most of the same tips as a normal, in-person interview. Even though you are remote and over the computer, treat the situation as if you were right there. Those physical tips, though seemingly little, make a huge subconscious difference.
Here are a few important ones to follow during the video interview:
Have Good Posture
Good posture is a show of professionalism and curiosity. During an interview, having a great posture shows others your attention to the conversation.
Keep your back straight and make sure to have a chair that’s both ergonomic and helpful. Being hunched over may make you look like you don’t care about the position (something you never want to do). Furthermore, great posture instills confidence, the main key to winning any job.
Furthermore, do not cross your arms or seem bored.
There are two schools of thought. Some people believe that first impressions don’t exist or are a societal phenomenon. Unfortunately, studies show otherwise. First impressions, though seemingly shallow, are extremely important, especially during job interviews.
Think of it this way: the employer only has the interview to decide between you and an array of other applicants. You want to put your best foot forward emotionally, physically, and mentally. You want to look nice, speak nice, and say nice. It’s that simple.
Maintain Eye Contact
A study by JobSpin found that 67% of recruiters feel that eye contact is crucial to making a good impression.
Look directly into the camera and avoid looking away for long periods. The participants will be looking at you and you want to make a positive impression.
Eye contact is a form of body language that is very important during communication. To clarify, when someone makes eye contact during a conversation, it shows they are focused and paying attention. Furthermore, it shows that the person is confident and truthful. They stand by what they say and have no doubt.
Eye contact is huge for subconscious impressions.
Smiling is another form of physical communication that shows you are a positive person. In general, people feel more welcoming to a person when they are smiling.
When others see you smile, they get a glimpse of your personality. Make sure to smile genuinely and not overdo it.
Have a Pleasant Tone of Voice
The video interview is to get to know you and your personality. Part of that includes the tone of your voice and how pleasant your communication skills are. Always take time to listen to the speaker and don’t interrupt. When it is your time to speak, speak in a pleasant tone with clear and concise responses.
Much like the casual conversation, you do not want to seem like work is the only thing you do. You’re not a robot.
Never has an interviewer said, “That person had no personality, let’s hire them.”
Feel free to show a little charisma. This lets the employer know that you are not a bore and expresses your confidence in the interview.
Granted, this is not an open-mic opportunity. Do not start rattling off jokes as if you have practiced them. Keep things professional, but do not be afraid to show some personality.
Sample Questions Asked In a Video Interview
Here are some quick questions that you may be asked during the interview. If you want more specifics on answers and other questions, check out our article below!
- So, tell me about yourself.
- What’s your working style?
- Why did you leave your last position?
- What interests you the most about this position?
- What’s your ideal manager like?
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
- How do you prioritize?
- Tell me about a difficult situation and what you did to help solve it.
- What would you do to fit in with a new team?
Can You Look at Your Notes During the Video Interview?
We’ve contradicted ourselves in a way. We say to keep eye contact and give the interviewers your full attention, but we have also stated to keep a plethora of notes on hand. So, how do you do both?
Ultimately, it’s acceptable to look at your notes during an interview. However, you should do it subtly and when appropriate. You never want to spend too much time searching your notes. You never want to ask the interviewer for a second to look over your notes. The goal is to seem as prepared as possible.
For example, if a questioner asked about something on your resume, you can look at your resume and respond to the questioner.
On the other hand, if the questionnaire asks about a topic that you should know due to your background, you should not have to look at your notes to answer. For example, network engineers often get asked to name the OSI on the model. Therefore, network engineers should have the OSI model memorized and not need to look at notes.
It’s a tricky balance. Therefore, you want to keep notes that are concise and easy to read. You don’t want to have to decipher the hieroglyphics on the page.
Closing the Video Interview
Closing the interview should work just like any in-person situation. You want to thank everyone for taking the time to speak with you. Furthermore, you want to ask follow-up questions, if the employer allows it.
If the employer asks you if you have any questions, ask them. Have a few prepared before the interview. Hint: we broke down a bunch here. Overall, make sure to ask things about how to be successful in the role. Avoid questions about salary and personal situations.
End the interview with gratitude and a smile. Once over, follow our tips for after the interview.
Overall, a video interview is exactly the same as an in-person one. The difference is the requirement of technology. Once you have that locked down, you are good to go. Just be prepared, research, and stay confident. You’ve got this.