Today, when our personal and business lives got uprooted by previously unseen challenges and a big bulk of companies shifted to remote working, employers need to adapt to a “new normal”. In this changed status quo, video job interviews will increasingly spread and take over the role of face-to-face meetings.
When you need to stare into a tiny black dot with a green light; how to excel in this scenario? We have collected the best tips relating to this subject.
Whether you have already taken part in an online job interview or not, the chances are that eventually, you will. As video conferencing has become a convenient way of communication, it usually precedes face-to-face meetings because:
- A video call is fast, just like a phone interview, but offers an insightful view of both the interviewer and the interviewee.
- With the expansion of the gig economy, freelancers deliver work for specific short-term projects remotely.
- Working from home is gaining popularity due to businesses spreading internationally.
- Flexible hours and different routines enable staff to work from anywhere.
- Unprecedented global events are temporarily keeping employees behind closed doors, while they are still working.
Many people experience nervousness and excitement about video job interviews as such a setting is perceived as challenging and impersonal. Still, if you prepare thoroughly and take the time to practice, you can ensure that you will excel during your remote meetings.
Treat the video interview just as you would a face-to-face one: Get in the same mindset, dress alike, make ample preparations and behave likewise.
Set the scene
Your background is a crucial part of making a good impression. Try to choose a neutral setting that is not busy, as clutter will divert attention from you. Keep your desk neat and tidy, too, so that the interviewer can have an undisturbed focus on you. At the same time, you need to make sure that your environment is quiet and nothing and nobody will interrupt you during the meeting.
Your posture must be right; sit upright with a straight back. Place the camera at eye level for the most natural view. If your camera is part of your laptop or screen, stack some books under the device to elevate it.
Test the technology
Using a headset with a microphone helps your interviewer hear you clearly, and will filter out background noises. Run a test by recording your voice or by quickly calling a friend or family member.
Although WiFi technology has become highly reliable and fast, try to connect to the internet through cable for more stable reception. Testing connection speed (to see how it fares to the recommended 10Mbps range for HD video calls) is also a beneficial approach.
You also need to make sure that your device is plugged in to avoid your battery going flat and losing connection.
It takes time to get familiar and comfortable with speaking into a camera. Practice with friends or family members who can give you feedback on how you did. (This will also give you an excuse to keep in touch with your family regularly!) You need to build up confidence before a job interview, so ask them to focus on points that you can improve and not mistakes.
Remember you can record yourself answering a few common questions if there is nobody around.
Dress in line with the company’s standards, just as if you were meeting them in person. (You can still wear your pyjamas below the waist.)
During the interview
Use a professional account name
The user name or the email address you are using for the online meeting must be professional. Use your name, and add some numbers if the combination of your name is already taken. If your account name is “cookiemonster987”, for example, the interviewer may find it hard to take you seriously (unless you are applying for a job with the Sesame Street production team).
Be available ten minutes before the meeting and let them know that you are ready to start on time.
If you are in the virtual room and feel that you may get nervous while waiting, you can mute your mic and switch off the camera to take deep breaths to calm down. Make sure you have a glass of water, should your mouth go dry. Once the interviewer joins the call, you can switch your camera and mic back, and the show must go on.
Stay mindful of yourself
Remember to behave as if you were at a face-to-face meeting; your interviewer can see and hear what you are doing. Stay silent and listen to them when they speak. Do not converse with others in your room (there should be nobody else there, though).
Refrain from fidgeting, twitching, playing with your hair or chewing your nails. Your legs may not show, but if you tap with them to alleviate stress, your upper body will shake, which is visible to your video partner. Be aware of your behaviour and surroundings, and have a sole focus on your interviewer(s) and your conversation.
Be an active party
Maintaining eye contact is crucial; your eyes should not wander off the screen. When speaking, look into the camera (usually placed right at the top of your screen, so it should not be a problem). You can ask the interviewer at the beginning if they see and hear you well, to ensure that you come across in good shape.
Remember to smile now and then so you can channel pleasant and positive energy, but stay mindful; too much smiling may look creepy or dishonest.
Forget the cheat sheet
It is tempting to open up a cheat sheet or notes on the screen. Remember that you would not start reading a piece of paper during a meeting in person. Using notes will distract you, and your gaze intermittently darting to one corner will look awkward from the other side.
Leave your phone behind (if you can)
A ringing or buzzing phone can be highly distracting, even during a video call. Leave it in another room if you can. If you are interviewing via your phone, switch it to “do not disturb” mode so no incoming calls or messages will interrupt your conversation.
Expect the unexpected
Technology goes wrong; there always are hiccups. Be prepared for your internet connection going haywire, or audio/video breaking up. To be on the safe side, restart your router before the interview. Instead of stressing about it, should it happen, embrace the situation and show that you can handle such a situation. Apologise, say that you will quickly fix it.
Send a “thank you” note
After the meeting, send out a short and professional “thank you” note to the person leading the interview. Thank them for the opportunity and say that you are looking forward to hearing from them.
Dear Jane/Ms Doe,
Thank you for the opportunity today.
I look forward to hearing from you,
It may take some time to receive feedback from the company. This is normal. Employers usually take time to make recruitment decisions. They want to make sure that you are the best fit for the company as well as having the needed set of knowledge.
Remember, if you do not receive feedback straight away, it does not automatically mean that they rejected you. If the company had announced a planned date for closing the recruitment, do not follow up before that deadline.
After the date has passed (or you received no feedback), follow up with a concise email.
Dear John/Mr Doe,
I hope all is well with you.
I am just writing to follow up on our interview.
I look forward to hearing from you,
If you did not get the job, it makes sense to stay in touch with your interviewer to nurture your business connections. Follow up with them regularly to build a relationship; you may end up in another job and collaborate with them.
The first video interview may feel awkward, and you will probably make mistakes. Revisit these hiccups later and continually work on improving your delivery. Thankfully, technology is here, which means interviews are not cancelled.
Your performance during a remote meeting is a skill that will set you apart from your peers. Because when you are offered a role, your new company will be confident that during these times you will still be able to communicate effectively with your team. So, take time now to master it; this is a new communication norm.