Video interviews are common in today’s global talent market. Whether it’s due to geographical boundaries, time constraints or self-isolating, the hiring process increasingly involves real-time candidate interviews via platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Teams or Google Hangouts. While this technology helps recruiters simulate a traditional face-to-face interview, candidates should be aware that different preparation is required to ensure their video interview is a success.
Below are some essential video interview tips, as recommended by our consultants.
Whether it's at home, in an office or at another location, always make sure that you choose a private setting for the video interview, where there’ll be no disruptions.
Quiet at all times
If you’re at home or in a private office/room, shut all the windows to prevent inappropriate background noise. Tell your family or whoever you share the space with to respect your privacy and needs. And make sure your pets are kept in an area as far away as possible.
Bright lights and no clutter
Lots of natural light is ideal. Complement this by activating any lights in the room, to ensure the image is clear. If the projection is still dark or dim, try bringing additional lamps into the space to create a brighter view. Don’t silhouette yourself with the window behind you.
Tidying the room is good for your overall concentration. And ensure any surfaces in camera-range are free of clutter.
A neutral view is sensible. Don’t try to suggest aspects of your personality by leaving specific items or pictures in focus. Everyone’s assumptions, tastes and interests are different.
It's acceptable to have a pen, notepad, your resume and any reference notes with you, as well as a glass or bottle of water.
When it comes to clothes, you should definitely approach your video interview as if you were visiting a recruiter’s or potential new employer’s premises. Formal attire is the norm. But remember to research the company too. It might be the case that employees wear shirts without ties, or that they adopt a relaxed fashion policy regardless of context.
Colours, patterns and stripes are out
Whether you aim for a blouse and jacket combination, or collared jumper ensemble, be sure to avoid bright colours during a video interview. Patterns and stripes are distracting too, so interrogate your wardrobe in advance and only select softer solid shades. Always get fully dressed. Yes, only your head and shoulders are visible. But a complete outfit will put you in the right frame of mind and avoid any embarrassment if you did unexpectedly have to stand up.
Adjust your chair and always angle the camera to ensure you’re staring at the centre of the screen, looking up slightly. Close unnecessary web browser windows, documents and applications. Postpone any software auto-updates.
Mute any notification sounds on your devices – that includes placing your phone on silent mode or in another room altogether. Create a professional username on your video conference provider.
Plug your equipment in or make sure it's fully charged. Test everything – audio, visuals, connection – well in advance, and on the day, to facilitate an issue-free video interview experience.
Hands, mouth and eyes
Your body language during a video interview is very important. Even the best technologies and video conferencing software can’t erase the fact that participants are in entirely different places.
So, instead of eye contact, try to look directly at the webcam when speaking. Nod and smile regularly when listening to the interviewer. Subtle hand gestures are good but don’t flail around or touch your face.
Keep your note-taking to a minimum. If you’re a fidgeter, maybe hold a pen to keep your hands still. Sit upright, with your feet on the floor.
Speak clearly, don’t interrupt
There may be a time lag. But even if communication is instantaneous, it’s harder to follow a video interview conversation if you’re not speaking clearly. This format means it’s easy to disrupt someone when they’re talking too. Practising will help you avoid this common video interview pitfall.
All the above advice can’t protect you from unexpected occurrences. First and foremost, acknowledge the problem. Whether it’s that the image isn’t clear, or the sound is poor, don’t try to continue as if nothing is wrong. If the technology fails, ensure you exchange phone numbers with the interviewer beforehand so you can reschedule for another time.
They could happen and if they do, apologise immediately and ask the interviewer for a few moments until the interruption (e.g. a noise outside) has passed. If it involves you getting up to remove a pet or family member from the room, suggest to the interviewer that you’ll mute your microphone or turn the camera off until the situation is dealt with.
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