For some reason, it seems that nothing makes job applicants quite as nervous as these two words: video interview. With that in mind, you can imagine their collective horror in learning that, thanks to advances in technology and the introduction of video chat platforms like Skype and Zoom, employers across the globe are now using video interviews as part of their standard hiring process.
For hiring managers, video interviews are an incredible tool to streamline the recruitment process, screen applicants, get access to a much larger candidate pool and attract remote talent to their organizations. For job seekers, video interviews are typically not seen in such a glowing light. A job interview in general can be nerve-wracking enough, but for those of us who haven’t experienced a video interview before, the whole idea can be pretty intimidating. Unfortunately for camera-shy candidates, the global pandemic and uncertain health situation in Canada has left employers without the option to meet applicants in person, making video the favoured method of conducting interviews.
But you know we’ve always got your back, right? Read on to learn how you can feel comfortable in a video interview, impress the hiring manager and land your dream job.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Let’s make sure you’ve got the basic equipment available and ready to use. For a video interview you won’t need any fancy technology, just your laptop or computer and a webcam. If your speaker system and microphone don’t work very well, you’ll want to invest in a headset, or headphones and a mic, but for the majority of people, what you already have at home will likely work just fine. Equally important, you’ll want to make sure that you have a stable Internet connection – nothing like giving the perfect answer to a tough interview question only to realize the Internet cut out and the hiring manager didn’t hear a word of it.
If you don’t have access to the tech you need, make sure you arrange to borrow equipment from a friend or family member, and if that isn’t an option, be sure to reach out to your recruiter or the hiring manager and speak with them about alternatives.
Familiarize yourself with whatever video chat platform the interview will be conducted on, and make sure you have a professional username to login with. You’d be shocked at how many adults still use the accounts they created when they were 18. While sassy_sammy2001 may have been a hit back in the day, samanthasmith_ will very likely make a better impression in a professional setting.
SET THE STAGE
Choose an area in your home to make your “meeting room”. Ideally this room will have a closing door to limit the likelihood of interruptions, but if that isn’t possible, decide on the best spot available.
Try and find somewhere quiet with good lighting and a neutral background behind you – a wall without pictures or posters on it is best.
If you have roommates or family members living with you, give them advance notice that you’ll be interviewing on so-and-so date at so-and-so time and that you’ll need privacy. If you’ve got pets, make sure they’re in another area of the house for the duration of your interview, the last thing you need is your cat leaping onto the keyboard or your dog’s howling drowning out your (brilliant) answers.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
As with anything, the more you practice, the easier it gets. If you’re new to video interviewing, we can’t stress enough what a good idea it is to do practice calls with your friends or family on the days leading up to your interview. Seriously, Skype your mom, she’ll be thrilled to hear from you and you’ll get some great feedback.
Practice calls help you familiarize yourself with the video chat platform you’ll be using and also get you used to being on camera. The more comfortable you feel, the more confident you’ll come across to the person interviewing you.
If you don’t want to practice with someone you know, you can always record yourself on camera and then review it. It’s very common to catch yourself nervously playing with your hair, tapping your foot or fidgeting in some other way when you’re nervous, which can be distracting to the hiring manager.
THE BIG DAY
You’ve practiced, you’re prepared and the big day is here. Make sure you test your equipment one more time and remind anyone you share your household with not to interrupt. This includes you, Fido.
Just because you aren’t leaving the comfort of your home doesn’t mean you don’t need to dress the part. Dress the same way you would if it were an in-person interview, and before you say it – yes, this means wearing pants.
Make eye contact with the person conducting your interview, it demonstrates a level of connection which is even more important when you’re not meeting face-to-face.
Do not look at yourself. We repeat, do not look at yourself. We know how tempting it is, trust us, we get it. Stay focused and engaged with the hiring manager and feel free to smile and nod to show you’re interested and listening.
As always, make sure you convey your optimism and enthusiasm about this opportunity and thank your interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Oh, and – we have to say it – sit up straight!
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
As we’re all aware, now more than ever, you can never assume everything will go exactly to plan. Sometimes things happen in a way we never could have expected and all we can do is roll with it.
If your audio or video stops working mid-interview, you’ll want to be sure you have a phone number where you can reach the hiring manager. Chances are they’ll be happy to conduct the rest of the interview by phone once you explain the situation.
Should someone not heed your very clear instructions to steer clear or there’s an interruption of another kind, apologize to your interviewer, ask for a moment to deal with the situation, then return to the interview with one more apology. Don’t dwell on what happened, keep your focus and continue with the remainder of your interview with the same confidence as when you started.
BONUS: THIS ONE’S FOR THE EMPLOYERS
Be patient and be kind. For many people, interviewing by video is a totally new and intimidating experience. Do your best to make them feel comfortable and try and cut them some slack if they seem a bit nervous – they’re nervous because they want to impress you!