Thanks to widespread, strict quarantines created by the coronavirus, the world is shifting rapidly to a fully remote workforce and virtual work processes. For job seekers, this likely means your first few—if not all interviews—will be video interviews.
This is not new ground, as more than 50% of technology companies already employ video interviews as a way to quickly screen candidates and cut through the headache of juggling busy schedules. However, given that the majority of interviews will be conducted virtually, it is critical that candidates understand how to optimize this medium to assure they stand out and properly assess if the interviewing company is a right fit for them.
Here are a few tips we’ve collected from our team to help you nail your next video interview.
Set the scene.
Set up your computer with an eye for what your background will show to the interviewer. Ideally, the background should be static. Try to avoid having windows which can offer movement and distractions, as well as they tend to backlight your body, obscuring your face. Some experts recommend having a plain white wall to put the focus completely on you and to avoid all possibilities of offending the interviewer. Others suggest a more attractive background humanizes you more, and shares a realistic part of your personality. The reality is that it's most important for you to be in a place that is comfortable, and gives you confidence.
Show your face.
Make sure your face is well lit, and at eye level. Dark or unflattering video images create a secretive or sinister atmosphere and make your presence less appealing. Place a light or two behind your computer camera to ensure your face is fully visible. Prop your computer up on a couple books or pillows and scoot your chair in to give a clear view of your face. This helps interviewers to read your face while you respond to their questions and creates better connections with you. Remember, you are trying to use technology to simulate an in-person interview, so be careful not to hide behind digital detractors that diminish real life connections.
Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Ask your recruiter or HR contact to provide as many details of the interview ahead of time, including the LinkedIn information on the interviewer, the expectations of the interview and next steps, and the technology details. Do your homework to learn as much as you can about the person you will be talking to, and craft at least 3-5 questions to ask them. Since you will not be able to see the environment they work in, try to ask a few questions about the culture and their personal experience of working there. Also, test that your computer has all the right software and the mic and camera are working before the interview. Give yourself plenty of time to troubleshoot or suggest an alternative if technology fails you.
Dress to impress.
Just because your video interview streams from your house, does not mean you should show up in your pajamas. Think about how you will be presenting yourself, and dress accordingly. Even if you are certain once you’re hired you will be in concert t-shirts and hoodies, take this opportunity to step up your appearance. Plus, dressing smartly always gives you a confidence boost. Remember, the goal is to have the interviewer focus on your personality and skills, not your looks, so don’t let your bedhead take the focus away from your potential. Equally important, be sure you maintain good posture, avoid fidgeting and refrain from eating during the interview. And of course, don’t forget to wear your smile!
Mind the time.
Firstly, show up on time for the interview. Wasting interviewer time is disrespectful and often hard to overcome. During the interview, aim to keep your answers concise yet complete. Remember that video lags often make it a bit more difficult for both parties to carry a natural conversation. Rambling answers make it difficult for the interviewer to clarify or explore your answers further. It is also important to be respectful of their time. Pay attention to the clock, and if the conversation is going long in one area, be sure to checkpoint with 10 minutes to spare to see if the interviewer(s) are good for time and all important points are covered. Potentially they may want to run over, or schedule a secondary conversation. But the consideration and respect for the interviewer’s valuable time will build a lot of goodwill.
These tips will help you present yourself in the best light, while selling the value you can add to a new team. The more you know about the right way to present yourself during a video interview, the easier it is to make a great first impression. Hopefully, these tips will help you nail that next video interview!