With the increasing use of technology in almost every aspect of society, companies are now using software such as; FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Skype to conduct video interviews during their hiring and recruitment processes. Video interviews can remove extra costs associated with travel and makes scheduling significantly easier. In recent studies, 47% of companies have reported primarily using video interviewing, and 22% of companies now interview non-local candidates. Many people are already nervous about job interviews, so the added use of technology may cause some to start panicking. The purpose of this article is to address some common concerns about video interviews and provide helpful solutions so you can ace your next interview.
Mastering the Technology
When doing a video interview, having the proper tools is crucial for success. The most important tool is a reliable internet connection. You won’t be able to dazzle your future employer if your connection is lagging or cutting out. Having a practice call with a friend can allow you to assess your connection beforehand. If you encounter problems, public libraries have reliable internet and private rooms that can be utilized for free. Even with preparation and practice, there is always a risk for connection problems occurring. Therefore, you should ask your interviewer at the start for their phone number or any other way to immediately contact them if the connection cuts out.
Having a practice call with a friend can also allow you to try out the software or app that your interview will take place on. There are many YouTube tutorials available if you have specific questions or concerns. Many of the software and apps used can be downloaded onto phones and tablets that you can alternatively use for your video interview. However, you are more likely to experience connection problems with these devices.
Most laptops or desktops have built-in cameras that are often sufficient for your video interview. However, depending on your personal preference and budget, you can also invest in a high-quality camera. Many articles have noted Logitech HD Webcam C615, as their top pick for an external webcam. These or other Logitech cameras are available to purchase on Amazon, ranging between 40 - 100 dollars. Once you have set up your camera adjustments may be necessary. Your camera should be at eye level, with your face and upper body within the shot. Stacking books or other flat objects under your computer can help to achieve this. It is also important to not be backlit, which occurs when an open window or any source of light is directly behind you, casting you in shadow. Ideally, you should be facing a window or any source of light so the interviewer can clearly see you.
Most computers have built-in microphones that are usually sufficient for a video interview. However similar to cameras, you can also invest in an external microphone, depending on budget and preference. You can also use headphones during your interview if your computer has lower quality speakers or background noise is present.
Keeping the Focus On You
Even though your interview is taking place at home, you should still dress as if you were being interviewed in person. Dressing appropriately can let employers know that you are professional and will properly represent their company. Wearing pure black, white or any bright colours should be avoided as they can cause lighting issues. Patterns should also be avoided because they are often distracting. Articles mention a dark blue shirt as being the ideal colour to wear for a video interview. Pants and shoes should be worn, as articles have found these items can mentally prepare you for your formal interview. (Articles here, and here).
To avoid distractions you should discuss with anyone living with you that they must remain quiet or leave during your interview. If you have any loud pets or children it may be necessary to have someone take them off-site. Certain noises like sirens or traffic cannot be avoided if these noises occur simply apologize to the interviewer and hold your answers until the noise subsides. Closing windows and turning off any fans can also help to minimize any distracting noise.
Wherever you choose to carry out your video interview, make sure your background is plain and clean. A messy bedroom or a cluttered kitchen will distract the interviewer and make you appear unprofessional and unorganized.
Modifying your Body Language
While a video interview may seem like a strange new land, many underlying rules that apply to regular interviews, only require slight modifications.
Eye contact remains integral to establish rapport and demonstrate confidence. During your video interview, you should avoid the urge to look at the screen, instead, you should look at the camera. To your interviewer, this will give the appearance that you are making direct eye contact with them. If you have your resume or pre-prepared answers on your computer screen, do not directly read from them, only use them for reference. This way you can maintain eye contact while talking to your interviewer.
It is also important to watch your posture. Having your interview take place in a comfortable setting such as your home, may cause you to unconsciously slouch. Make a conscious effort to sit forward on your chair with a straight posture to demonstrate that you are alert and engaged in the conversation.
Hand gestures should be used sparingly and only when appropriate. Too much gesturing can be distracting, while too little can come across as unnatural and wooden. In any interview or social situation, you want to avoid crossing your arms as this can make you appear cold and closed off from the conversation.
Finally, as nervous as you might be, it is important to remain relaxed and avoid fidgeting. Taking deep breaths beforehand and practicing positive self-talk can calm your nerves.
A helpful acronym to remember when trying to appear engaged and actively listening during any conversation is SOLER. This stands for:
S = Sit facing your interviewer
O = Open posture, not crossing arms and legs.
L = Lean forward when a person is talking to you.
E = Eye contact is maintained
R = Relaxed and avoid fidgeting
Reviewing Interview Basics
It is important to not let the tech aspect distract you from properly preparing for your interview.
During your preparation, you must research the company beforehand. A company’s website can give you an idea about their mission and vision statements, while social media accounts can allow you to understand the culture. Information collected can allow you to clearly articulate why you are a good match for the company and how you can work with them to achieve their goals.
You should also reread the job description several times, highlighting specific skills the employer is looking for. From there you can determine how your past or current work experience, education, and personality matches, highlighting this specifically during your interview.
There are many articles and resources available online that detail common interview questions and what kind of information interviewers are actually looking for. Creating answers to more commonly asked questions can allow you to better share a cohesive answer rather than struggling to create one on the spot. Specifically, you may want to focus on questions regarding past failures or personal weaknesses. Be honest but strategic about your faults, you don’t want to undermine yourself, but no-one is perfect. When talking about past failure make sure to discuss what the experience taught you and how you have applied it to other situations.
While video interviews may seem like a new and daunting frontier, it simply requires extra preparation and practice. Shall you need some practice before an important interview, we offer a practice interview in our Career Clinic.
Technology should be tested early on and a practice call can help you get comfortable with the software. Before you start your interview remember to evaluate how you’re dressed and your surroundings, determine if it is sending the appropriate message. The actual interview and body language you use in a video interview are the exact same as a regular interview. The most important thing is to have confidence in yourself, your preparation, and confidence that you are the best candidate for the job.