Video Interviews: How to Prepare and Succeed

As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, businesses all over the world have had to change the way in which they operate. With the majority of the UK still working from home where possible, video interviews are becoming more popular with those companies who are continuing to hire new members of staff, and we envisage that, in order to avoid unnecessary contact, this will continue over the coming months. As a recruitment agency, we have worked alongside clients prior to COVID-19 who prefer to undertake a video interview as their first port of call when looking at suitable candidates, however, for some clients and candidates, video interviews are a new phenomenon. As such, we have put together some tips and advice on how to prepare and succeed in a video interview with a prospective employer.

Trial Your Tech

Whether you are an avid user of video calling software such as Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams or not, it is vital that you understand how to use whatever platform your video interview will be on and that you trial it ahead of your scheduled interview. If you haven’t already been told what programme the video interview will use, then make sure you have asked at least 24 to 48 hours prior to your interview. This will mean that you have plenty of time to ensure that your computer, laptop, tablet or phone is compatible with the software and allow you to create and set up an account with a professional name if you haven’t already got one. Following this, we recommend asking a friend or family member to do a trial interview with you on the particular video platform so that you know how to easily make and answer a call and to allow you to test your microphone, camera and internet connection. Doing this will enable you to make sure everything is working correctly and that you are sat in a room with good Wi-Fi connection prior to the interview. If you know that your Wi-Fi at home can be hit and miss, make sure that you close all other programmes and browsers that utilise your Wi-Fi and perhaps ask family members or house mates to refrain from using the Wi-Fi during the interview. Finally, make sure that the device you are using is fully charged prior to the interview!

Choose A Suitable Setting

Whilst you are the focus of the video interview, it is important to remember that the interviewer will also be able to see whatever is behind you and, as such, it is key to choose a suitable setting and backdrop. If you can, try and sit with a plain, neutral coloured wall behind you to limit any distractions or any colour clashes with your interview attire. Choose a room with good lighting to avoid any shadows, but not somewhere so bright that it washes you out or blinds the interviewer and, if it all possible, it is always best to sit at a table, as this will give a more professional look. When thinking about the best room to sit in you should aim to choose somewhere away from any potential distractions, i.e. away from the kitchen or any rooms where others in the house are on calls or working, if you live with other people, and away from sirens or loud cars if you live near a busy road. We recommend, when doing the trial run with your friend or family member, that you sit in the room that you are considering undertaking the interview in. This will enable you to get some feedback on how your setting, background, lighting and noise levels are prior to your interview. Finally, if you do live with other people, it might be best to tell them which room you are going to be using and what time your interview is and ask them not to come into the room until you have finished the interview and left the room.

Dress To Impress

Just because you aren’t interviewing in a professional setting does not mean that you shouldn’t dress professionally for the interview. We would always recommend wearing an outfit that you would typically wear to a face-to-face interview, and this may even help you to feel more confident! Feel free to wear something that reflects your personality and the position that you are interviewing for, however, be sure to refrain from bright colours or prints as they may clash with the camera. When in doubt, choose neutral block colours like black, navy, white and grey. For women, a neutral coloured blouse with a blazer or suit jacket and skirt or trousers, or a block coloured dress with blazer or suit jacket will look smart. For men, stick to a neutral coloured shirt with colour coordinated tie (if appropriate), suit jacket and trousers. Where makeup is concerned, again, make sure your makeup looks natural and steer clear from bright or heavy eyeshadow or lipstick. You may need to put a little more makeup on than you would for a face-to-face interview so that the camera picks this up, however, this is something you can test with a family member or friend beforehand to make sure you haven’t gone overboard! With regards to jewellery, again, it is fine to wear jewellery as it can showcase your personality, however, try to keep jewellery to a minimum and avoid anything too flashy, sparkly or distracting such as jangly and noisy jewellery or anything that may dazzle too much in the light. Finally, make sure that your hair is well-groomed and tamed and, for men with facial hair, make sure any facial hair looks neat and tidy.

Think About Body Language

Body language is key in any interview setting, but even more so during a video interview situation as it will be harder to pick up than in a face-to-face interview. In order to demonstrate eye-contact, be sure to look into the camera rather than at yourself, the interviewer or the bottom of the screen. Make a conscious effort not to fidget and to sit up straight, as it can be easy to fall into more of a slouched position when you are not directly sat in front of someone or if you aren’t sat in a proper chair. Whilst the interviewer is speaking, make sure you show that you are listening and engaged, which can be done through something as subtle as nodding your head in agreement. If you are speaking, make sure you that you come across in a positive and enthusiastic way and, if needs be, lean forward a little more and use hand gestures where appropriate. When you are answering questions it is important that you speak clearly and don’t rush your answers, and try to leave a short gap after the interviewer speaks, as there can be a slight delay on video calls which may mean that you unintentionally interrupt the interviewer before they have finished speaking. Finally, make sure you smile!

Be Prepared

Just like you would with a face-to-face interview, it is vital that you prepare for the interview by researching the company and the individual who is interviewing you (if possible), making sure you know your CV and the job description inside out and practising interview style questions, such as questions relating to your CV, your personality and scenario based questions. We also recommend jotting down on a piece of paper a few questions to ask the interviewer which you can keep to one side to jog your memory, these can be anything from ‘What are you looking for in an ideal candidate?’, ‘How would you describe the culture of the company?’, ‘What challenges might I face in this role if successful?’ or any questions surrounding the role or the company. Furthermore, it might be useful to have your CV to hand on the table if you feel that this is appropriate, again in order to jog your memory if needs be. Finally, make sure you have a pen and paper in order to make any notes during the interview and a glass of water in case you need it.

Don’t Panic

This is probably one of the most important tips we can give. With any technology, there is the possibility that you or the interviewer may face technical difficulties but do not panic if this does happen! Once on the video call it is worth firstly checking that the interviewer can hear and see you okay and vice versa, if both parties are happy we would suggest asking the interviewer for a phone number just in case you do have any technical difficulties or yours/their internet drops out so that you can continue the interview over the phone if needs be. But the main thing is to remain calm if you do face any issues, these things are to be expected every now and again and it shouldn’t affect your interview feedback.

We hope that these tips help you in order to prepare and succeed during a video interview. The main thing is to try to enjoy the interview as best you can and really make sure your personality, your skills, your experience and the value you can bring to the role and the company shines through. If you need any further information or advice on how to prepare for an interview, be it face-to-face or over video, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Best of luck!

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

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