You are applying for a job and your CV and motivation letter convinced the hiring manager, chances are the next step is an invitation to an interview. Video interviews are set to become more and more common. Contrary to what you might think, video interviews were already a regular occurrence before working from home became the norm, with 60% of recruiters using video interviews in 2019 to shorten hiring time and to improve accessibility for applicants based further away. Due to the necessity of holding interviews via Zoom or Google Meets during the pandemic, online interviews might be a little different than what you’re used to, so it’s worth keeping some golden rules in mind. Here, we share our tips for a successful video interview, no matter if it’s your first or fiftieth.
Prepare for an online interview
For some, the idea of a video interview is less intimidating than an in-real-life experience at your potential new employer’s office. The downside, however, is that you can be lulled into a false sense of comfort. This is a serious job interview, after all, and your dream job rests on it! Make sure you set aside enough time to prep before the interview. Don’t make appointments in the hour before, if possible, and spend that time getting in the zone. There’s nothing worse than rushing to put on a smart outfit 5 minutes before you’re due on Zoom!
Check your tech
The obvious downside of a video interview is that it relies on all tech working smoothly. Check if the video meeting link or app works well in advance, and contact the company if there are any issues. please use a laptop or a computer instead of your phone to have your interview. Your mic, camera and internet connection should also be tested prior to the call. Make sure you’re on the correct wifi (if you have a wifi extender at home, for example), and if in doubt, consider ‘hotspotting’ using 4G from your phone. If possible, do a test run with a friend or family member in advance. They’ll be able to advise you on the best angles and positioning and can confirm that your tech is working properly.
Watch out for your surroundings
You don’t need to rent a desk in a co-working space just for the sake of your video interview, but you do need to ensure your background is neat and professional. You could also consider a neutral Zoom background, but be extra careful to check this is working well before your interview - and that you haven’t clicked on a ‘fun’ virtual background by mistake. You wouldn’t want your potential employer to think you’re sitting on a tropical beach for your call! Check your lighting and angles in advance, and if possible, sit near a window with natural light. If you live with other people, ensure they know that you’re in a video interview, so you won’t have any surprise visitors for the duration of your call.
Consider putting a sign on your front door, too, letting people know that they shouldn’t ring the bell between certain hours. If you have noisy pets, consider asking a friend to babysit them for the day to give you a distraction-free setting. And of course, try to do the interview from home if possible to ensure your surroundings are as quiet as possible. Don’t take the call from a café - or worse, the pub… If you’re only able to attend the video interview at home at certain times due to housemates, for example, get in touch with the recruiter and see if it’s possible to arrange the call when you’ve got an empty house.
Pay attention to your body language
When you’re speaking through a screen, body language becomes more important than ever. The people you’re talking to can’t read your emotions as clearly as they would in real life, so it’s crucial to be aware of how you’re coming across. Remove distractions from behind your screen, so that you’re not tempted to look at notifications on your phone. Do your best to smile, and avoid fidgeting if possible. Ensure your screen is far enough back so that the interviewer is not just staring at your face - make sure they are able to see your upper body and remember to dress accordingly. Finally, try not to move too much during the interview. On a screen, it’s particularly distracting. Aim for a chair that doesn’t swivel, and check your posture before you hit ‘join call’.
End on a strong note
In a video interview, you miss out on the post-interview walk through the office, where you might be able to engage in some small talk with the recruiter. It’s important to end on a strong and positive note by thanking the recruiter for their time, and asking when you might expect to hear from them. Make sure you close the meeting, too, with a definitive ‘thank you’ and a smile. From here, standard job interview norms apply, like sending a follow up thank you note, and checking in with the recruiter after a week or so if you haven’t heard back already.
Standard job interview rules apply
At the end of the day, an online interview is still a standard job interview. Be prepared with to-the-point answers about your background and your professional trajectory to date and have a collection of questions about your potential employer ready, too. Communicate punctually in the run-up to the interview, and if you do need to change time or date for a legitimate reason, make sure you keep the recruiter in the loop well in advance.
Whether you enjoy video interviews or prefer the face-to-face option, virtual working is here to stay. It’s worth spending a little extra preparation time to get yourself ready for your interview, even if you’re sitting at your living room table. And as with all interviews, go over your answers in advance, have some water to hand, and don’t forget to breathe. Good luck!
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