Quick and convenient, video interviews are becoming ever more commonplace in the world of recruitment. But what are the rules? Here we give a guide to handling your video interview as professionally as possible.
As our world becomes increasingly virtual, more and more employers are using the internet to conduct virtual interviews with potential employees. While such meetings might save companies time and money, the circumstances are so different from in-person interviews that special preparation is necessary for both sides in order to make the most of it.
Whether at home or in the office, ensure you set up your equipment in a nice, quiet place where you are unlikely to be distracted.
Always take care to check what can be seen in the shot behind you. If you are an interviewee, a cluttered kitchen may be distracting to your interviewer and is unlikely to make you seem like an attractive candidate.
If you are an interviewer, it might be worth selecting either a backdrop which shows your company logo or otherwise something which demonstrates the ethos of your business. Whatever you decide, a calm and professional environment is a must.
It is important that the person you are talking to can see your face. Make sure that the area is adequately lit and that you are properly illuminated. You don’t want anyone struggling to make you out in the dark. Remember that if you sit directly in front of a window you will appear as a silhouette.
Presentation and Interview Techniques
As in any interview situation, you want to present the person you are meeting with the best possible version of yourself. Dress professionally, as if you were meeting face-to-face and not just from the waist up.
If you have to stand up or reach over at any point during the interview, a nice juicy shot of your pajama bottoms isn’t going to do you any favors. If you are the one doing the interviewing, dress in a way appropriate to your company. Don’t be tempted to go more casual just because you are not meeting in person.
Showing up on time is crucial. Make sure that you are able to log in to the interview nice and early, you don’t want anyone waiting around while you fumble with your computer.
To get an idea of how you come across in an interview, practice asking or answering questions by yourself.
Recording yourself doing this gives you the opportunity to study your speech and mannerisms. Rehearsing in this way can be extremely beneficial; you can iron out any creases, pinpointing and working on anything you feel might give you cause for embarrassment. Alternatively, you could practice with another person, getting them to be as objective as possible in their feedback.
Remain personable throughout the interview and try and maintain virtual eye contact. Remember that this means looking at the camera on the computer rather than constantly looking at the person you are speaking to on the screen.
Writing for Entrepreneur, Kim LaChance Shadow writes, “don’t forget to smile and often. You’ll seem more approachable.” This is equally important for both employers and candidates.
While as an interviewer you should stay aware of the time; it is important to give the candidate plenty of time to provide you with adequate responses to your questions. Remember that they may be more nervous during an interview than they would otherwise be, so allow for this (to a point) according to your own discretion.
If you are a candidate, ResumeBear recommends that you ask the employer relevant questions which “show your interest in the company and your desire to succeed.” When responding to questions try to remain calm, concise and cool as a cucumber. At no point start rambling; you want to sound like the professional you know yourself to be.
Take your time and don’t race through your answers. While noting a couple of key words and phrases may help you, be seen to be reading responses from a typed up sheet will be rather obvious to the interviewer. No one wants to hire a robot. And on that note.
Test all of your equipment prior to the meeting time. You don’t want the microphone to make you sound robotic. Make sure that your webcam is working and that it is lined up with your face when you are in your seat.
Make sure that you have sufficient battery life and that your Broadband connection is working. It might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at just how often these interrupt the interview process and how disruptive such problems can be.
Be sure to close all other programs on your computer before your interview. Unwanted pop-ups and notifications may distract you at a critical moment. If you are an interviewer it may be a good idea to set up a dedicated Skype account for job interviews.
If you are the candidate, check your profile on whatever account or medium you are using for the interview (Skype, Google+ etc) to make sure that it looks professional and/ or appropriate to the industry.
To avoid any last minute hiccups, make sure you remember to add your interviewer to your contacts list if using Skype and make sure that everything is working properly, well ahead of the meeting time.
Of course, while you may be forgiven for technical difficulties, there are certain faults that many professionals will find it hard to overlook. Most of these relate to the content of the interview itself. Ideally, the purpose of an interview should be to arm both parties with all the information they need to enter into a new agreement or situation.
A good interview should cover all bases. There is no excuse for poor preparation. If you haven’t bothered to adequately prepare for an interview, why should the other person?
Research and Content
According to a helpful video posted by careers tech experts Dice on YouTube 92% of interviewers will look at a candidate online before an interview. It is therefore important that you know how to protect yourself from embarrassing questions which may arise in an interview situation.
If you interview regularly for a variety of positions, make sure you really understand what the specific post entails and what sort of candidate you are looking for. Google your business and the position and prepare adequate responses relating to anything you might be asked.
If you are selecting from a large pool of candidates, remember to have all the relevant information about the candidate in front of you to refer to throughout the interview. Forgetting the candidate’s name or the position they are interviewing for is not only rude but can be extremely off-putting.
Ask questions that give the interviewee scope for creativity and allow them the chance to show you the skills most appropriate to the job. If they hesitate, prompt them once or twice, then politely move on.
Make sure that you truly understand both the position and the company. According to ResumeBear, “Taking the time to do the right research is very important, and can really affect the outcome of your interview.”
Keep the privacy settings on your social media accounts up to date, making sure that your posts are available to the public only when you want them to be.
Google yourself. Turning off the personalized search results on Google means that you will see what others see when they enter your name into Google, getting a more objective reading. Be sure to look beyond the first few pages in a Google search to be sure that you haven’t missed any potentially embarrassing results.
Look at what others are saying about you online. This is particularly important if you are a potential target for comments such as a boss or trainer and if you are someone who regularly posts opinions online under a searchable screen name. On the subject of online opinions, it might be a good idea to use an online reputation management tool.
Such tools assess whether the majority of responses reacting to your online comments are positive, negative or neutral. If you do post a lot of content online, the foremost thing is to be proactive. While others have the right to disagree with your opinions, you equally have the right to refute anything posted that might pose a threat to your online reputation.
Argue with your critics but do so tactfully and with grace, knowing when to agree to disagree. Avoid posting anything which conveys traits such as anger or pomposity as these could throw up red cards for potential employers.
Such issues only pose dangers to the ill-prepared candidate. So long as you know what you may be asked, you have the time to prepare elegant responses which deconstruct any negatives and remind your interview opponent of your strong points.
If, for example, your interviewer comments on your forthright opinions posted on news sites, you could give a readily prepared response. An appropriate answer for such a question might sound something like this:
“While I am aware that not everyone shares my opinions, I believe it is important to maintain an open dialogue on today’s key issues and am thrilled by contributing my thoughts to matters I feel passionately about.”
Let employers see your side of the story and allow them to see that you are know that you are rational, tolerant and responsible when it comes to monitoring your online image.
Above all, for both interviewers and interviewees, the most important thing is honesty. Tell the truth. Don’t misrepresent either yourself or your business, it will only cause trouble further down the line.
After the Interview
Remember to send a polite thank you e-mail or letter, just as you would after any interview. This is equally important for both parties.