Essential tips for video interviews
Video interviews are becoming more common. It’s due to faster internet, better technology for devices like cameras, and an increasingly geographically diverse population. The final reason so many companies are switching from in-person interviews is Covid-19; there’s nothing like a pandemic for employers to realise a video interview is as rich with information as an in-person one.
1. Technical stuff
Get the basics right so you’re not stressed out in the minutes before the call. Make sure your laptop is plugged in throughout the interview. Find a place that’s close to the WiFi connection.
If you can, use a desktop PC, or at the very least, have your laptop on a solid surface. This stops your viewers from having a shaky experience.
Find out what software the interview is using and make sure you don’t need to download a driver or program first. If possible, test everything beforehand, most software gives you this option.
A headset is the clearest option, earbuds with microphone capabilities the second and only use your computer microphone if you have no other choice. It can give feedback, echoes and it picks up ambient noise which can be distracting to both you and the interviewer.
Face a natural light source when possible, and don’t have a window behind you. If you’re backlit, your interviewers will just see a dark shadow. They need to see your face clearly. If you need to, have a desk lamp on so you have light on your face.
If you can, have the laptop at eye level, so you’re looking straight at the camera, not looking down at your interviewers. You also want to make sure the camera sees your face and shoulders clearly, maybe as far down as mid-chest. This way, you can use your hands/ non-verbal communication which can help to get your point across.
Have a plain background if possible. Avoid piles of laundry, posters and art, or anything else unprofessional or distracting.
Wear the same clothes and makeup as you would to a regular interview. And while they won’t be seen, your pants/ skirt should be professional too, to help you feel the part.
3. Avoid distractions
Choose a quiet spot in the house with no distractions and people. If you have people that are unavoidable, tell them you’d appreciate it if they were quiet.
Do a dry run first, in your outfit, with the software. If you want to, you can have written prompts set behind and above the camera, no one will notice if you look at them occasionally.
5. Strategies for using the technology well
Get used to pausing briefly before responding to questions. Sometimes there is a delay with visual and audio responses, so a micro-pause before answering a question means there’s no uncomfortable lag or missing information.
When you’re speaking and replying to the interviewer’s questions, look at the camera, not at the screen. While it’s fine to look at them when you’re listening to them, and occasionally check yourself out to make sure you’re still looking good and your body language is positive, make sure you’re looking at them when you speak.
6. Prepare like you would for a face-to-face interview
Just like you would for a traditional interview, you need to prepare.
- Research the company you’re applying to work with. Find out about their company goals and missions, locations, if they do any charitable work and what services they offer. Often, an interviewer will ask you what you know about the company; be prepared.
- Have a question to ask. The interviewer will always ask you if you have any questions for them. In case nothing comes up during the interview, have a pre-prepared one. If they haven’t told you already, it’s acceptable to ask them about the pay scale for the role, or how many candidates they are interviewing. You can ask about the job specifically, like if you’ll be expected to do a certain task, or a wider question about the company.
- Prepare answers to questions. There are some questions they are likely to ask.
- Tell us about yourself? This is simple to answer; just a bit about you that’s relevant to employers. If you feel comfortable, you can tell them things like your country of origin, how long you’re been living in Australia and a bit about your family. Otherwise, stick to your hobbies, education and your work experience.
- Where do you see yourself in X years? Talk about your career ambitions, and if you can, link it up to the goals of the company. ‘I’d love to become a branch manager’.
- What are your strengths/ weaknesses? Keep these work-related. Strengths such as being able to take the initiative, being punctual or being a team player. It’s beneficial to support these with examples of how you have put this into practice as well.
- What are your expectations around salary? Here, you can mention salaries from previous roles, or talk about industry averages for the role.
- Can you give an example of a time when X happened and how you dealt with it? This is a bit trickier, but remember to briefly explain the situation, what the problem was, what YOU did to resolve it, and the outcome.
The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you’ll feel
An online meeting can be less stressful than a face to face interview. You don’t have to worry about traffic, or tripping over your own feet, or having sweaty palms when you shake hands.
Set everything up in advance, and you can go into the interview calm and cool. Remember, your interviewers are only people, and they know interviews are stressful. They also had to have an interview, or many interviews, to get to where they are.