Video interviewing takes the reins

By Robert Half on 18th March 2020

Telecommuting is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s workforce, and the same is true for remote job interviews. The reasons? Video interviews save time and money for the company and its job candidates, and helps keep business moving forward during times when there’s hesitation to meet face to face.

Make no mistake: Preparing for a video interview should be just as involved as prepping for an in-person meeting — plus there are additional nuances to figure out. But with some practice and the right mindset, you can put yourself in a position to shine. Here are some tips to consider for your next video interview that can help you make it to the next round:

  • Test your tech. At least a full day before the interview, do a trial run to make sure your equipment works properly. Download any apps or plugins you’ll need — and that they work as expected on your system. Test it on a video call with a friend or family member, if possible. And give yourself enough time to figure out new solutions if anything’s malfunctioning.

    If you’re using a laptop or tablet, make sure it’s fully charged on the day of the interview, and pick a spot with strong, reliable Wi-Fi. With a tablet, avoid holding it during the interview. Find a way to keep it propped up and stable, so the camera stays steady. Avoid using a smartphone for video interviews if at all possible.

  • Dress for success. For a video interview, wear exactly what you’d wear to an in-person interview, from head to toe. Doing so not only instils confidence, but also prevents potential embarrassment if you, say, accidentally lean back too far and reveal that you’re wearing pyjamas. Also, avoid wearing bright, flashy colours, and choose something that looks neatly pressed while you’re sitting down.
  • Find the right room. Choose a location that’s free of children, roommates, pets and outside noise. Avoid public places such as coffee shops or courtyards, which can suddenly become loud. Likewise, steer clear of libraries, where you could be interrupted and asked to quiet down. And make sure the background is free from clutter or embarrassing items like piles of laundry. Set up lighting that’s bright but not glaring, illuminating your face from the front. Natural light is best.
  • Eliminate interference. Silence all alerts, including email, texts, social media, software updates and others that might show up on screen. Quit all programmes that you won’t use during the interview, and close any unnecessary browser tabs.
  • Triumph over nerves. Log in 5-10 minutes early so you can be calm and centred when the video interview begins. Print out the job description and any speaking points or notes you’ve taken about the company or position, and keep them where you can see them at a glance. You won’t want to read from the pages, but having them handy can take away some stress.
  • Come across like a video pro. Certain elements of communication can be tricky when you’re not physically in the room with the interviewer. Maintaining “eye contact” by looking directly into the camera instead of at the screen or at your own photo is a good way to remain engaged. Keep good posture, sitting with your back straight, feet on the ground and arms resting in your lap or on your desk.

    When speaking, project your voice — though not too much. Check your volume controls. And speak clearly so the microphone picks up your voice and the interviewer doesn’t have to strain to hear you. Remember that digital connections can sometimes be delayed. Let the interviewer finish the question and then pause for a couple of seconds before answering.

  • Don’t forget the thank-you. Just as you would during an in-person interview, thank the interviewer for the opportunity. And follow up with a post-interview thank-you note within 24 hours. In your note, briefly reinforce why you’re interested in the job and why you’d be a great match for the role and company. Think about adding something that you and the employer discussed while getting to know each other that will make your message more personal.

Bottom line: if you diligently prepare for video interviews and utilise best practices, you’ll go a long way toward making a strong first impression and hopefully land the job – or at least another interview.

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