As we move through lockdown, with physical distancing becoming the ‘new norm’ (for the next few weeks at least!), face-to-face interviews are certainly not an option at the moment. And while communication tools like Skype and Zoom have been around for years, out of necessity, they’ve become critical to the candidate screening process as we transform into a 100% virtual state. 

Have an upcoming video interview to prepare for? Although the differences might seem minimal, if you haven’t done one before – there are a few things to watch out for. 

Preparation is (still) key to your success

Instead of planning your commute to ensure you turn up on time, it’s all about making sure your equipment is set up, tested and ready to go in advance! A trial run can be useful here, helping you to feel comfortable and ensure everything is working the way it should be.

  • Check the camera angle/distance 

  • Check your wifi connection (and have a backup plan just in case your connection drops out!)

  • Turn off all notifications (phone, watch, email etc.)

  • Close down any programs that you don’t need/could distract you

  • Ensure you are logged into the platform you’ll be using for the interview (Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts etc.)

  • If you’re using a phone or tablet, consider propping it up against something to avoid any wobbles!

  • Ensure that you are seated at eye-level to the camera

  • Get everything set up and ready to go 15 minutes prior to kickoff

Create a professional setting

It might sound obvious, but the setting in which you are interviewing makes a massive difference to how you come across, as well as being a key part of video interview etiquette. 

  • Shut any windows and doors that could create additional noise

  • Consider using a headset to optimise audio quality

  • Ensure the space you are sitting has good lighting

  • Remove any distractions, such as TVs or people moving around

  • Try and find a space that has a blank background (an area that is free from clutter will be less distracting for interviewers)

While it is important to let others in the house know that you aren’t to be disturbed, it does happen (like the man in this viral BBC interview) – especially in times like this when we are all locked away together! Our best advice: if your interview does get interrupted, whether it’s a pet looking for attention, or your child curiously peeking over your shoulder – embrace it! It’s happening to everyone at the moment, so the chances are your interviewer will just laugh it off. 

It can be easy to assume that a video interview is less formal than meeting someone face-to-face, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a dress code to adhere to. It’s no secret that dressing to impress can give you a boost in confidence; helping to put you in the right frame of mind for things like interviews. One piece of advice: don’t be tempted into wearing your PJ bottoms – it only takes one little mistake to expose yourself! 

Be aware of how you come across

As you are sitting across from your interviewer (virtually, of course!), video interviews shouldn’t feel too dissimilar from meeting someone in person. While the usual body language advice applies, there are a few additional video interview tips to think about:

  • You can’t shake the interviewer’s hand, but greet them with a smile and ask a couple of questions prior to starting e.g. how’s your day been?

  • Maintain eye contact, not by looking at the screen, but by looking at the camera (otherwise it may appear as if you are looking down or away from the screen)

  • Be aware of delays in the video feed. I’d suggest pausing between answers, giving the interviewer plenty of time to listen to your response and form a reply. 

  • Avoid fast hand gestures and movements which may appear blurry on screen. 

  • Avoid reading from a script – it will be obvious, and make your answers seem ingenuine

  • If you have time, record yourself prior to the interview and see if there are any habits (verbal or non-verbal) that may need to be addressed. 

Closing Thoughts

In a matter of weeks, video interviews have become critical to the way organisations and recruiters interview candidates. It’s something that we must all adapt to, and while there is some unique preparation required – the good news is, you’ll find that the interview itself is largely indifferent to meeting someone in person.

Whether you’re looking for more advice on an upcoming interview, a chat about the market, or are in search of new opportunities in the tech space, reach out to me – I’d love to help.