Congratulations, you’ve got an interview!
But, your meeting is booked as a video conference, rather than a face-to-face, and you haven’t interviewed over VC before. With more and more people working remotely, and candidates and interviewers alike under time pressure, the video interview is increasingly common. Some recruiters use a short “one-way” video as part of their process, where you’re prompted on-screen to answer a selected set of questions, which the recruiter then reviews later. More commonly, interviewers set up a one-to-one video conference meeting. Read on for hints and tips to help you nail it.
What makes a great video conference interview? First of all, check your tech. There are loads of conferencing tools out there and Zoom, Skype, Go-to-meeting, BlueJeans etc all offer more or less the same functionality but you will need to make sure you have:
- Installed the right conferencing tool on your laptop or computer
- Tested your microphone and camera
- Checked your seating in relation to your camera, to make sure you appear in the centre of the screen without slouching
- Have plenty of bandwidth and good WIFI signal
- Familiarised yourself with the controls and know where the mute, video and chat buttons are.
If you haven’t used the platform before, give yourself at least 15 minutes before your meeting to do these basic checks – so that you don’t feel flustered during the meeting if you suddenly need to mute your line or find the video cuts out. Don’t dial into the meeting too early though, sometimes your interviewer will be using one account for all their meetings and you don’t want to interrupt their previous call.
Once your tech is good to go, think about the impression you’re going to make. It’s important that you’re in a calm, peaceful environment where you are not likely to be disturbed and there is little-to-no background noise. If you’re working from home and there’s a chance you might be interrupted by someone arriving back early or unexpectedly, put up a note on the door of your room asking for quiet. Also, think about your appearance – avoid wearing anything that might distract you or make you feel uncomfortable, such as a loose scarf or noisy jewellery.
Dress as you would for an interview, and don’t be tempted to just put a shirt and jacket on with casual trousers – if for some unforeseen reason you have to get up and walk in front of the camera, you’ll be rumbled! Finally, check what’s behind you. Ideally you want to work in front of a plain or white background, with enough light that it’s easy to see your face clearly. Try to avoid too many belongings being visible in the background as it will be distracting and any clutter could look unprofessional.
Of course you’ll want to prepare for your interview in-depth, just as you would for an in-person meeting. Don’t be tempted to put up notes and prompts around your desk, it might seem like a good idea but if you look away from your screen too many times, you are going to lose any rapport you’ve built up with the interviewer and you might appear distracted. It’s fine to keep a notepad by the side of your keyboard, so that you can take any notes you might want to. And of course, make sure you have a drink of water handy. Finally, keep your mobile nearby but on silent – then if for any reason the technology lets you down, you have a back-up plan.
Five top tips for standing out in video conference interviews:
1. Channel your confidence
If you don’t do a lot of video conference calls, then they can feel off-putting, especially if you don’t like seeing yourself on screen. Get past this by reminding yourself that you’ve done your preparation, both on the technology and the content of the meeting, then sit back and upright in your chair, take a deep breath and speak clearly. It’s fine to check that they can hear you, then keep your voice pitched at that level, maintain eye contact and try to relax.
2. Build a connection
With video conference, you do miss some of the rituals and interactions of an in-person interview, such as shaking hands when you meet and when you leave or making small talk on the way out of the building. You can start to establish rapport by opening the meeting by thanking the interviewer for the opportunity to discuss the role further and likewise, close of the meeting by thanking them for their time before you say good-bye. They may also want to ask some questions about your interests outside of work or find a mutual connection, such as a previous employer or colleague – so follow their lead.
3. Take control of the tech
Things go wrong. That’s fine, as long as you take any technical mishaps in your stride. If there are problems with the audio, explain you are having problems hearing the questions and ask if you can re-start the call or continue as a telephone call. If there are problems with the camera, or using video is impacting on sound quality, then explain, apologise and ask if the interviewer would be happy to continue with cameras switched off. Don’t try to soldier on, it will knock your confidence and might mean that you miss questions.
4. Ask questions as well as answering them
Just because you’re on video conference doesn’t mean that you can’t make time to ask questions of the interviewer. Asking questions about the culture of the organisation, what the interviewer is looking for in the ideal candidate, how their career has progressed with the organisation and others will help establish how interested you are in the opportunity.
5. Take your time
It can be difficult for conversation to flow as easily as it does in a face-to-face meeting as you do lose some of the body language that you pick up on in person. Don’t be tempted to rush to answer questions, as you risk cutting the other person off. Instead, take your time and make sure they’ve finished making their points before you reply.
So, a great interview over video conference is much like a great face-to-face interview, but with a little bit of extra work. Follow our tips and you will give yourself the best possible chance of moving to the next stage in the recruitment process – good luck!