How to have a successful Video Interview
In the last few months virtual interviews have been essential in order for employers to continue with recruitment. The norm has shifted due to social distancing measures and even the final stages of the recruitment process now have to take place online.
How do you feel about virtual interviews?
While there are some potential pitfalls to avoid there are many advantages to online meetings. They can be less stressful than live interviews. If you prepare your set up properly, do your research prior to the interview, and most importantly prepare yourself, you will be well placed to make a strong impression on your interviewers.
We’d like to offer you some ideas and advice that will help you feel confident, present yourself positively and come across well, whether you’re being interviewed live or are taking part in a pre-recorded assessment.
1. Power, connection, and your device
It may seem obvious, but if you are using a laptop make sure that it is properly charged or plugged in throughout the interview. You don’t want to get cut off in the middle of your conversation! Make sure you are in a location with a good internet connection too.
Whenever possible use a desktop or laptop instead of a tablet or phone. This way you will not have to hold the device and risk a shaking screen that will frustrate your interviewers. It will also free up your hands, enabling you to be more animated when giving your answers
2. Be Professional
Try to arrange your space so that there is a good source of natural lighting or ensure you have strong lights overhead and slightly behind. Shadows can make you look strange and your interviewers will want to see you clearly. A plain, light-coloured background is best. Avoid setting up in front of your feature wallpaper, bookcases, or posters.
Treat the virtual interview in the same way as you would a live interview. You need to look as professional and put together as you would if you were meeting face-to-face. If you’re in doubt about dress code check out the company website or if your interview is through a recruitment company, ask their advice. If you’re doing a Skype interview, think about the impression your Skype name will create and make sure it sounds professional.
A practice run before the interview is essential. You want to ensure that you look good, can be seen clearly and all the equipment is working properly.
A huge advantage of virtual interviews is that you can have prompts. Set them just above the line of the camera and no one will even know you are using them.
Practise on your own beforehand, using your laptop to record yourself. Review the recording to see how you come across on screen.
Check out your body language and tone of voice. Do you slouch or fidget? Do you mutter or gabble? We all have habits and mannerisms and you do want to stay natural but just be aware of anything that you tend to do which may not help to create the impression you want. Check you are speaking clearly and at a pace that will allow you to be fully understood.
Do your research well in advance so you have time to embed the information Make notes in bullet point format and keep them where you can see them easily during the interview. It’s OK to glance at your notes for reference if you need to but avoid reading out answers that you’ve written down in advance.
If your interview is pre-recorded check any instructions about the process carefully. Once you’ve started, you are not usually able to rewind or review your answers
5. Pause before speaking
There is often a slight delay on camera, so it is a good idea to wait a few seconds before responding to a question. You do not want a situation where you accidentally end up cutting your interviewer off mid-sentence. When a live interview is under way always be very careful not to talk over your interviewer.
Make sure your camera is set in line with your eyes. If it is too high, the interviewers will see the top of your head and if it is too low your face will be distorted. You want them to be able to see your head and shoulders clearly, so do not sit too close or too far from the camera.
When the interviewer is speaking to you, look at them to pick up on body language signals and when you are giving your answers, make sure you look directly into the camera.
7. Do Not Disturb!
It goes without saying that before your interview you should take steps to make sure you will not be disturbed.
Put a note on the door of the room saying that you’re in an interview and are not to be disturbed. It might also be a good idea to put a note on your front door in case of any deliveries.
Make sure that anyone you live with knows not to disturb you, make too much noise in the house or start any big downloads. Close your windows to avoid unwanted outside noise.
Close down all other applications on your computer and ensure that your phone is on silent (not vibrate).
8. Sticking to the Question
The key to giving good interview answers is to be confident, concise and direct. That means stick to the question rather than talking about something unrelated.
A great way to ensure you do this is to practice using the STAR technique.
The STAR technique is a method of structuring your answers so that all the important information is included and nothing superfluous slips in.
Situation – Give the interviewer some context. Briefly explain the problem you were solving / the project you were working on, who you were working with and what outcomes you were working towards.
Task –Describe the specific task you want to highlight to the employer. This is where you explain what you were doing in particular. What were your responsibilities? What were your goals?
Action – Go through what steps you took to resolve the problem or challenge you were facing. It’s key here that you focus on yourself. What actions did you take? Use ‘I’ and not ‘we’ as much as you can here. Teamwork is important, of course, but here you state what your role was in that team was and what you did specifically. Break it down into chronological steps
Result – Finally, describe what the results of those actions were. Be as clear as you can here. What were the outcomes of your actions? What value did this add to the business/organisation?When you use the STAR technique, you ensure that your answers are concise, whilst still giving the interviewer all the information they need to understand your example and what traits it demonstrates. STAR makes sure you stay on topic
Practice delivering your example answers using the STAR technique until it becomes second-nature and feels comfortable and natural to use.
9. No Googling
No matter how stealthily you think you can type, it will always be noticeable if you’re trying to google something during the interview. In general, don’t do anything that distracts you in anyway.
It will help to have all the information you need already printed off or on a second screen on the desk in front of you, including your CV, any covering letter and the employer’s website.
10. Be Memorable
Finally, while following all this advice, don’t lose your unique self. Above all, you’re trying to convince the employer to hire you because only YOU can provide what you’re offering. There is no need to stifle your personality and become a boring business robot. Think about what makes you unique.
You will need to use many examples of your achievements and your approach to back up your points. Aim to pick your most memorable and interesting examples that showcase your unique talents and abilities. Remember that examples from outside the workplace can be used if they are particularly strong and relevant. Maybe you trained for a year to run a marathon and raised a large sum of money or volunteered for a period of time to help people on a project locally or elsewhere in the world.
Relax, have the confidence to be yourself and smash that virtual interview!