Even before we were all asked to work from home, conducting interviews on video calls has become more and more popular with many companies. Now, for the near future with almost all of us working from home and organisations discouraging office visits, it’s going to be the primary way interviews are conducted. Some people who are great at face-to-face interviews suddenly flounder when confronted with a screen – and others may have promising conversations compromised by a poorly thought through home office configuration. Read on for Kind Consultancy’s tips on giving yourself the best chance at impressing in your video interview:
- Initial Preparation
Find out as much as you can when you’re first invited to the video interview, especially about what platform or software they use – Zoom? Skype? Teams? Ask in advance and get prepared. Many of the most popular options provide tools for your potential employer to host a meeting without you needing to log in, but just in case it’s a good idea to create an account on their chosen platform ahead of time. This will also allow you to run a test call through it, so you can see if your webcam and microphone are set up correctly.
- Your Set-Up
Before the big call, run a practice call with a friend the day before, with your computer set up and placed exactly as it will be for the interview. Have a look at how you appear, check how it sounds. If your laptop is low down and the camera is pointing up at you, it’s harder to maintain a normal level of eye contact – and is just plain unflattering. Consider mounting it on a pile of books or a box so that the web camera is at your eye level when you’re sat up straight. Use headphones to avoid getting feedback from the audio coming out of your laptop – consider using a pair with a built-in microphone to get a richer, crisper tone on your voice as built-in laptop microphones can sometimes sound thin and tinny. Pick an area of your home with good lighting that gives you an uncluttered background – again, the test call with a friend is a great time to find out where the best spot is to be in for your interview.
- Dressing for Camera
You should dress for the video interview as you would if you were going in to interview in your prospective employer’s office – so it’s worth finding out ahead of time if they’re a casual office, a smart-casual office or are expecting a full suit and tie. There is an extra layer to think about here though, which is how certain colours work with webcams. Too much bright white, too much black or any very bright colours will all cause your camera to automatically adjust how it shows you and this can lead to your face being washed out or dimmed. If possible, wear your planned interview outfit for the test call so your friend can tell you if what you’re wearing is having any of these effects.
- Good Practice
If you’ve not spent much time on video calls before, it can help to run a few ahead of the interview to adjust to the medium. Some people can be a little stiff and awkward if they’re not used to being on camera and you definitely don’t want to find out you’re one of those people in the actual interview. Treat it as a normal face-to-face conversation as far as possible, maintaining a regular amount of eye contact (remember that this means looking toward the camera, not the video of the other person) and gesticulation, waving hello and goodbye – try to avoid being a very still talking head.
- In Case of Intrusions
We’ve all seen the viral video of the man being interviewed in his home office only to be dramatically interrupted by his stomping child – and you’ve probably had team calls in the last few weeks featuring some unexpected guest appearances from your colleague’s pets. If this does happen during your interview, quickly mute your microphone (if you’re new to the software, find out how to do this during your practice calls), remove the intrusion, unmute, apologise briefly and get right back to what you were saying. Apologising too much will do more damage to the flow of conversation and your interviewer will hopefully understand that these things naturally happen when people are working from home.
And for everything else, see our guide to interview excellence – almost all of what you know about having a good interview experience still applies, and if you also consider the five points above you can make the most of the situation and give yourself the best chance of securing your next role via video.
If you’re not on the hunt for a job, but trying to adjust to carrying out your current one from home, we have some tips on how to make your time working from home a success.