A few simple tips for a video interview
More and more of us are having interviews on line. Even as Covid-19 related restrictions begin to ease, video interviewing is likely to remain the norm for many for the foreseeable future. So as the Internet loves a list, here’s a list of tips for maximising your chances of success on a video interview.
1) Do a camera test and make note of your surroundings
It amazes me how many people seem to be starting video calls without having checked the angle of their camera first, that they are fully in frame, that the light is adequate and the background not distracting. There are plenty of applications on line that will allow you to test a webcam (or often you can do this within the calling app itself). Poor preparation in this area could give the impression that you are ill-prepared in general. If you can, aim for a simple backdrop and environment that will allow you to sit up and look alert (at say, a kitchen table).
2) Make sure everything works
Not only test your camera but also test your microphone, your headphones/speakers and probably run another test shortly before the call to make sure everything is still working (I didn’t heed this the other day and commenced a call only to discover my camera wasn’t working, fortunately it was a simple fix of disconnecting and reconnecting but it was a little embarrassing). If it’s an important call, not assuming that everything is working okay is a good policy.
3) Have a backup plan
Your Internet drops out half way through, there’s a power cut, your PC crashes… there are numerous reasons that a video call can go awry, so make sure you have a phone number for the interviewer so you can call them in those circumstances. Make sure your phone has enough charge and it makes sense if possible, to install the video calling app on your phone as well so you have an alternative to a PC/Tablet if necessary. If you are using your phone for the video call, have a landline back up if you can.
4) Don’t be afraid to speak up if the technology isn’t working well enough
If you can’t hear the interviewer very well, or the signal keeps dropping make sure you let them know. If not, you could appear to be disengaged or may mishear a question and answer incorrectly. People are understanding of technical issues particularly if they are beyond your control and it is better to reschedule or switch to a phone call than not representing yourself well through no fault of your own.
5) Use a PC and high-quality webcam in a static position if you can
Moving your device for a better angle is fine once in a while but holding your phone, balancing it or constantly changing the view can be off putting. In order to get the best widescreen view you may need to sit further away from your phone, which then presents issues with the microphone picking up your voice. Therefore, if at all possible, use a decent webcam and a PC. Good webcams are relatively inexpensive and can make a huge difference.
6) Use the medium to your advantage, notes, screen share etc.
You would not take or refer to notes in a conventional face to face interview but in a video interview you can! You can keep some key reminders of points out of view of the camera and in your eye-line to make sure you raise everything you feel you need to, as well as some bullet points on how to handle tricky questions. But also, you can demonstrate engagement by having information at your fingertips that you can screenshare. Statistics, example work, reference letters and I’m sure many other resources could be shared with an interviewer. Having documents ready to share and being confident to do so, shows a level of research and preparedness that will impress most interviewers. If you are going to do this then make sure that any applications you have open are ones that you are comfortable with an interviewer seeing, just in case, and that your desktop background is inoffensive. This is also another argument for using a PC instead of a phone as screen sharing is likely to be easier.
7) Consider using a headset
Yes, they might impact your immaculate hair styling but they do minimise the risk of sound feedback. A headset will ensure that you are able to hear the interviewer well in most circumstances and that you can be heard well over its built in microphone.
8) Dress appropriately
You almost certainly don’t need to be as sharply dressed as you might for an interview in person but it’s best to not be too casual either. Video interviewers (or recruiters) certainly will not mind you clarifying dress code prior to a call although I think in most cases this really is not necessary. Just pick something simple and relatively formal and you’ll be fine.