The coronavirus pandemic is seeing companies around the world change how they carry out their interviewing process. We’ve already witnessed several of our amazing clients switch to video interviewing to ensure the hiring process continues as smoothly as possible, and we're doing everything possible to assist them with this.
As it's predicted many office buildings will be closed and staff members asked to work from home for the next couple of weeks, we’ve put together a handy guide to help prepare anyone with an upcoming video interview.
- Do your research
Just as you would for a normal face-to-face interview it’s important you do substantial research beforehand. This should cover:
- The role
- The company
- The interviewers (LinkedIn is a great tool for this!)
- Any questions you may want to ask
- Be prepared
There are several aspects to preparing for a video interview. Firstly, you need to arrange the environment in which you’ll be:
- A video interview gives the employer an insight into your personal life which they wouldn’t have otherwise had, and although they shouldn’t be basing their decisions on the décor of your home, it’s important to pick a clean, tidy and quiet space in which to take the interview call.
- Make sure the lighting is adequate. Your light source should come from in front of you, as opposed to behind you.
- Set up your video camera at eye level to avoid any unflattering angles. If you need to use a mobile phone for this, place it a suitable distance from your body to include your torso and arms.
- If you’re in a large, open space it might be worthwhile using headphones / ear pods with a microphone to avoid any unnecessary echoes.
- Try to minimise the distractions around you. Turn off your phone (unless you require it for the interview), close all other computer applications and shut down your work emails. Be prepared to ignore anyone calling at your door and keep pets and children out of the room you’re using (we all remember when that live BBC interview was gate-crashed by children!).
As with anything technical, issues are likely to arise when using new or different pieces of computer software.
- Set up the video calling software ahead of the interview – and give it a test run if possible!
- Don’t just assume it’ll be a simple case of joining a Skype call. There’s an abundance of digital calling programmes out there, all with their own set-up / joining instructions. If you haven’t received your joining instructions follow up with the employer or your recruiter.
- If you’re struggling to hear the interviewer at any point let them know. You might feel rude interrupting them, but they’ll probably be unaware you haven’t heard what they’ve been saying – and you could miss out on an important question!
- Along similar lines, it’s worthwhile leaving a second or two between each cluster of speech for any questions the employer may have. As there is sometimes a delay between users' screens this can result in both sides trying to talk simultaneously. If in doubt, take a pause.
- Some computers (and laptops) don’t have a built-in camera. If yours is one of these, and you don’t have access to a web cam, it should still be possible to set the necessary software up on your smart phone.
Keep interview notes of things you want to remember to hand.
- The beauty of a Skype (or similar video software) call is that you can have reminders around you without the other person noticing. That said, it doesn’t mean you should read verbatim off a piece of paper as this will sound stiff and strange.
- If you have a dual monitor you could easily use one screen to display your notes.
- Look the part
It is estimated that if you are not there in person, 90% of the cues we give off are none verbal - therefore looking the part is extremely important. As with face-to-face interviews, we always say it’s better to be over-dressed than under. This is still relevant for a video interview, and although you won’t be expected to sit at your kitchen table in a full suit and tie, a smart shirt or blouse, tidy hair and a fresh appearance will all go down well.
- People will learn a lot from your body language – and this will be hugely evident during a video interview. Ensure you always look engaged and interested, try not to fidget too much (by playing with your hair, a pen, papers, looking around) and avoid yawning. Have a drink to hand in case you get a dry mouth from talking a lot.
- As weird as it may sound you need to try to keep eye contact during the interview. This means looking directly at the camera - not to the side, above or below it (so ensure you know where your camera is!)
- And remember to smile! You need to get the right kind of facial expression, not fixed and grinning, but engaged and interested. It can seem unnatural when you are not there in person so it’s ok to practice in a mirror first (There are not many occasions where you can say this!)
- Active listening
This will help with getting your facial expressions right. If you are actively listening, giving verbal cues to your interviewer will help you react more naturally to the interview, which will ultimately help you smile in the right places and look interested in what is being said. Video interviews tend to be shorter than face-to-face ones and contain less small talk, so it’s important you make a strong impression from the start.
If you have time, practice the call with a friend first. If you record the conversation, it helps you to perfect your facial expressions, loudness and pitch of voice and position on the screen.
If you’ve been asked to give a presentation or explain task during the video interview (as you might expect to during a face-to-face interview) be sure to run through this several times ahead of the video call. Make sure you email a copy of the presentation across to the employer beforehand and have any notes you may need on it to hand (If you have dual computer screens pop your presentation on one of these so you can easily go through it).
We’re currently experiencing very unusual circumstances, and companies are trying their best to adapt to changing demands and capabilities. That said, it wouldn’t be unreasonable as a candidate to ask them for a timeline of their hiring process during this time:
- If you are offered the position you need to know when they expect you’ll be joining them so you know when to hand in your notice.
- The interviewing company may decide to push on with most interview stages via video calls but might decide to hang fire on giving an official offer until they’ve been able to meet with you face-to-face.
- If you’ll be working as part of a team, ask if it would be possible to have informal telephone calls / group video meetings with these people. This will give you a good feel for the people you could be working with, while offering you the chance to ask about the company culture without having to visit the offices.
- Check out the company’s social media channels for further insights into their company culture and the facilities available. Ask if they have a promo video they could send you to expand on your knowledge of the company.
- Be understanding that the interview process may be slightly longer than usual, but rest assured that everyone is doing everything they can to ensure ‘business as usual’.
Treat this video interview as if it were a face-to-face one. Turn up (log on to the call) slightly ahead of time, look professional, ask the right questions and remember to smile. If you’re interested in the role show enthusiasm, thank the interviewer for their time and follow up with any further questions or queries you may have.