Video interviews are on the rise! These interviews cut down on time and cost in the hiring cycle. Some of the best employers in Canada are using live or recorded video interviews to screen candidates. According to a 2015 study, top-tier employers who score highest on employee performance, hiring manager satisfaction and workforce planning, were 61% more likely to use video interviewing at some point in the hiring process. Here are 10 tips and strategies to help you prepare for your next video interview.
1. Check your tech
Login online well ahead of your scheduled video interview to check your webcam, mic and internet connection. This will ensure that all goes smoothly once the employer comes online. You will come across as well organized and tech-savvy. Make sure you’re connecting on a desktop or laptop – tablets and mobile devices sometimes have limited capabilities on some video conferencing platforms. A good headset with a microphone is a valuable asset in video conferencing; it will improve your sound quality and reduce any background noise or feedback.
2. Practice with a friend
You know the phrase: ‘practice makes perfect.’ Well, this is relevant for video interviews as well. Ask a friend or a colleague to video chat with you. It will give you an opportunity to test your tech and get their feedback on audio and video quality. This is also a great time to practice communicating in this environment. Speak a little slower than you would normally in-person. There can sometimes be a lag in the delivery of the audio. Use non-verbal cues like nodding your head and smiling – the same as you would IRL (in real life). It will indicate to the other person that you are engaged and listening attentively without interrupting their speech.
3. Check your lighting
Video conferencing can easily go very badly if you are in a poorly-lit room. It makes it very difficult for the other person (people) to see you. With dark lighting, you may come across as mysterious and untrustworthy. Consider moving your laptop or computer set-up to a room with lots of windows. Have the natural light behind the screen so that it lights up your face. If natural light is not accessible, try some strategically placed table lamps or floor lamps. Again, test your set-up ahead of time to find something that works for you.
4. Clear your background of distractions (people, art, etc.)
A video interview is a small portal into who you are as an individual and professional. Keep in mind that the employer will be able to see a few details in the background of your shot. Clear the background of any distractions so that the person you’re speaking with will concentrate on what you’re saying, and not on the cat pouncing around behind you. Let any roommates or family members know when and where the interview will be so that they can avoid distracting you and walking through the background of your interview. Also consider any static items that may be on your bookshelf or walls that may be inappropriate, or items you want to keep private (if you’re doing the interview from home).
5. Prepare ahead of time
In addition to preparing the necessary technology, lighting etc., you also need to take some time to prepare your responses to the interview questions. Video interviews tend to be brief, so answer the questions accordingly in a concise manner. If the employer wants to hear more about something, they’ll ask. Try practicing your answers out loud so that you can hear how they come across and how long each response is. A friend or local employment agency can provide you with constructive feedback to improve your responses.
6. Look into the camera, not your screen
Our natural tendency is to look at the screen during the video conferences. And you should do so when the other person is speaking. However, when you’re speaking, look directly into the webcam. This will give the same effect as if you’re looking into the person’s eyes in-person. This conveys trust and openness. Looking at your screen seems as if you’re engaged in something else – an email or text message from a friend perhaps? Associate looking straight into the webcam with good eye contact with the employer.
7. Frame your face
We’ve advised you on clearing your distractions, and finding the right tech set-up for your space. Now we want to make you look your best. You want to find a distance from the web camera that frames your face nicely in the conference window. Too close seems a little too intimate for a video interview. Too far away makes you seem cold and distant. Frame yourself so that your shoulders and head are in view with a little room around it. Find what works for you and what feels comfortable. When you’re comfortable, your confidence will soar and you will have a better chance of succeeding in the video interview.
8. Adjust your cadence
Try as you might to prevent them, you may still experience technical issues in your video conference. You can be hopeful that this is limited to delayed audio. This is a common occurrence, so adjust the speed at which you speak to accommodate this potential issue. Slow down; exaggerate the pause between phrases. This will help to facilitate comprehension and cut down on the number of times the employer will ask you to “repeat that once more”.
9. Dress professionally
A video interview is still an interview – so dress accordingly. You should be dressed as if you’re attending an in-person meeting with the employer. Dress in business attire. This will help you get into the right mindset, even if you’re doing the video interview from home. Pro tip: take a look at the company’s social media pages to find photos of staff members. What’s the dress code? Try to emulate it and you will look the part already!
10. Turn your phone to silent
Keep your interview free from distractions – for you and for your interviewer. Turn your smartphone to silent, and close any programs that will pop-up with notifications on your screen. This is distracting and comes across as unprofessional. Your phone dinging in the background with WhatsApp, Facebook, and text message notifications is not the kind of environment you’re trying to create for your video interview. Clear all distractions – particularly noise distractions.
Be open to technology such as Skype or GoToMeeting for your next live video interview. Employers may also ask you to use recorded video interview platforms. Do your research, prepare and you will rock your interview!