Interviewing for new jobs via video has been taking place for many years now, but because of current events, it’s presently one of the only ways that employers are able to conduct final interviews with candidates. In the midst of what has become our “new normal,” I had three candidates get full-time jobs in April, where their final interviews were done using a video software.
We’re going to see more companies approach their hiring process in different ways, even after quarantines and social-distancing measures are lifted. A plethora of articles have come out with advice on how to have a successful job interview via video, but most of them don’t really offer a deep dive into the practice – just a lot of wordy paragraphs with a few tips.
When you’re in a room, sitting at a table with an interview panel, there is a lot less you need to worry about to make a great impression and feel like you’ve nailed the interview. Video interviewing is more complicated. In order to create the best possible list of the Do’s and Don’ts of video interviewing, I collaborated with an expert (via Google Hangouts!) on best, and worst, practices. The expert, Ginny, is a hiring manager who has been using video software to interview candidates for years.
To keep things simple, I’m bullet pointing the “Do’s” and “Don’ts.”
- First and foremost, make sure you research the company and have background information on the person(s) you’ll be interviewing with. Make sure you come prepared with questions to ask – treat it as a normal interview in this way!
- Set the stage – you want a neutral background with good lighting, so make sure to shut curtains or shades so there isn’t a glare.
- Make sure that you’re set up to interview in a larger space, so that it doesn’t look like the walls or background are right on top of you.
- Depending on the video software, you may be able to soften the background, which will make the environment behind you less distracting – definitely do this if it’s available!
- Dress professionally from head to toe in colors that don’t blend into the background. In the past, I would have said that professional dress needs to be from the waist up – but I think most of us have seen the clip of the meteorologist who was caught on air, unbeknownst to him, feet propped up on his desk, wearing a blazer from the waist up and shorts on the bottom!
- Make sure that the area of your home where you’ll be having the interview has great Wi-Fi reception.
- Test out your video connection with a friend the day before the interview, using the same video software if you can. It’s important to ensure that there’s a strong connection and good sound quality.
- Wireless earbuds, or ones with thin wires, are definitely acceptable, but make sure to test those out ahead of the interview, as well.
- Remove anything from the room that could cause ANY distraction.
- Always get a dial-in number ahead of time, just in case there are connection issues with your audio.
- Make sure all sounds and notifications on your mobile phone are turned off.
- Once the connection is established, confirm that the person can hear and see you – they’ll most likely ask the same.
- Make sure to look at your interviewer’s face, because the camera will show that you’re making eye contact. Try to make sure that there is as much eye contact as possible!
- Let them know you’ll be taking notes so that they understand the occasional lack of eye contact.
- If you need water because your throat is getting dry, politely tell them you need to take a sip – normally in an onsite interview, you’ll be offered water or coffee. They will understand, and will most likely will do the same.
- Show your personality – it’s okay to “talk” with your hands or be expressive – but make sure to be conscious of facial expressions.
- First and foremost, don’t have any other software applications – like email or social media – open, because those might make noise if there’s an alert, which will be a distraction.
- Don’t use your cell phone for the interview – if you don’t have a laptop or tablet with a webcam, borrow one.
- Do NOT wear big headphones – I repeat, do NOT wear big headphones!
- Do not type while on the call. If you choose to take notes, do so in a notebook.
- Don’t have a “busy” looking background or messy room.
- Don’t stand up, walk around, or fidget.
- Don’t browse the internet.
- Don’t chew gum.
- Don’t let your cat jump on your desk or sit anywhere near barking dogs.
- Don’t shift around in your chair.
- Don’t look down at your mobile phone.
- Don’t sit in an area where your home phone could ring.
- This should be a given, but once the stay at home orders are lifted, don’t go to a Starbucks or Panera for your interview.
It’s important to note that everyone realizes that schools are closed right now – some through the end of the year – so your home may be a bit busier than normal. Employers are going to understand this, because they may likely be in the exact same situation. However, if your children are younger and are a bit stir crazy, there may be a way to plan an outing for your kids. If possible, have someone take them on a long drive, with the ultimate goal of getting an ice cream treat from a Dairy Queen or McDonalds drive thru. If not, do your best to sit for the interview in a space where you can be uninterrupted.
Lastly, DON’T be nervous! Believe it or not, you may find yourself less nervous because you’re in a comfortable environment – the person(s) you’re interviewing with may be a bit more relaxed, as well. You may even have a bit of extra time with the hiring manager to talk about interests and actually get to know them better. I have to add that you need to remember not to be too comfortable, because that can sometimes backfire. I mentioned at the beginning that I had three candidates get full time jobs via video interviewing – each of those candidates had a great experience, and I hope that the above information helps you to have a great experience and land that next job as well!
Director, Chicago Market