It’s already a stressful and difficult time, and there are thousands of nervous candidates out there who mightn’t have video interviewed much before coronavirus. If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager, feel free to pass these best practices along, to help your candidates put their best foot forwards.
Maybe you’ve never had a video interview before. Or maybe you’ve had a video interview but only as an early stage precursor to (hopefully!) being invited for a face-to-face meeting.
Increased demand means many employers are hiring in unusually high volumes (for example, we’ve seen a 3900% increase in job applications to our food retail clients) and they’re often using video interviewing to replace face-to-face interviews entirely.
That means a video interview is often your only chance to shine.
Tribepad provide recruitment software to many of the most successful companies in the world, so we know a thing or two about video interviewing. Here are some best practices to make sure you do yourself justice.
It’s an incredibly difficult and uncertain time right now. Many people find themselves in a worrying financial situation, and you might feel there’s more than usual riding on getting the job you’re interviewing for.
It’s crucial to try to keep your anxiety levels under control though, because increased anxiety is so often counterproductive to interview performance.
Although social distancing takes some go-to stress busters off the table, there’s still plenty that can help.
Try to get plenty of sleep the few days before your interview, for example, and limit your booze and caffeine intake. Deep breathing is often useful, and positive visualisation.
Most important, try not to amp up the pressure on yourself. Promise yourself you’ll do your best (this article will help!) because that’s all you can do. Cross the next bridge if it comes.
You wouldn’t attend a face-to-face interview without preparing thoroughly. A video interview calls for the same dedication (and preparation helps manage anxiety, so it’s win/win).
Your interviewer will most likely use your application info and/or CV as their starting point so start here with your prep. Don’t regurgitate – use the info you’ve provided as a leaping-off point, then add more colour and detail.
For instance, make sure you can confidently chat through each job you’ve had, giving specific examples of your work, achievements and challenges.
When you’re preparing and interviewing, it’s helpful to have both your CV and the job advert in front of you. That way, you can map your answers back to specific requirements the recruiter’s looking for.
Think about your transferable soft skills too, especially if you’re interviewing in a different sector or industry.
Fantastic communication skills, for instance, are valuable for many employers and aren’t industry specific. The same’s true of many skills you have.
Highlight genuine areas where your values align
During your prep, you should also check the employers’ website, careers page and social media presence, to get a sense of their culture and values.
You might be interviewing in multiple places but there’s few bigger turn-offs for employers than feeling they’re just a number on a list.
Proving you’ve done your research and applied because you’re genuinely interested in the company will boost your chances of making a great impression.
For example, maybe you’re especially excited about Company X because sustainability is one of their major values, and that’s something you’ve long been passionate about. Or maybe you’re excited by their explosive financial growth because you’re ambitious and want to be part of their success story.
Be concise but comprehensive
When you video interview, your answers should be concise and to-the-point. That doesn’t mean short or lacking detail – it means no waffle.
The temptation’s especially strong when you’re recording a video interview answer (like with Tribepad’s one-way interviewing platform), because there’s not a physical recruiter in front of you acting as a social cue to stop talking.
Preparing well will help you organise your thoughts so you can formulate concise but comprehensive answers.
Don’t be afraid of silence
Preparation is super important, yes. But don’t make the mistake of over-relying on that prep. You don’t want to regurgitate your ‘revision’ instead of answering the question you’ve been asked.
In a video interview, every moment can feel like minutes – but that’s your perception, not the reality. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to take a moment to pause and think through your answer before replying.
It’s much better to pause, or admit to being unsure, than to blag an answer. Recruiters are humans too (Shock! Horror!) – they don’t expect you to be superhuman and have all the answers instantly and perfectly.
Speak clearly and slowly
If you’re interviewing through our one-way video interviewing platform, your recruiter has already prepped questions; you just record your answers. This avoids the whole lag issue but it’s still important to remember you’re recording audio, which can be harder to understand than face-to-face conversation (especially if you’re using your computer microphone).
For all video interviewing, be conscious of enunciating clearly and speaking slowly (especially since when we’re nervous, we typically speed up and don’t breathe properly).
Hint: make sure you’ve got a glass of water within reach, in case you get a sore throat or dry mouth. And if you need to cough or sneeze, turn away from (or mute) your audio.
Try recording yourself and listening back – you’ll almost always be speaking much faster than you think. Slow down! And take regular breaths after you finish sentences. It might sound obvious but it really does help.
Show. Don’t tell.
We talk to recruiters all day, every day so we have heaps of insight into what makes a great interview – and what recruiters wish their candidates would stop doing.
One common mistake jobseekers make is repeating the job description instead of sharing practical examples.
Like, say you’re interviewing for a role as a supermarket customer assistant and the advert says you’ll need exceptional customer service skills. It’s tempting to say something like, “customer service is one of my biggest strengths” – but all that does is prove you’ve read the job ad.
A much stronger answer gives specific examples of when you’ve demonstrated those skills.
Like, “customer service is one of my biggest strengths. For example, in my role with Company X, a customer was angry because her delivery hadn’t arrived. I sent her parcel via same-day courier for free, and she’s since become one of our most loyal customers”.
The idea is, be as specific and tangible as possible.
Look the part
Wear something similar to what you’d wear to a face-to-face interview – something smart and professional. (And don’t even think about PJ bottoms with a smart top… yes, we’ve heard it happens!)
As with face-to-face interviews, you don’t want to be remembered for your outfit choices more than your personality. Smart neutrals are always safe.
For video interviews, it’s especially important not to wear anything ‘loud’ – like vibrant patterns or statement jewellery that might distract from your face.
If you wear make-up, you might consider checking how you’ll appear on your camera set-up before the interview. You may want to adapt your make-up slightly for the screen, to give the appearance you feel most comfortable with.
And be aware of your posture and facial expressions. Be animated; smile often; sit up straight.
Make eye contact with your camera
In a great face-to-face interview, you create rapport with your interviewer. The same’s true with video interviewing.
Eye contact is especially important – but for the purposes of video interviewing, remember your camera is the interviewer.
Looking directly at your camera makes direct eye contact. Not looking at the image of the interviewer on your screen, which often won’t be central or correspond exactly with the actual interviewer’s position.
Check your video position beforehand. You might need to prop up your laptop or phone so you’re looking at the camera straight on, like a face-to-face conversation. Nobody particularly wants to see up your nose!
Do a tech rehearsal
The recruiter or hiring manager should send you details of the video interview – including the tech you’ll be using – in good time (and if not, ask them!).
For example, do you need to click on a link (like with Tribepad)? Download anything? Set-up a profile?
Before your interview, make sure you know exactly what you’ll need to do, and double-check your camera and microphone are working. You’ll have the best chance at acing your interview if you’re in a relaxed headspace. Last-minute tech mishaps are likely to stress you out and make you flustered.
Choose your location carefully
One of the big benefits of video interviewing is that you can interview anytime, anywhere. But that doesn’t mean anywhere goes.
Unlike face-to-face interviews, video interviews give you control over the background and context around you. For better or worse, that background and context also form part of the impression you give recruiters.
Imagine you’re a recruiter interviewing two candidates. They both seem equally great – but one is sat at a table with a plain wall behind them; the other is sat on a sofa covered with mess with the living room behind them, looking like a bomb’s gone off.
The latter isn’t any less capable and perhaps it’s unfair, but the latter has given the recruiter a reason to subconsciously negatively judge them.
Think about lighting too – the brighter the room, the better the interviewer can see you and the easier it’ll be to build rapport. It’s also important to choose somewhere quiet, where you won’t be interrupted. We’ve all seen this.
Final words and a quick recap…
Here’s a quick recap for you. If you’ve got a video interview coming up:
- Don’t panic!
- Prepare thoroughly
- Highlight genuine areas where your values align
- Be concise but comprehensive
- Don’t be afraid of silence
- Speak clearly and slowly
- Show. Don’t tell.
- Look the part
- Make eye contact with your camera
- Do a tech rehearsal
- Choose your location carefully
The fact is, we’re already seeing a massive uptick in employers using video interviewing. And the longer social distancing measures are in place, the longer that’ll be the case.
If you haven’t had many video interviews before, that can add anxiety to an already nerve-wracking situation. Hopefully these best practices prove video interviewing isn’t too far different from a normal interview, and you’re more than capable of doing a great job.