Video interviews

Video interviews: top tips to make them work for you

4 months ago by Claire Smith

​As businesses around the world start taking steps to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, many are making the decision to limit on-site meetings. At the same time, nobody wants to put their recruitment on hold, particularly with the uncertainty of how long the outbreak is expected to last. We're lucky that technologies such as Skype, Google Hangouts and FaceTime exist, making video interviews a very easy and effective solution.

So, if you're preparing for a video interview, whether as the interviewer or candidate, here are some top tips to help it run as smoothly as possible:

1. Test the technology

Even if you consider yourself as 'tech-savvy', don't just wait for the scheduled interview time and expect everything to work. Test everything in advance to make sure your equipment is working correctly and you have all of the apps or plug-ins that you need. Does your camera/microphone work? How good is the internet connection in the room that you plan to use? The best way to check these is to carry out a trial run with somebody external, maybe a friend or family member. Remember to turn off any message and social media notifications as these may appear on screen during the interview.

2. Tailor your surroundings

Whilst the technology is incredible, it can easily be let down by distractions, so minimise these before you start. Choose a room that's quiet and away from potential background noise. Hang a 'do not disturb' sign on the door, including if you're at home to prevent any interruptions from the doorbell. Look at what's behind you - you want your background to be as clear and clutter free as possible. Lighting is also important so position yourself in the part of the room that benefits from natural lighting if this is possible.

3. What to wear

Just because you're not having a physical meeting, it doesn't mean that the dress code should be any different. Dress exactly as you would for a traditional face-to-face interview as this will showcase a professional attitude and create the right mindset. Don't fall into the trap of assuming that you'll only be seen from the waist up as we've all seen the disasters on YouTube when the unexpected happens and you need to leave your seat to deal with it!

4. On the desk

As in a face-to-face interview, it's normal to have a printed CV and the job description in front of you to refer to. It's also perfectly acceptable to have pen and paper available for writing notes, although if you can't see these on camera then be sure to explain any silences as you're writing something down. Have a glass of water to hand as well, but eating is a no-no!

5. Maintain eye contact

When the person you're talking to isn't in the room, it presents more of a challenge in knowing where to look and stopping your eyes from wandering. Try to maintain eye contact by looking directly into the camera as opposed to at your photo in the corner of the screen. Make sure that your face is well centred and then try not to move around. Good posture is important and will help with voice projection, so concentrate on sitting with a straight back with your feet on the ground. Less body language information is transmitted in a video interview, but you'll still be building up an impression with non-verbal communication.

6. Voice projection

As well as sitting up straight, remember to smile and speak clearly. This is another reason why testing the technology first is so important as there's nothing worse than trying to tweak volume controls mid-conversation or being too polite to say anything so that you are straining to hear the other person. It's also easier to talk over each other when you're not in the same room, so try not to let this frustrate you and make a point of pausing more to ensure that the other person has finished what they are saying.

7. Closing the interview

As with any interview, end by thanking the other person for their time and outline what the next steps will be. This should also be followed up by email within 24 hours to ensure clarity.

Video interviews take away any stress of travel logistics and are usually quicker and easier to organise than a face-to-face interview, but there are still lots of things to think about to ensure that they are an effective alternative. Take note of the tips above and there's no reason why you can't keep calm and carry on interviewing!

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