Interviews are stressful. It takes research, preparation, and time. And even after all that – a lot of it depends on your personality and the cultural fit, which many hope to express during a face-to-face stage. With lockdown making it almost impossible to have face-to-face interviews, we could be heading into a world where face-to-face interviews as we know it, could become extinct.
From supporting countless candidates and clients going through the virtual interview process for the first time, I have identified and summarised some of my top tips to help you prepare for your virtual interview.
Double check your set-up
Don’t leave it till the last minute to trial out the software, hoping for everything to work. Even the best platforms like to test your nerve, and you don’t need the additional stress right before the interview – trust me!
- Camera and Audio: Log on early to check your camera is working and that your audio is connected. Always join the video call with your camera on as most interviewers will expect you to join ‘in person’. If the interviewer does not have their video on, you can ask if it’s OK to turn your camera off, especially if it is distracting you.
- Test run: To check everything is in order, try and arrange a couple of video calls with your friends/family to assess the video and sound quality using the software that you'll need for your interview – leaving plenty of time to sort out any technical issues.
- Connection: Internet has a habit of disappearing when you need it the most. Connection issues are not unusual, so it’s good to prepare for it just in case. You can ask your recruiter or try to make sure that the person interviewing you has your contact details, or that you have theirs, in case of any technical issues.
First impressions count
It’s not only important to be on time, but as this is the first time the employer is going to meet you make sure everything is ticked off from your lighting, wardrobe and background.
- Lighting: Although it might sound obvious, make sure you are visible and that the room is well lit. You can check this in your webcam set up or by giving your friend a call. If your video is looking a bit blurry, try and give the webcam a quick clean.
- Surroundings: Think about the background you decide to position yourself against – make sure it is not distracting and the area looks tidy, with things like the hanging laundry moved out of the shot ;)
- Wardrobe: Aim for smart-casual, unless recommended otherwise by the employer/recruiter. It is best to wear safe solid and neutral colours, as they are the most camera friendly. Patterns e.g stripes could create visual issues for some cameras.
Find a quiet place
Just like at any interview, you want to be away from distractions.
- Make sure you set up in a quiet place where you are not disturbed and can focus entirely on the employer and the interview. Tell the people you live with that you have an interview scheduled to prevent interruptions, and close the door of the room (and the window if needs be!) to avoid any unwanted background noise so you can hear the employer, and that they are able to hear you.
- Avoid distractions: It is easy to feel more comfortable in your home setting and get distracted by your phone or e-mail. Make sure you turn your phone over or leave it in another room, and switch any email pop ups or other notifications off. It is noticeable when people aren’t paying attention or are reading something else.
During the video call
You should now be all set for a video interview. However, while on the call there are a few things that are important to remember.
- Camera position: Make sure your camera is at eye level to provide the illusion of eye-to-eye contact. If you don’t have a laptop stand, try setting up your device on a couple of books or something similar. Make sure you are not sitting too close to the camera, I would advise staying an arm’s length away.
- Eye contact: To convey impactful body language virtually you should try and make eye contact with the camera by looking directly into the lens, as if you are looking into someone’s eyes. This is likely to feel a little weird, so definitely try and practice speaking at the camera lens prior to your interview.
- What else? Remember the employer can see you – so try to not look down to read your notes. If you would like to have your notes or CV near you, try to split your screen in half to have a video on one side and your notes/CV on the other side. Make sure you aren’t reading during the interview, as this is noticeable, but you can glance at your notes/CV if needs be. Also keep a notebook near by in case you do want to make any notes.
Be yourself and let your personality shine! The employer will try to get a sense of who you are and try to decide if you would be a good fit for their team so even though video interviews can be a weird experience, try to not let this get to you.