Dear Sam: I was invited to a first interview for a position that excites me, but they asked me to interview on Zoom! This is a first for me. Do you have any tips on handling video interviews? -Terry
Dear Terry: Congratulations on getting an interview! Your resume and cover letter must have impressed the hiring manager, so now is the time to ‘close the deal’ with a successful interview. Video interviews (via Zoom, WebEx, Skype, Google Hangout, and other video platforms) are incredibly common and have even been pre-COVID. Video interviews also allow recruiters and hiring managers to assess a candidate’s communication skills (verbal and non-verbal), professionalism and preparation. You need to take a video interview as seriously as an in-person interview, and you need to make sure that your digital presence is as polished as your “real” appearance. When preparing for your video interview, keep in mind:
1. Your appearance is not limited to your interview attire.
What you wear for your interview matters (and yes, you need to dress professionally from head to toe, not head to waist). Beyond your outfit, you need to make sure that your username and profile picture are professional. A username that is difficult to read, that reveals your age (i.e. one with your year of birth), or that includes an unprofessional username could make a bad first impression. It is safer to create a new username as close to your real name as possible. Your profile photo should also reflect your professionalism, so choose your LinkedIn photo over the one you use for more casual social media sites.
2. Pay attention to your surroundings.
Your audience will see what’s behind you, so set up a clean, neutral background with good lighting. A cluttered environment could be awkward and could send a negative impression on your organizational skills. You also want to clean the area of personal items, especially any paraphernalia that might be considered controversial. You will also want to notify anyone else at home about the interview so that you are not interrupted. Keep pets out of sight and out of earshot, and be prepared for child care if you have small children. If you choose not to interview at home, you should avoid noisy public spaces, such as cafes. Try reserving a quiet space somewhere, like your local library, as an alternative.
3. Practice before your interview.
Practice beforehand is especially important if you are unfamiliar with the software you will be using or with video chatting in general. Your interview isn’t the time to determine where you should look, if your microphone is working, or what to do with your hands. A lack of confidence in the program you are using and with your equipment will only add to your nerves and could make you appear clumsy or unprepared. Conduct a mock interview with an interview coach or friend, and take it a step further by recording it so you can see how you are doing on video. Your workout is also a great time to check the quality of your internet connection. Avoid using Wi-Fi if possible and opt for a connection to the router with a network cable. At a minimum, avoid using a shared connection during your interview. For example, if another user is streaming a movie, it can affect your video conference bandwidth, resulting in slow or lost connections. By alleviating technical difficulties, you increase the chances that the interviewer will focus solely on you and the quality of your answers.
4. Prepare the ground!
I often advise clients to put a sticky note next to their webcam so that they don’t stare at the screen all the time and instead look at the camera. Encourage yourself to look beyond your screen by placing “cheat sheet” notes behind your laptop or computer screen. I recently asked a client to send me a photo of their interview. It included a box for lifting his laptop from his dining table to eye level, a kid’s magnetic board behind his computer with sticky notes of things to remember and script instructions, and a glass of water and handkerchiefs nearby. In short, she was prepared to succeed, was positioned to add value to her gaze as she looked at the camera and could see her notes, and was prepared if she had a dry mouth, cough, or started to feel the heat of the day. maintenance.
Once you’ve done your best to prepare for the technical and logistical aspects of your video interview, you should handle the rest as you would an in-person interview. In short: research the company and the job description; practice some common interview responses in advance; and be prepared to “sell” how you are a good fit for the role. Good luck, Terry!