As the quality and reliability of affordable video conferencing software and hardware increases by the day, video interviews have become commonplace for candidates and recruiting companies alike.
The Coronavirus pandemic has taken something that was viewed as more niche and forced it into the mainstream. Industries of all scopes and sizes have had to adjust their interview and new hire onboarding methodology. We’re also now working from home on a full-time basis far more often.
But even pre-pandemic, the number of companies recruiting via video interviews was on the rise. Why?
Simply put, it’s faster and more cost-efficient to schedule video interviews vs. in-person.
Financially and geographically speaking, video interviews are fairer. A candidate who only needs a PC and internet connection allows companies to expand their search and gives candidates a fair shot despite their circumstances.
Pre-recorded interviews can be viewed and shared multiple times.
- A good pre-cursor
If a candidate can set up and complete a video interview without any issues or disruptions, it immediately shows their base-line technological skills.
There are downsides to video interviews, in that they can be time-consuming to analyze for the hiring company and may be off-putting to more introverted candidates. That said, if you as the hiring organization is not willing to put in the hours, or you as a candidate are uncomfortable talking to strangers online, you may need a fundamental revaluation of your efforts.
However, if you’re actively applying for work and are expecting a virtual assessment any day now, here are a few ways you can put your best foot forward and not bomb your video interview!
Get your equipment right
Primarily, your audio and visual inputs.
Most modern laptops come with an integrated webcam, so your choice here is pretty simple. However, if you’re using an older laptop with a lower quality webcam lens, perhaps your best bet is investing in an external one.
If you can avoid it, try not to attend the interview using a tablet or smartphone camera. Sure, the quality is there, but holding the phone to your face comes across as unprofessional.
The camera should be looking down slightly to add some dynamism in the shot. Try to avoid having the camera facing upwards, as the result is rarely flattering. You should be lit from the front, as sitting with your back to the window will cast you as a silhouette. Do the interview inside, where you can control the lighting.
As for your audio, headphones with in-built microphones work best for focusing your voice and drowning out external noise. Most smartphone earphones work fine. If you don’t have access to headphones and must use your internal mic and speakers, ensure you’re sitting somewhere quiet and check both work properly beforehand.
Now, do a tech-run through:
- Is your webcam clear?
- Is your audio coming in and out?
- Closeout open programs that may interfere with your webcam or slow your PC down
- Make sure nothing is downloading in the background
- Is my network secure?
- Do a video call test with a friend or colleague.
Manage your environment
Pre-record yourself to test your equipment. Once you’re happy it’s all working, take a look at what appears in your frame. Is the wall behind you reflecting light? Are there embarrassing photos or posters? Are you lit enough? Does it show your dirty sink? Is there a mirror reflecting something?
This is your big chance to make an impression, and even if you’re saying all the right things, a dirty mug or unkempt room may be all the interviewer focuses on. Try to make things interesting with plants or books, but don’t go too over the top. Your efforts to display your knowledge of a firm’s auto dialler software will be for nought if your interviewer’s attention is elsewhere.
Examine your internet speed
A slow internet connection can ruin a video interview, here are a few things you can do to improve it:
- Check your internet speed
There are a variety of speed test websites for you to make use of. You’ll receive three bits of information: ping, download, and upload. The lower the ping, the better. The higher the other two, the better as well. Your download speed will affect the interview’s image and audio. You’ll want at least 8Mbs, anything more is ideal. The same goes for upload speed, which determines how you look and sound on their end.
If the interviewer uses computer telephony integration software to connect more people to the call, you will need good upload speed. Additionally, if the interview is synced with applicant tracking system software, it may interfere with your upload connection.
- Go wired
Plug your laptop or PC directly into your modem with an ethernet connector instead of interviewing over wifi. This ensures it doesn’t cut off and will improve your speed. If you can’t do this, then sit as close to the modem as possible.
During the interview
Make sure you look the part! Avoid white shirts or blouses as they may not show naturally on camera; same for overly black garments. Stay clear of pinstripes or any other busy patterns as those don’t show well on camera either.
Make sure your hair is neat, and your facial hair is trimmed (if applicable). When it comes to make up, often less is more, as your forehead may be too shiny.
So your equipment works and you look good, it’s time to begin!
- It’s good to have prepared notes and speaking points printed out and hidden to the side. This is a great benefit to video interviews. Just ensure you referring to them isn’t visible.
- Speak authoritatively, clearly, and try not to rush. Ensure you leave enough space between asking or answering a question in the event of a lagged connection.
- Maintain eye contact, which is easier said than done over a video call. Resize your chat window to what feels comfortable.
- Make sure to smile and try to maintain a friendly environment. But also, don’t be overtly goofy or laugh out loud at every joke! Don’t get overly fidgety or distracted by your environment.
- Engage and ask questions. Have some pre thought out ones close to hand, so you’re able to refer to them when needed. If you’re interviewing with VoIP companies, for instance, have some queries about their particular tech.
- Lastly, be confident. It’s not an accident you have this interview; they wanted to speak to you for a reason. Know your worth, be proud of your experiences, and show them why you’re the perfect fit.