The use of video interviews has soared during the Covid-19 emergency.  They’v actually been around for many years in some business sectors and many of our candidates and clients may already have some experience.  If you haven’t used video before, you can expect it to become a normal part of the recruitment process for more and more job roles once the current situation has passed.

Whether it’s new to you, or it’s been while since you last took part in one, this First Base guide will familiarise you with types of video interview, what to wear, body language, eye contact and some technical tips.

Before getting into the specifics of a video interview, it’s worth remembering that many aspects of  a video interview can be similar to face to face or telephone interview.

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Preparation

You’ll need to find a quiet location with a good internet connection and a computer, tablet or laptop with a webcam.  If you have children at home because of Covid-19, you will find interviewers more understanding than usual – they may be in exactly the same situation!

What you will need:

•  An internet connection with a speed of at least 1 megabits per second
•  A laptop or desktop computer with a webcam, a tablet or smartphone.
•  Headphones with a built-in microphone or headphones and a separate microphone (there may be one on your device – check)
•  Ideally a quiet, private and well-lit place where you won’t be interrupted by other people, pets or noises.

Note:  When we have our ‘normal’ lives back – try to avoid coffee shops and other communal spaces.

Position your webcam so that you have a neutral background that’s free from distractions and is angled level with your face.  That ‘up nose’ look we are seeing a great deal of on the TV news interviews, isn’t a great one! Remember to close unnecessary apps that might slow down your connection or interrupt you.

If the employer is using their own video software provider you will be sent a link to join the interview at a pre-arranged time.  As for any interview – don’t be late!  If you will be using a personal Skype or Google account, make sure that you have a professional username and check your privacy settings.  If you have any concern about whether your username is professional enough, you may want to set up a new account for your video interviews just in case.

Pre-recorded interviews

Sometimes an employer might use pre-recorded video interviews.  In this format, position your webcam so that you have a neutral background that’s free from distractions.

Instead of being connected with a person, you’ll be prompted to answer interview questions that have been pre-recorded or appear in writing on the screen.  You record your answer to each question and the employer will review the recording later.  There is often a time limit for your answers, and you may be given more than one chance to record each answer.

The pre-recorded format can feel unnatural.  Try to imagine that you are speaking directly to a real person.  Preparation for this type of interview will be especially useful and make sure you anticipate what questions you will be asked and have your answers ready.

What to wear

For your video interview, you should dress professionally, as you would for a face to face interview.  Research the company culture before your interview so you have a good idea of what’s appropriate.
To look your best on camera, avoid bright colours and patterns, opt for softer colours instead.  If you are wearing a tie or scarf, wear a solid colour rather than a patterned one.  If you wear glasses, adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from the lenses and be aware of any reflections.

Position the camera so that you are looking up slightly and centred on the screen.

Body language

Eye contact is very important during an in-person interview and you want to convey that same level of connection during a video interview.  Avoid the temptation to look directly at your interviewer on the screen while you’re answering a question.  Instead, when you speak, direct your gaze towards the webcam.  When you do this, your eyes are more likely to align with the interviewer’s eyes on the other end.  When you are listening, look back at the screen.

Throughout the interview, it is important to keep your mood upbeat and convey enthusiasm with your body language.  Good posture will help.  Sit in your chair with your back straight and your shoulders open. Feet should both be planted on the floor, resting your hands in your lap or on the desk.

When you’re listening, nod and smile when appropriate to communicate that you’re giving them your full attention.  Use hand gestures when it feels appropriate, keeping your movements close to your body.  Avoid fidgeting or letting your gaze drift away from your device.

Practice and set up

To get used to the technology and body language of a video interview, do some practice video calls with your recruitment consultant, a friend or a family member.  Ask them to give you feedback about your appearance and eye contact.  Rehearse a few times until it all starts to feel natural.

Ask any professional interviewer, presenter or speaker and they will tell you that practice makes all the difference.  Set aside time in your schedule in the days leading up to your interview and you’ll find that your confidence will grow as you become more comfortable in front of a camera.

On the day of the interview, review this checklist:

•  Ensure that you won’t be interrupted, either by locking the door or by alerting others that you can’t be disturbed.
•  Clear your desk space; except for a notepad and pen/pencil for you to take notes.
•  Have a copy of your CV and any other notes ready for you to refer to.
•  Have a glass of water ready.
•  Check that your webcam is working.
•  Check that your audio is working.
•  Close any windows, tabs or apps on your computer that you’re not using.
•  Check your internet connection and make sure you’re not downloading anything in the background.
•  Set your phone to silent mode.
•  Check that the background behind you is neutral and free from clutter.
•  Adjust the lights in the room. If things appear dark or dim, think about bringing in an extra table or desk lamp to brighten the area.

All you need to do next is make a great impression!

The First Base team can help you with interview preparation and many other aspects of your job search. Call us, email or contact us on social media.