Video interviews – my top tips for coping with the new job interview

We know the workforce won’t be rushing back to offices any time soon if it’s possible to work from home, but what impact will this have if you’re job hunting? The most obvious effect will be on the interview process, which is more than likely going to include a video interview.

I’ve written before with some tips about automated video interviews which are often used for recruitment to graduate schemes, but what most candidates will be facing for the foreseeable will be interviews with real people via Zoom, Skype or Teams.

Many of the tips about the interview itself in my blog on the 10 secrets of interview success, including researching the organisation and how to handle tricky questions, still stand, but here are some extra things to think about to help you ace video interviews.

Practise makes perfect

You want to look (and feel) confident during your interview, so start with the basics and practise with the chosen platform.

Recruit a friend or relative for a session where you can play with the buttons – especially important is making sure you can turn on the camera and microphone, as well as being able to leave without giving the interviewers a view of your nostrils as you try to figure out what to click!

Ask for feedback on how loud you’re speaking, and practise looking directly down the camera if you can. It can help to position the box with the other people in directly underneath your camera, so you still get a sense of talking to people rather than yourself!

Most platforms automatically highlight the person speaking as the largest on your screen, so play around with different views and layouts until you’re happy with the way you want it to look.

Don’t be afraid to be natural with your body language and hand gestures as this helps you to come across more genuinely. If you sit at the right distance from the screen – about arm’s length – your top half will be visible (not just your face) so the interviewers can read body language while you speak.

Don’t forget to dress for the job you want

You might not need to wear a suit for your interview, but thinking about what to wear for your video interview is an important bit of preparation. What would make you feel confident? What would fit with the job you’re applying for and style of the organisation? Try to aim to be a level up in the smart stakes. So if people in the organisation tend to wear open-necked shirts, you could wear a nice shirt and a blazer. For a woman that could be a nice top with good jewellery.

Test your outfit on a friend via video to make sure it looks as good on screen as it does in real life. Remember you have to be able to sit down in it comfortably for an hour, so test out you can manage that too! The interviewer might not mention what you’re wearing, but they will definitely notice you’ve made an effort.

Look behind you

While practising, take the opportunity to have a look at what’s behind you in the video. Ideally, you’d find a plain wall to sit in front of, but if that’s not possible assess what the interviewers will be seeing and decide whether you want to make some changes.

It might be as simple as removing family photos or tidying a bookshelf, but you don’t want to feel uncomfortable about the assumptions your interviewers might make based on the glimpse they will get into your personal life.

Pick your video interview platform

You can access all of the usual video call software either through a laptop or a phone. Make sure you’ve decided which you want to use, as the layout and other features do change from mobile to desktop version.

If you plan to use your phone, use a holder or find somewhere to prop it up so that you don’t have to hold it. Figure out where the camera is and know that you might need to rotate your phone sideways for the best experience for your interviewers.

Take the opportunity for prompts

One of the advantages of video interviews over the in-person version is the opportunity to have prompts available.

The least obvious way to do this is to stick post-it notes around your screen – making sure not to cover the camera! – with key words, facts or figures on that you might want to refer to. Keeping them close to the camera will make it less obvious that you’re glancing at something than if you have notes on your desk and keep looking down.

The start and end of your video interview will probably be awkward – and that’s okay!

There’s always that awkward moment at the start of a video call when someone can’t be heard, or the camera isn’t in the right position. The interviewers will have seen it many times before, so don’t sweat if you have some minor technical issues at the start. Use it as a chance to make light of the situation and build some rapport, rather than letting it throw you off your stride.

As with all interviews, if you’re worried about being nervous you could use Amy Coddy’s power poses to help calm your nerves. I highly recommend watching her full Ted Talk on the science behind your body language and always have a big glass of water to hand

For an informal chat about how I can help you with your next step on the career ladder – even if that includes coping with video interviews! – give me a call on 07765 894040 to arrange a free chemistry session.


Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

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