Video Interviews: How to Prepare Professionally

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Laptop and PC home office ready for virtual interview
Laptop and PC home office ready for virtual interview

Looking for a new job in the Autumn of 2020 is a challenging task but it is totally possible. 2020 has been a year of dramatic changes for most businesses globally. New roles are being created as companies swiftly adapt, in response to the pandemic combined with Brexit preparations in the UK.

This year it is not as easy as usual to meet with prospective employers. Many industy and networking events are cancelled. Face to face contact is being minimised because of social distancing to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Thankfully nearly all the population of the UK is connected to the internet via at least a smart phone or device which all have cameras and video functionality built in.

Preparation is key

It is wise to expect to complete online applications and virtual interviews and be extra patient while the previous jobs references are sought. Once you have whipped your current CV into shape it is worth downloading the latest versions of video conferencing software like Teams and Skype onto your computer or laptop in advance.

Many organisations will be completing their search for the ideal applicant entirely online this season. Make sure you also have the programs on your smart phone too as some of this technology is relatively new and works better on the latest mobile devices.

Robert Half’s excellent job seeking blog reminds readers to “make sure your laptop or tablet is fully charged on the day of the interview.” (1)

There has been an unexpectedly huge increase in traffic for virtual office service providers this year. This is because of government lockdowns and official guidance prohibiting busy workplaces which has resulted in millions of citizens working from home instead of commuting into cities and flying internationally to attend conferences.

Expect some technical gremlins

Anyone who has watched news programmes on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 this year knows that even with a team of experts and engineers on hand there will be lost connections and technical hiccups to contend with. If you are not sure what kind of internet connection you have in your home at present, then contacting your provider will mean you can find out if you have the best hook up available or whether upgrading your system to a new router and the latest fast fibre system is possible.

The Indeed website advises sensibly that a key priority is to “Check your computer’s audio is working. Test your computer’s webcam. Close any unnecessary web browser tabs and applications.”(2)

If your wireless web set up is notoriously dodgy, then asking a friend or family member to help provide a quiet workspace in their virtually advanced home or workplace nearby. This simple move could be really advantageous to optimising your job search. Your local library could be another option. Borrowing any gadgets might be a quick way of obtaining the resources you need. There is bound be some glitches and teething problems along the way, as the available internet service varies widely in both in strength and reliability across the country.

Human Resources managers and recruitment specialists will be used to dealing with these minor frustrations in the course of their everyday work matching people to their ideal posts. Experts in dealing with people they will naturally take it all in their stride, so there is no reason to panic if the phone line suddenly sounds like the aliens have invaded.

If the worst happens and you get cut off off and communicating electronically is becoming impossible, it is time to activate plan B. Calmly suggesting a back up plan will allow the opportunity to be taken to meet face to face at another specific time. This may involve immediately re-connecting, rebooting your computer or swapping to a different piece of electronic equipment. Changing over to another video conferencing provider is also an easy alternative, as is reverting to a phone only conversation or rescheduling at a later time.

Make sure you let other people in your household know what time your important call is happening and organise any pets quietly too. Put your phone on silent once you are connected to your potential business partner to avoid any potentially distracting outbursts.

Companies can ask for a video to be made as part of the application process. Dan Mason Editorial manager at Prospects explains that for “for pre-recorded interviews, check beforehand whether you are allowed to stop and start for technical issues.” (3)

Get ready for your chance to shine

A virtual interview in the pipeline is definitely positive news and also the worry of wondering if traffic and public transport will get you to your appointment in time for the occasion is eliminated. However it is worth taking the hour or two saved to prepare for the interview with a close friend or family member. Practice calling each other online and analyse your presentation format. This means what you are wearing and also your home environment that is broadcast by your web camera.

Is your impression completely professional? It is tempting just to get dressed properly from the waist up when sitting in front of your device connected to the internet and your potential new boss. However if you do need to get up and walk about for some reason, to fetch a file or grab a paper tissue for example, you don’t want to be sharing your favourite teddy bear pyjama bottoms and fluffy hedgehog slippers with your future human resources director. Good posture and eye contact are important in video interviews too.

Make sure the camera on your computer is at your eye level and not pointing up your nose or at your pendant ceiling light. Check your head is neatly central to the screen and not appearing so large that you are inadvertently conveying a scary close up of your face.

Pay attention to lighting and use diffused natural light from the front if possible, with some extra soft artificial lighting to emphasise your best features. Consider how to blow dry your hair carefully and a apply a little jewellery and make-up if it assists you putting your best face forward. They say ‘people buy people’ after all, so smile and look as positive and radiant as you can.

Tidy up your office space even if it is in your bedroom or kitchen and keep your interior as clean, modern and stylish as possible. If in doubt go for minimalism over statement décor to keep the attention on you and what you are saying. A smart neckline or scarf is a good idea. Keep in mind the workplace you will be working at in the future, if you succeed in getting the position. Be lead by the company culture as to how formal to appear during your online interview. Good luck!

 

(1) ‘Top Video Job Interview Tips’ Robert Half, Robert Half Job Seeker Blog, 7 April 2020 ‘Top Video Job Interview Tips’ Robert Half Blog

(2) ‘Video Interview Guide: Tips for a Successful Interview’ Indeed 1 October 2020 ‘Video Interview Guide: Tips for a Successful Interview’ Indeed

(3) ‘Video interview tips’ Dan Mason, Editorial manager, Prospects, May 2019 ‘Video interview tips’ Dan Mason, Editorial manager, Prospects