Skype, Zoom, Teams…. video interviews are becoming the new normal.
For the rest of this year at least, and no doubt going forward too, employers will be using video interviews to recruit staff. Many of the big firms were doing so before the pandemic, using video technology to screen candidates early on in the recruitment process, so it’s very likely that this format is here to stay, but with the addition of live video interviews replacing a traditional face-to-face one.
At the early stage of the recruitment process you may be asked to log onto a site and answer a set of pre-recorded questions, or complete a virtual assessment. These usually have a time-limit and you may even be given the questions in advance. If you are short-listed to the next stage, you can expect a live interview with real people. If it sounds a daunting prospect, it needn’t be. Here are some top tips to help you prepare.
Make sure you feel confident with the technology
Give yourself plenty of time to familiarise yourself with the video application the interviewer wants you to use and make sure everything is working properly. Check your internet connection make sure your audio and webcam are switched on. Have a practice run through with a friend or family member to double check.
Have a back-up plan if things go wrong
Is the employer calling you at a specified time? Check you know who is calling who. It’s always a good idea you have their phone number too, just in-case technology fails. If you are doing a pre-recorded interview or task, don’t leave it until the last minute. If a problem arises, you may need time to contact them.
Prepare your surroundings
Find a quiet, private and well-lit space and position your webcam so the background is as neutral and tidy as possible. Check what the interviewer will see. You want to convey a professional impression so avoid sitting in front of anything that might be a distraction or might be considered embarrassing or offensive. And can you be seen clearly? Natural light is usually best but you may need to adjust the lighting to reduce any glare.
Make sure your desk or table is clear and your chair is at the right height. Have a glass of water to hand. Do you need to adjust the angle of your webcam? If you practice with a friend they can tell you whether anything needs adjusting.
Avoid interruptions and background noise
It can be hard if everyone in your household is at home but let everyone know you are having an interview so background noise can be avoided and no-one interrupts you by mistake. Do you need to organise childcare or a dog-sitter? Close any unnecessary web browser tabs and applications with audio notifications and remember to put your phone on silent.
Treat your interview just as you would a traditional face-to-face one. Your clothes and appearance need to look tidy, clean and professional, and just in case you need to stand up for any reason, remember your entire outfit needs to be appropriate. There is always a lot of debate about interview clothes and how formal they should be. We always suggest you research the culture of the company, so your choice of clothes shows that you would fit in. Indeed.com/careers advice has some useful advice on colours and how they can appear on camera.
Body language in a video interview is also just as important as it is in person. You want to convey a personable and confident impression so avoid the temptation to slouch or fidget. Wherever possible look at the camera rather than the screen so you make eye contact with the interviewer. It can feel a bit strange at first so try and practice. Sometimes hiding the image of yourself can help! Totaljobs.com has some great advice on clothes, body language and general etiquette to follow in a video interview.
Perfect your interview skills
When it comes to answering interview questions, a video interview isn’t any different. Interview skills can be perfected and the more you are able to anticipate likely questions and practice your answers, the more confident and articulate you will come across. Current students can take a look at our interview skills resources on the My.Cumbria pages . You can also book a practice interview via phone or Skype on My Career Enriched.
If you are a student with a disability or health condition, you may find our resources on requesting reasonable adjustments during the interview process useful too. Click here for information.