5 Tips to ace a video job interview

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For the foreseeable future, with the world in full or partial lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is highly likely that job interviews will be video interviews.

This will feel unnatural and unconventional to most people and can add an extra layer of anxiety to an already nerve-racking situation. Here are five tips to help you tackle this and impress potential employers.

1. Your remote set up

Essentially, this boils down to having the necessary technology and knowing how to use it. Run several tests with family or friends to make sure your hardware (computer or laptop are best, tablet second best, but try to avoid using your mobile phone) and video software works well and is as high quality as you can get it by making sure your connection is as strong as you can get it. 

You need to be comfortable using the software and be able to troubleshoot if any problems occur. Try to mitigate this by ensuring the software is up to date and you’re familiar with the programmes. Think of it this way – if technical problems occur on your end or you appear unconfident with the video interview process, it can reflect poorly on you.

Importantly, find a tidy, uncluttered place to conduct the interview, somewhere the light isn’t behind you, which can cause flaring and cast you in shadow.

2. The usual job interview preparations

While the video aspect of your interview is an ‘extra layer’, all the usual job interview preparations and expectations still apply. Do all your company, sector and role-specific research; be up to date with the latest relevant news; and find out the names of the people who’ll be interviewing you. 

Have responses to ‘classic’ job interview questions prepared (eg Tell me a little about yourself. What are your biggest weaknesses and strengths? Where do you see yourself in five years? Why should we hire you?) and be ready with some of your own (eg Have I answered all your questions? Who would be the ideal candidate for this position and how do I compare? Who would I be reporting to? How has this position evolved?). 

Don’t leave your preparation to the last minute, be well rested and as calm as possible on the big day.

Dress smartly, it will be expected, wear a suit, all of it! Don’t be like some news reporters caught out by wearing a shirt, tie and suit jacket, but with a pair of shorts they thought the camera wouldn’t see. Dressing smartly is a way to get you in the right frame of mind too, it can help with confidence and sense of purpose. You might be in your living room, but you should imagine you’ve been invited to the prospective employer’s office.

3. The extra layer – you, the camera and behaviour

Have the camera at eye height, so if you’re using a laptop, place it in on top of a pile of books. This will help with all-important body language, something key to interviews but which is largely lost in video calls. It will improve your posture and allow you to hold your head up with shoulders back and to maintain eye contact with the interviewer, vital for giving a good impression, as opposed to you looking down on them and them looking up your nostrils.

It’s also important to speak clearly and be sure your microphone picks you up sufficiently from where you're sitting. You don’t want the interviewer constantly asking you to repeat yourself. Again, test this out with someone beforehand.

As distracting as it can be, avoid looking at your onscreen image. Keep an eye on it to make sure you’re in frame and lit well, but you need to focus on the interviewer as you would in person – maintain eye contact. And remember to smile, it builds rapport and can put you and even your interviewer at ease in this unconventional situation.

4. Enthusiasm and confidence

Whereas in a face-to-face interview you’d project your enthusiasm and confidence through a combination of body language and conversation, in video interviews clear and concise communication is key. Rehearse your responses to interview questions with a friend or family member. You want to convey your self-belief and suitability to the interviewer, so being confident in what you have to say needs to shine through. Remain professional, stay relaxed, keep calm and you will answer the questions accurately.

5. Don’t panic

No matter how prepared you are for a video interview, there are factors out of your control that could be disruptive, but how you handle them and continue your interview can be impressive. For example, there may be a signal delay between you and the interviewer. It’s fine to acknowledge this with them as they’ll likely be experiencing it too. Stay calm, adapt and work together to continue to answer the questions as best you can. Remember that the interviewer wants to draw the best out of you and for you to give a good interview.

Good luck!

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