Having an interview over a video call, especially at the first stage, has become commonplace. Businesses are utilising online platforms such as Zoom, Teams, Skype, and Google, and the large majority of first-round interviews are now taking place virtually.
There are various steps you can take to help prepare for a video interview
Before the interview
Just as you would for a face-to-face interview, research the business in-depth. Be familiar with the company’s history as well as the hiring manager’s background. It’s important that you fully understand the job description and are ready to outline how your past experiences make you the best hire for the role.
Ensuring that you have the correct set-up is imperative:
- Find a quiet area with good lighting and position your camera so that it is level with your head, adjusting the angle so you’re looking straight at the screen and not looking down or up. The angle of the camera is important as we have an unconscious bias when it comes to positioning. If you’re looking down at someone it is subconsciously considered dominating, and if you’re looking up you could appear vulnerable.
- Position your computer or laptop at an appropriate distance so that both your face and upper body are visible. The aim is to get the interviewer to see you as if you were sitting across the table from them. If they can see your hand gestures and body language it will be more engaging.
- I often get asked by candidates if they should blur out their backgrounds. If you can, use a plain background in your living room, or a wall displaying a piece of art as this can help to show off your personality and make you feel more real. If you are at home or live in a shared space and do not have an appropriate area to display, then a blurred background is best.
During the interview
Build rapport where possible and take any opportunity to demonstrate your personality as this will differentiate you from other candidates. On a video call, you miss the initial greeting a face-to-face interview offers where both parties naturally engage in conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer casual questions such as, ‘how has your week been?’ They will take it to a more formal conversation when they are ready.
Once the interview commences make sure you keep eye contact with the hiring manager. Pay attention to their body language as well as monitor your own. In terms of interview notes, do not display them behind your screen. It is more obvious than you think and will come across as if you are reading from a script. Have some key notes in front of you but nothing more, you want your answers to come across as naturally as possible. As the interview is concluding, ask the interviewer if they have time for some questions and if not, ask if you can email them across. Make sure they are ‘value’ open-ended questions, this is a great way to differentiate you from other candidates and highlight your interest.
After the interview
Once the interview has ended write down what went well and what could have gone better. If you make it through the first stage, your next interview will most likely be face-to-face and your notes can help with their follow-up questions. Always send a follow-up email thanking them for their time and highlight, if there was anything else they wanted to ask, they can reach out and stress that you’d love to catch up again.
Following these small steps will help you grow and nurture a connection with the hiring manager and put you in the best position possible for any next steps.