Job search, like many business processes, has undergone a “digital transformation” that demands new job search skills. The latest example of this is the continuing trend toward video interviews.
Video interviews are not new. Personally, I encountered my first video interview in 2013. A former co-worker had a video interview in a specially equipped conference room back in 1995. But the trend accelerated during the pandemic.
As a result, I spent time this week talking, on a Zoom call, with a video expert, Gillian Whitney at Video Easy Peasy. Then, I found additional tips on the CGL Recruiting YouTube channel. Here are five tips I gathered that you can implement today to be prepared for your next video job interview:
- Get your interview room ready,
- Set up and test your tech,
- Dress for success,
- Be ready for the unexpected, and
- Create a strong interview closing.
The key to success at any job interview is preparation. You will have to take some new steps in addition to doing company research and being prepared for common interview questions. Specifically, experts say, you will have to prepare your workspace and technology.
Get your interview space ready.
Not everyone had a work-from-home job during the pandemic, so you may have to set up a “home office” for interviews. Even if you have a home office already, it may be a good idea to make certain your space presents the best image for a job interview.
The location where you conduct your side of a video interview need not be a fancy office or studio set. Gillian and other experts I have spoken with suggest that jobseekers avoid using a bedroom or kitchen. A recruiter told me, for example, that he will not hire someone that has laundry or a sink full of dishes in the background during their interview. So, a word to the wise, so to speak, is to avoid conducting video interview calls from your bedroom, dining room, or kitchen. Make certain your camera is turned away from any evidence you are in a bedroom or kitchen if you do not have another space available.
Set up and test your tech.
A closely related issue is setting up technology. As a jobseeker, you probably do not want to invest in professional studio lighting. Instead, Gillian suggests turning your computer and camera so you are facing a window with natural light. Doug Burns, a professional cameraman recommended, on a CGL Recruiting video, that jobseekers use a table lamp with an LED bulb and a lampshade to create a “soft light” when a window with daylight is not available. In other words, your interview space needs light in front of you, and a neat background behind you.
The next step is to familiarize yourself with the technology you will be using for the interview. A job interview is “their” meeting, so you will have to access the employer’s or recruiter’s online tech. This may be an online platform you are not familiar with, such Microsoft Teams or Google Meet. Ask the hiring manager or recruiter what platform you will be using when you schedule the interview. Then, download the free version of the software and get some experience with it.
There are several ways you can test your set-up and practice with it prior to the interview. Zoom has a specific address – www.Zoom.us/test — that you can use to record yourself as you test your lighting, camera positioning, audio, and other aspects of your presentation.
A friend or family member can also run tests with you. For example, prior to my first Skype interview nearly ten years ago, I set up an account, and then sat on a call with a friend as I adjusted audio, video, and lighting. The interview panel moved me to the next stage in their process, so presumably, I did something right.
Audio: Great audio is important. Gillian suggests using an external microphone, and not the mic built into your webcam or laptop because the built-in mics have tin-sounding or echoing audio. Try this for yourself to hear the difference.
Video: Inexpensive webcams seem to do the job. The important thing is to sit high enough so the camera is not looking down at you, and that you have good lighting in front of you. “Cameras like light,” Gillian said.
Dress for success.
Dress appropriately for your video interview just as you would for an “in-person” interview. You may be asked to stand while speaking at a video interview, so fully dress for success. You’ll also feel more confident when you see how good you look on camera!
Gillian says dark shades of clothing look best on camera. If business attire in your industry means a traditional business suit, for example, consider wearing a blue shirt instead of a white shirt.
Be prepared for the unexpected during your interview.
You are on “live TV” during your interview. A characteristic of live television is that you need to keep rolling no matter what happens. Close and lock your office door if possible. Place a post-it note on your doorbell asking that people not ring the bell. These steps can minimize or eliminate external sounds that would distract your viewers. Avoid creating your own distractions, too. Gillian suggests that you minimize gesturing with your hands in front of you while speaking. This creates a phenomena Gillian called “monster hands.” You will see how distracting this is by moving your hand in front of you while talking to the camera. And look into the camera, not your screen at all times during the interview.
Create a strong interview closing.
The traditional end of an in-person interview is to hand the interviewers your business card and then shake hands. An electronic equivalent of your card is a QR code LinkedIn can create for you. You can place this code on the screen for your audience to use for accessing your profile. You can also provide attachments, such as an updated resume, specialized resume, or a portfolio as an attachment in the Zoom chat window.
While electronic “leave behinds” may be a good idea, Gillian discourages using a virtual handshake emoji. It is not good practice, she said, to use an emoji in formal meetings.
You won’t succeed in anticipating everything, but you can be prepared to “keep rolling” and make a great impression on camera.