By Ray Huizenga
Virtual interviewing has been around for a while, but because of COVID19 it has become pretty much the only way early career professionals are interviewing. Because everything is virtual, people are rarely getting in person interviews, even when they get to the finalist round.
Many of the goals of an interview are the same whether they are being conducted in person or by video. Either way, a good interview is one where you are fully prepared to tell your story, to connect your story to the job description, you can make a strong connection to the person interviewing you, and demonstrate your interest in the company. The hiring manager should leave the interview believing three things:
1. You can do this job,
2. You can grow with the company, and
3. You are someone who they would enjoy working with.
We work very hard with our clients on being fully prepared to accomplish these three objectives. What is new, or at least more prevalent, is the video environment they are using to get these points across.
The most prevalent mistakes in video interviews revolve around bad technical setups, unprofessional settings/presentation, and/or not paying enough attention to how you make personal connections when you are conducting a video interview. Here are some ways we help our clients nail the video interview:
Remember visual impact is key: Sometimes we forget how important this is because we confuse a video call with a phone call. You are still showing up visually and studies have shown that whether it is in person or video, the visual impact of what the interviewer is seeing is the first thing they judge a candidate on. If they judge it to be unprofessional, it will affect how they hear the quality of your answers. So now you are managing the visual impact of your personal presentation and the surroundings you are connecting from.
Here are ways to make your video presentation strong:
- Make eye contact. This is not as simple as it sounds because the camera is the eye, not the picture. I encourage clients to tape a smiley face up next to the camera, and then remember to look at it frequently
- Remember to Smile. This will add personality and energy to the conversation.
- Use gestures to make your points more effectively.
- Sit in a power position. You can check Amy Cuddy’s TedTalk for how to do this.
- Dress professionally, one step up in attire is better than one step down.
- Establish a professional looking physical environment. Make sure your “office” is well lit, clean, and has a good camera view of you. Have a glass of water for yourself and paper and pen. If you are going to be doing a lot of interviews, consider investing in one of the many brands of lights that can go on your computer to create a brighter picture.
- Stay away from virtual backgrounds unless you are stuck and have no other viable choice – and in this case pick the most professional one available (in other words – stay away from the beach background.
- Technology check: I can’t tell you how many times that there have been technology issues in our mock video interviews with clients. This includes both the actual technology and the connectivity.
Important technology tips:
- Unless there is some unexpected glitch to your location – do your interview on a computer v. phone. Only use phones if you can have them free standing and at the right elevation and distance from you. Handheld is not professional.
- Earphones are very helpful in improving your audio.
- Confirm connectivity to internet ahead of time
- Often interviewers will not want to interrupt you if the connection or audio is bad. Always ask if they can hear and see you at the beginning. Often bad connections can be improved just by hanging up and trying again.
- Do a dry run of your setting and your technology. Ask a friend or family member to do a zoom connection with you so you can see what you and your setting look like on camera. Whether you are a college student or an alumnus you can ask your college’s career development office to do a mock interview with you via video.
Remember! Still Send A Thank You
It doesn’t matter if you are being interviewed over the phone, by video, or in person, within 24 hours you get an email out to the interviewers thanking them for their time and for helping you understanding the role more clearly, restating that you are confident that you can do this job and grow with the company, and you look forward to hearing from them regarding next steps.