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Seven top tips to help you excel in video interviews

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

Although it’s a little slower due to the pandemic, we are still hiring. That means that interviews are still happening, but where they can be, they’re being carried out by video rather than in person. So we’ve put together our top tips to help you get as prepared as possible: 

1. Yes there’s more to think through...but don’t panic!

As you’re in your own home environment it’s likely to be more relaxed and informal than an office environment. That means that in theory there’s also more that could go wrong.

Your children, pets, partner or housemate could turn up in the room. Your internet might stop working or your webcam or device could fail.

All these things seem a bit worrying when you’ve not got prepared - so the key is to focus on these aspects and get your environment and mind-set figured out as far in advance as you can. 

2. Make sure your technology works smoothly

Check your internet connection - is it strong and stable? If you’re using a laptop or PC make sure the webcam is working properly. Tablets or smartphones may also be options - but be aware that it may be harder for the interviewer to see and hear you.

If you don’t feel happy with the tech you have, you could consider asking friends if you can borrow equipment, or even consider renting. If you choose to do this make sure collection and return is carried out in a socially distanced way.

Check the interview details - are they inviting you to interview via an app or a platform that you need to download? Next, check your audio works well with the device and platform you’ll be interviewing through. So as you can focus on the interviewer’s questions you may prefer to use headphones with a built-in microphone.

3. Manage your environment

What’s different here is that the interviewer is visiting your personal space. Your background is as much a part of your personal presentation as what you choose to wear. You’ll likely be working with colleagues from this same home scenario too, so in a sense it’s become part of the assessment.

Find a quiet, private and well-lit place that you can set up well in advance of the interview appointment. Position your webcam or device so you have a neutral background free from distractions.

Think about what’s in shot. Are there personal items, pictures or ornaments that may be a bit too cute or eccentric? Make sure your family members, pets or flatmates don’t have the opportunity to wander into the background. 

4. Adjust your communication approach

The biggest adjustment to make is dealing with the camera. This means both thinking about your eye line, and not getting distracted by seeing yourself on the screen.

If you’re camera-shy then this can be more challenging, but remember we’re all our own worst critics. People tend to see the good in others rather than the flaws we perceive in ourselves.

Figure out the eye line that’s going to work best with the app or device you’re using. You don’t want to spend the interview staring at yourself! Nod and smile to show you’re listening and engaged, and be natural with hand gestures as you would in an in-person scenario.

5. Practice, practice...then practice again

As the famous saying goes “fail to prepare - prepare to fail”. As this is such a new situation it's a good idea to do several rehearsals with the technology to make sure everything’s working.

Ask a friend or family member for a practice call, and find out how your audio, background and eye line work when you’re chatting.   

6. Get organised on the day

Make sure you’re wearing formal clothes from head to toe - you may need to get up for something and you don’t want to reveal your slouchy jogging bottoms or comedy socks! Make sure you present yourself as if it were a face to face meeting.

Check your technology set up one last time a few hours in advance and make sure you can still access the app or portal your interview will be conducted through. Have a pen, notepad and copy of your CV on your desk.

Put your phone on silent mode and close any unnecessary web browser tabs and applications. Arrive at the interview portal or app around five minutes early to ensure the technology is still working well.

7. Always have a back-up plan

Have your interviewer’s contact details to hand in case of any mishaps. If something does go “wrong” e.g. your cat invades the room, your smoke alarm goes off or your internet drops remember to stay calm.

The interviewer will understand that some things are outside of your control - what matters is how you handle it.

If you need to leave the interview to sort things out make sure you keep the interviewer updated as to what’s happening by text, phone or email. Keep your communication style calm and informative and re-join as soon as you can. 

Change is always a challenge, but like anything the more you practice the easier it will become.    

Good luck!