👉SPOILER ALERT: This is not another generic article telling you stuff you already know about. 👈
We have all grown accustomed to working in a virtual landscape now, collaborating with your teams via MS Teams, Zoom, Skype or whichever internal video networking tools your firm have been utilising. So we will not be covering the most obvious ground…We won’t suggest that you find a quiet, clean place to conduct your interview. To unmute your microphones. To lock the pets/kids/partners out. To make sure your battery is fully charged and you have good internet connection. No point in telling you all that…Oh I just did! Well, get the basics right, sure. But if you really want to stand out from the pack, you want to be VIP – Video Interview Prepared -, take it to the next level. You want to be leaving your interviewers in awe of how polished your presentation skills are instead of how unpolished your shelves are…
Just because you are so used to having these meetings every day for work, doesn’t mean you should take things for granted. Treat this as seriously as you would an in-person interview.
The importance of a good first impression is hugely important. Did you know that first impressions are made in the first 8-10 seconds of meeting someone? And it is rare that the initial opinion is reversed or changed drastically…So this is absolutely crucial to your success. Normally it would be how you enter the room and how firm your handshake is. This is an issue both online and offline meetings nowadays of course. But my advice is to have a good amount of eye contact, wear your best smile and begin the meeting with some small talk about the weather, kids being off for half-term or if you are feeling extra confident then maybe a nice compliment on your interviewers wall colour, choice of shirt or art on the wall? A carefully placed compliment will do you the world of good and set the tone nicely!
Paperwork & information
Have everything close to hand, the obvious things that spring to mind are; your CV (ask the recruiter for the copy that they sent to the client as it may have been re-formatted slightly or include a summary), job description, company information and most importantly – YOUR NOTES. Being seen to be taking notes is always going to be a positive thing. It shows you are paying attention and that you value certain things your interviewer is telling you. Jot down any questions you have and revisit these at the end of the meeting.
Check the link is working
I have heard way too many times lately that “my link isn’t working”. Sometimes the client may well be to blame, but it is rare. More often it is that your software needs updating or you have clicked the wrong link in the invite. Now to me, and likely to the interviewing employer waiting impatiently for you to log in, this just shows a distinct lack of preparation and perhaps that you are not very computer literate. When you are sent the invite, always click the link, check it takes you into a lobby, then log back out safe in the knowledge that you know all is working okay. I would compare this to checking your route to the office you are visiting the day or two before you travel there. Of course you want to see if there are traffic hotspots, see where you should park etc. This is no different.
Lights, Camera, Action!
If you are one who is all about “the gram” you may be in possession of a selfie light – these are great for making you look your best. If you aren’t a selfie queen/king then natural light is best. I find placing your laptop just a few feet in front of a window the best but failing that, use a lamp behind the screen if you can (not behind or to the side of you, as this will create half a shadow across your face and leave you looking like a scary Hannibal Lector!)
While we are on the subject of selfies – think about the camera angle too. Again, I just relate this to popping into the bathroom while waiting in reception of your “olden days” in person interviews. You would normally have been doing the last minute checks in their mirrors – tightening up your tie, re-applying make-up, checking your hair etc. Just be self-aware and recognise that you want to present yourself in the best way possible. Don’t sit too far or too close, they want to be able to see your facial expressions as this is going to help build rapport and connect you to the audience. A general rule is try to position yourself with some empty space above your head and so that your upper chest and shoulders are visible. A great tip is also to position the window of the video call dead centre and top of the screen, that way when you are looking at their picture it will give the impression of eye contact, which is so important. If the window is off to the side and you are focused off-centre, then it makes it feel like you are not paying attention when they are speaking.
Now I am not talking about the client doing their due diligence and unearthing the fact you got caught shoplifting a Guns’n’Roses CD from Our Price in 1997…I mean try to be looking at what is behind you. If the room you are in is tidy and well-presented then this a good reflection on you as a person. Some nice artwork, perhaps a well-placed potted plant, even a good selection on strategically placed self-development books. These will all give the interviewers clues as to the person you are. Try to avoid mirrors being behind you. I am not a huge fan of fake backgrounds, I think this just gives an impression that you haven’t had time to make the setting tidy and appropriate for the meeting. If you can’t get things exactly how you like then consider just blurring the background.
Just like you would a normal interview, if you are in the lobby a few minutes before the scheduled start time, your interviewer will be notified. This starts things off on a great footing and shows you are keen and professional.
This may be the single most important thing to master. You should maintain good posture throughout, look engaged and interested. Try to use facial expressions to acknowledge certain points that you feel are important. A gentle nod of the head, a well-timed smile and raising your eyebrows at that interesting fact – these little gestures will be subconsciously noted by your interviewers and it goes such a long way for you. Mirroring is the most powerful tool you have during a video call, so copying facial expressions (within reason lol), matching the pace of the call and tone of voice will also massively go in your favour too. Also use short vocalizations to affirm you are actively listening, the occasional “mm-hmm”, “yes” or “agree 100%” etc goes a long way…
Just as you would expect in any normal face to face interaction, the best way to conduct yourself is to allow the other person to finish speaking, acknowledge their comments and then reply in full. Try to avoid cutting anyone off mid-sentence, take a short pause once they finish speaking just to ensure they have completely ended their sentence as there may be a short delay in connection. Try not to waffle on as longwinded answers indicate you do not have the skills to condense and present short, concise answers and this may be a vital skill in the role.
If you think your digital interviewing skills are at the next level, let’s put them to use and find you your dream role 👉 Send your CV to me by emailing [email protected] alongside the role you interested in pursuing and I’ll shortly be in touch!