As a national recruitment consultancy with an international talent pool, Decipher Group has been utilising video technology for many years as a way of interacting with clients and candidates. Face-to-face interactions have many benefits but when recruiting for senior level roles or positions that are public facing or have a high degree of stakeholder interaction, there is no reason why you cannot complete a thorough and robust assessment of a candidate’s suitability using an online interaction.
Interviews can be stressful enough and things can always go wrong – regardless of whether the interaction is in-person or online. And sometimes adding technology to the equation can exacerbate the situation. A recent HBR study of recordings of remote interviews from around the world (North and South America, Europe, and Australia) found that of the job candidates who were unsuccessful in obtaining an offer, 72% consistently failed to engage with the recruiter in a meaningful way. The consensus was that they did not make an impression because of poor online interviewing skills.
To help set you up for success, our team has compiled some top tips on how to prepare for video interviews.
Lights, camera, action…
Just like you would take the time to familiarise yourself with a physical location (travel time, parking etc), you need to do the prep work setting up the technology for your online interview. Make sure you understand what platform will be used – Teams, Zoom, Skype etc – download and install the platform and complete a test. Sort your interview space – do not leave this until the last minute as it gives the impression that you are unprepared and not prioritising the interview. Find a suitable location and check things like lighting and sound quality. Lighting is a challenge; you do not want it to be too bright as glare can be distracting. There are plenty of online tips for mastering lighting using well positioned floor and table lamps. The general advice is to make sure you are well lit (natural light is best) with the light source behind your device, not behind you.
Above all, you need to feel comfortable and that may mean conducting the interview while standing. Do not be too concerned if you have to wear headphones (earbuds are best), the important thing is being able to hear clearly. Make sure your background is free of distractions and neutral. If you are using a virtual background, then choose something relevant like an office setting. Decide on what to wear (full attire!), dress as you would for an in-person interview. And be mindful of how your clothing choices appear on screen – patterns and bright colours do not come across too well on a monitor.
Triple check the technology
Just a special mention on the technology. Unless you are applying for an IT role, you are not expected to be a tech expert. However, everyone’s time is important, and you do not want to waste it by spending the first 10 minutes of your interview sorting out the tech. If you are a little unsure, it is wise to find someone who can check everything is set up correctly for you – like the internet speed on your connection, updating the web browser, checking data allocation, and completing a practice run with video software.
Practice makes perfect
Using video and monitors, particularly when you are interviewing with multiple people, is always going to be challenging. It is important to remember that the way you appear on screen is not likely to be the same as you are in-person and that is why it is useful to practice. Most online platforms have a record feature so have a test run and see how you project yourself on screen. Be mindful of your pace and corresponding hand gestures. It is important to be expressive but not if that means your hands are distracting and blocking the camera. In terms of positioning, try to aim for your head and shoulders occupying approximately one-third of the visible space in the shot and look into the camera when you speak (not at the interview participants). Avoid looking at yourself – you can turn off this feature on some platforms. It is ok to have notes and prompts handy. Although it is unlikely that you will actually need to refer to them, rather, treat the interview like a conversation.
Variations to in-person
It may feel a bit unnatural at first, but it is important to note that there are subtle differences between how you communicate online versus in-person. The usual non-verbal cues we use can be a distractor online – your number one tool will be your facial expressions. This is how the interviewer will be able to tell if you are engaged and listening. Most online platforms only allow one mic in use at a time, so instead of verbalising agreement with something being said, simply nod or smile so you do not interrupt the other person. Unless you are an absolute pro, avoid using the mute button because it is likely you will forget about it when it is time to speak. It also pays to take a pause before responding to a question and conversely give a cue when you have finished speaking – like a nod or by asking a question in return. This helps maintain an easy flow during the interview. If necessary, explain any extended pauses, for example if you are taking notes or formulating a response to a question. It might not always be obvious to the interviewer why there is silence.
As with any interview, it is all about creating a connection which means bringing energy and enthusiasm to the interaction. And all the usual principles apply here in terms of preparation in advance of the interview.
Make sure to enter the “meeting” a few minutes early and prepare for the unexpected – always be patient and calm if things do go a little pear shape. If there is a high chance that there may be an interruption, mention it early on so everyone is prepared. Above all, be confident and show your true self!
If you are looking for direction and assistance with creating your personal brand to tap into exciting opportunities, get in touch with us. We’d love to chat.
The Decipher Team
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