So you’ve secured yourself an interview for a role you really want, but hang on, it’s a video interview? Some may assume this means an easier and less stressful experience compared to the traditional interview process. But while video interviews may have their advantages, they also require a different approach in order to succeed.
Video Interviews are becoming an increasingly common part of today’s hiring process. They are easy to organise and straightforward, so it’s no wonder more and more employers are using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout or Skype for interviews. To help your next interview on Zoom go as smoothly as possible, check out our effective 10 tips for video interviews below. Still haven’t secured an interview yet? Then check out our vacancies and start applying today.
1. The basics still apply
Just because you are in a zoom interview and aren’t face to face, doesn’t mean expectations will be lowered. Employers will still expect politeness, respect and an eagerness to fill the role. Treat this online opportunity like you would any other as the standard rules do not change. You should remember that your main goal is to make a great first impression, and that starts with your attitude. Recruiters will be vigilant of how you speak, dress and your body language, so make every action count.
2. Know what format it will be
Not all digital interviews are video calls, some companies utilise pre-recorded interviews instead. Rather than being met with an interviewer, candidates are given online interview questions on their screens and are asked to record themselves answering said questions. Usually, candidates only have a short time to prepare answers to these questions and have 1-2 takes at answering.
This method of online interviewing can feel impersonal as candidates aren’t offered follow-up questions, so they can struggle to show their personality and give more detailed answers. But don’t be disheartened if you’re given a pre-recorded interview: interviewees are likely to feel less pressure during the interview as they are given multiple takes and the video interview is easy to follow.
Pre-recorded video interviews are growing in popularity but are still not that common as employers prefer to meet and properly speak to candidates before making any decision about hiring them. The following tips are still relevant to pre-recorded interviews as the fundamentals are still the same. The interview will still be watched by recruiters afterwards so first impressions remain determining.
3. Choose your location
One of the most important online interview tips is making sure you’re in a suitable location to be interviewed. No longer are you confined to where the employer wants you, and that’s a good thing, right? Not necessarily, as finding a suitable location will require you to consider certain elements.
It’s imperative there are no visual or sound distractions, that way the interviewer has their full attention on you and you yourself don’t get distracted during the video interview. Make sure anything that could distract you, like a phone, pets or other people, will be absent for the whole video interview and of course, steer clear of public locations like coffee shops.
Your background should be plain, professional and not distracting. A plain wall in your bedroom or office type space should do the trick. Or use a blurring background filter that most video call apps provide. If you can’t find anywhere suitable at home then libraries will usually have quiet rooms and spaces you could use.
4. Set up your shot
Once you have your location ready, the next challenge is setting up your shot. You shouldn’t just open your computer and join the video interview without first checking you are:
- Sat in frame with at least your head and shoulders showing.
- Eye-level so you can hold eye contact and show your interest throughout.
- In a well-lit space but avoiding glare by keeping strong light sources away from the camera.
You don’t want to sound like you’re talking through a 1940s walkie talkie or look like you’re being filmed on a potato, so check your microphone and camera quality beforehand. If you are facing issues with the audio, then try using earphones or a headset to improve the sound and audio quality. If you aren’t happy with the camera you’re using, there are many cheap plug-in cameras you can purchase to make sure you look your best for the interview. Do not use a phone or tablet if possible because it may come off as unprofessional to employers. You also may run into more technical issues as most video call apps are designed primarily for computers.
5. Dress to impress
Just because your employer can only see your top half doesn’t mean you should ditch your trousers and skirts. As previously mentioned, standards should not be dropped just because you’re online and how you dress should reflect how you desire to be seen. Looking professional is key to a strong first impression as you want to convince the recruiters that you are the kind of person the company would want to hire. For 95% of employers surveyed, personal appearance is a major contributing factor when determining whether an applicant is suitable for the job.
Your zoom interview outfit should be something you feel comfortable in and looks professional. Dressing well can also increase confidence, which can make a huge difference when speaking to interviewers. There are some differences between a video interview and a regular job interview outfit, however. To look your best on camera go for soft colours, as bright colours and patterns can look bad on video and take attention away from you and your skills. This applies if you wear a tie as well, keep it simple to avoid any unwanted staring during the interview. If you wear glasses, double-check that there isn’t too much glare on the lenses as eye contact is important to convey engagement.
6. Be prepared for technical difficulties
When you are planning how to prepare for a zoom interview, technical difficulties must be considered. Starting with your username and profile picture for whatever account you join the call on. Make sure it gives off a professional first impression as anything inappropriate will immediately get you off on the wrong foot.
Internet connection isn’t something you can always control, however, it’s still important that you test it beforehand to ensure it will be as strong as possible. Your computer should be fully charged or connected to power to avoid the interview ending earlier than wanted. You should arrive at the video interview call 10 minutes before it starts as a regular interview in case there are any disruptions to joining the call that would make you late.
Part of being ready for technical difficulties is keeping your cool. It’s likely that you may run into some of the following technical difficulties:
- Long pauses between speaking due to the sound delay.
- Talking over each other accidentally, so take short pauses after you speak.
- Freezing, which may cause you to panic but remain patient until it stops.
7. What to do if technical difficulties occur
If your video or audio stops working for whatever reason then don’t freak out. Have a contact number for the company or interviewer to continue the interview via phone call or reschedule the interview if necessary. If a person or noise disrupts the interview then simply apologise and mute your microphone until the disruption is gone. Again, if the distraction is too severe to continue the interview then get in touch with the interviewer via phone. Keep in mind if anything does go wrong that employers will be understanding and it may even be them that has technical issues. Online interviews for jobs are still a new process that companies and candidates are both still working out.
8. Body language
As you will be on camera for the whole video job interview, a meaningful zoom interview tip is to keep reminding yourself to show positive body language. It can be difficult to convey personality and ambition in a video job interview, you only have a brief period of the recruiter’s time, so showing interest through your body language is imperative.
Keep good posture throughout the interview and an interested and friendly face, this will not only make you look more engaged but can also help purvey charisma and charm. When you speak, try looking into the camera and not the person on screen. This may feel unnatural but this will create ‘eye contact ‘ between you and the interviewer, making yourself look confident and attentive.
9. Be prepared for the interview process
As you would for a normal interview, make sure you are as prepared as you can be for whatever is thrown at you. You are at a slight advantage when you do a zoom job interview as you can have notes in front of you (off-camera of course) that you can refer to if needed.
So, have a notepad and pen on your desk and prepare answers to questions you might be expected to answer like, ‘what are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?’ or ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’. This can help you memorise your answers for future interviews or if your mind goes blank you can get back on track quickly. You can even keep any preparation you did on the company or role ready to mention, as that may impress recruiters. Also, keep a copy of your CV and cover letter in front of you so you can easily reference it if you need to.
As mentioned before, arrive 10 minutes early to the call and if you’re applying for a remote job in a foreign country, then keep in mind time zone differences between your country and the employer. If you’re nervous about how you’ll look and sound on the call, then do some online interview practice. Practise speaking to the camera and record yourself to get an impression of how you’ll look and sound to the interviewer and if you’re not happy about how something looks or sounds you can change this in advance.
10. Don’t rely on notes
Although having prompts and notes can be very useful, there is a limit on how often you should use them. Constantly referring to your notes could make you sound too rehearsed and unnatural, which will disrupt the flow of your interview. Employers will notice if you are checking off the camera and may think you are unprepared or incapable of thinking on the spot. So by all means prepare for areas of the interview you may struggle with but use your resources sparingly to convincingly show you are the right candidate to employers.
Following all 10 tips for video interviews will not only boost your chances of getting your dream job but also improve your preparation skills and confidence. Skills which employers think very highly of. Be sure to check out these other Jobbird application tips if you would like to learn more about securing your dream role, and good luck!