Navigating interviews online
Interviews are tricky at the best of times, so throw Covid-19 and working from home in the mix and we now have a whole new interview process to get to grips with. Of course, interviewing on video isn't a new thing and those working internationally will be used to meeting prospective employers online.
It’s as difficult navigating Zoom or MS Teams for the interviewer as it is for the interviewee. Where to look, what’s appropriate background imagery and what should you wear, just some of the things to consider.
I’ve put together these hints and tips to help both parties navigate the process more smoothly.
1. Standard Rules Still Apply
Dress like you’re going to a real face-to-face meeting. Not just for practical reasons but psychologically you’ll be in the ‘zone’. Ensure you have prepared for the meeting, if you are conducting the interview, plan your questions and make time to look at the candidate’s CV ahead of the call.
2. Eliminate Distractions
Close the door and windows in your room, make sure your phone is on silent and only have the video platform open on your computer.
3. Banish the Pets and Kids
You know that yelping dog who misbehaves every business meeting? He’ll ruin your interview too. Make sure pets & kids know that the room is off limits for the length of the interview.
4. Find a Neutral Background
More than any other tip, paying careful attention to your background is absolutely crucial. It’s so easy to forget what’s behind you but that’s your interviewer or interviewee’s vista for the next 30-60 minutes. The most common advice is to set yourself up against a completely blank background.
5. Master Your Lighting
Getting perfect lighting for video can be very difficult in a home environment, you don’t want to look like you're sat in the shadows but also too much light and you risk glare on glasses, shiny foreheads or bald spots.
6. Test Your connection and meeting link
You want to allow some extra time to test your connection and meeting link, it might seem obvious but it’s easy to focus on the actual prep and tech set-up and then rush to access the meeting. You may also want to limit the amount of traffic on your broadband network during the interview to avoid lagging.
7. Keep Your Eyes on the camera
It’s a common mistake everyone makes, looking at the person on screen rather than the camera. This means you’re constantly looking down or up rather than into the camera. Looking directly into the camera is as good as making eye contact. If you’re doing your interview on a laptop, you can minimise the screen and place the window under your camera.
Make sure your sitting comfortably, preferably on a chair, ensure that the screen and camera are still, holding your device leads to a swaying screen and possibly motion sickness for the interviewer or interviewee. This is often why it’s best to use a laptop rather than a mobile phone.
9. Wear Earbuds
Whether you are interviewing or being interviewed, if your computer’s inbuilt speakers are low quality then it’s going to affect the conversation.
Practice makes perfect, the more interviews you do on-screen the more confident you will be, so ask a friend or family member to interview you or even be interviewed by you. You may want to record the practice meeting so you can trouble-shoot lighting, posture, sound etc.
11. Get in the Mood to Talk
Energy and enthusiasm are key, make sure these are emphasised to make up for meeting on screen rather than in person. Much like phone interviews need extra enthusiasm, so does a video call. Head out for a walk, get up and stretch.
Remember that the interviewer or interviewee can’t see what’s not on camera, so you can use space around you to your advantage, post-it notes as reminders, a note book to hand in case you want to jot something down that you may need at the end of the conversation.
13. Intonation & Nonverbals
Make sure you smile, watch your intonation, and do your best to build rapport with the interviewer or interviewee. Both parties should be aware of facial expressions.
Have a strong close, if you’re interviewing tell candidates what’s going to happen next in the process and ask them if they have any questions. Be sure to thank them for their time as well. If you're being interviewed don't be afraid to say you're interested in the role and ask if they need any further information from you.
15. Back Up Plan
The internet connection goes down, or your laptop spontaneously updates, are you going to be prepared? Make sure you have a plan B, whether that’s reverting to a phone call or being logged into another device.