The New World
With first acknowledgement that the last few months have been an extremely difficult time for employees and employers and The Recruitment Lab sends best wishes to everyone out there. If this time is going to have any sort of productive legacy though it could well be in the profligacy of the video meeting.
Applications such as Zoom, Google Hangout and Skype (others are available) have been invaluable for staff to keep in contact and meet whilst working at home.
With their success, and adoption by almost every company out there, it seems their use will not end once offices reopen their doors.
Does that mean we’re set to see them being used as an interview method beyond the current pandemic?
It’ll be a new experience for many, and a trying one for some. Here’s our guide to nailing that video interview and landing that lockdown job.
When Video Interviews Are Used
In the current climate, you can expect to be offered a lot more interviews over a video conferencing tool or over the phone. This then may proceed onto something in person or not.
It simply gives an employer the chance to get as close to a face-to-face interview as possible.
Because you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home in order to attend a video interview it may mean that you feel a little more confident given that you’re in familiar surroundings.
However, it does mean you can’t scope out your potential new place of work and see the work space and surrounding area.
It also means that there could be more competition for the role you’re going for as the amount of cancellations or no-shows decreases.
A recruiter is still more likely to do an initial screening over the phone rather than video but a company could have doubts over putting you forward for a more formal interview if your approach to a video call isn’t correct so it’s worth obeying the below at all times.
What to Expect in a Video Interview
Video interviews tend to be easier to predict than their face-to-face, and especially group, counterparts. It’s likely that you’ll be screened by one person, or perhaps two, and that the interview will be somewhere between 20 and 60 minutes in length.
You may well be briefed on possible questions before the call but, if not, expect to be asked the usual interview-styled questions:
- About you, your experience, CV, future aspirations and interests and what interests you about the role, etc.
- About the company, what they do, their competitors, what the role will entail, etc.
- About specific skills or qualifications needed to fulfill the role effectively, about salary expectations and start date, etc.
- The dreaded ‘have you got any questions for me’ bit (we’ll come to that later.)
The Dos and Don’ts
As daunting as the prospect can seem, a video interview has a fairly simple ‘guide book’ of rules:
Be confident. The first point is the same for any interview: you’ve got to be confident and be yourself. Nerves are absolutely normal and expected but you’ve got to channel those as best you can.
Be presentable. So the interviewer can’t see what’s happening off screen so by all means keep those tracksuit bottoms on but, up top, make sure you’re dressed appropriately. This may be something briefed beforehand but always look to be as smart as possible.
Also make sure your lighting is good and you’re sat somewhere ‘professional.’ With the amount of video calls happening at the moment the interviewer won’t be surprised to see your bedroom in the background but we’d recommend sitting somewhere with as plain a backdrop as possible. A clear wall, window or something to that effect is best, and don’t use an interactive background.
Don’t ‘over talk.’ Nerves can often make people overthink and over talk: Try not to if you can! It’s a tough balance to give the right length of answer but if you find yourself steering into unnecessary or negative terrain just stop. If you worry about seeming abrupt, steer the conversation back by asking a question, perhaps one that relates to your answer.
Open well. First impressions are just as important when on a video interview. You’ve still got to set off on the right foot and establish a quick rapport.
Assuming you’re receiving the call starting with a “good morning/afternoon/evening _____ [insert name of interviewer] thanks for your time today” or something to that effect strikes the right note of formality. Ensure you thank the interviewer for their time and ask after their day. Professionalism is absolutely key.
It’s important to be as clear as possible, especially when unpredictable factors like internet connection come into play. Don’t speak too fast and keep polite. Informal language is definitely a no-no, as is swearing of course. And, as in any interview, keep positive.
Have your CV and company notes. Whilst you are afforded a little more freedom with a video interview, and can have resources to hand out of picture, it’s important to prepare in the same way as you would with an in person appointment. Research the company and the role you’re applying for by looking at the company website, the job specification, LinkedIn profiles, social media, GlassDoor and other appropriate sources.
You also must know your CV inside out. It sounds like silly advice but, often, an interviewer will ask specific questions about an element of your CV. It’s important to read it through, know what you’ve written and be able to back it up with detailed examples. All of your experience can be channeled as valuable, so never speak about a previous employer negatively. Fit your work to the role you’re applying for.
Have a question/s prepared. The dreaded time arrives when you need to ask a question and you can’t think of anything, or questions that you did have written have already been answered. What do you do? Don’t panic, an easy ‘get-out-of-jail-free-card’ is to say to the interviewer: “I think you’ve answered all the questions that I have but is there anything else you want to know about me at this stage?”
If you want to ask a question, try not to invade on the question of salary or progression opportunities. Remember, as much as you hopefully want to stay in the company long-term, you’re applying for a specific role. Perhaps ask something about the team dynamic or things the interviewer thinks make the company a great place to work. If you’re feeling cheeky, asking if there’s anything else they need to know for you to secure the role can be a good trick to have up your sleeve (but can backfire depending on the interviewer in question!)
In A Nutshell
- Stay professional.
- Look professional.
- Prepare thoroughly.
- Make sure your laptop is charged and you’re in a quiet area with as strong an internet connection as possible.
- Have useful notes to hand.
- Thank the interviewer for their time and build a rapport through small talk.
- Swear or use inappropriate/negative/informal language.
- Interrupt the interview or talk over them.
- Eat, smoke or drink (unless you take a quick swig of water at an appropriate moment.)
- Conduct the interview with any distractions around you: switch off the television/radio and make sure no one else is in the room.
- Forget that there will still be competition for the role, make sure you take it seriously.
Job seekers have a tough time of things at the best of times, and losing the intimacy of a face-to-face interview process, the chance to build rapport and, crucially, see the environment that you’ll be working in, is a small but significant loss to the recruitment world.
However, the video interview has some easy rules to accommodate for and, actually, may give job seekers a better shot at getting a role that they’ve applied for given the shorter process.
Hopefully this blog has given you some tips and tricks you can take into your next job application and The Recruitment Lab wishes you success in your job search.
About The Author
Daniel Oldfield is the Branch Manager of The Recruitment Lab Brighton and has worked in Recruitment for six years. He has a degree in Journalism and considers himself a film and music buff. He also runs The Brighton Film Club review site in his own time. If you would like to know more about anything written in this blog or would like to express your thoughts just contact Dan through The Recruitment Lab website.