Covid 19: How to Handle a Video Interview

Video interviews have been around for a while now, but recent events have led to a huge upsurge in their popularity, for obvious reasons. Given that, many more of us could be facing an online video interview process, and possibly for the first time. Much like anything jobsearch related however, being prepared is half the battle. Many of the tips in our face to face interview guide still apply to video interviews as well, although there are some important differences, which we’ll cover below.

So, whether you’ve got your first ever video interview fast approaching, or just want a quick refresher on the do’s and don’ts, here’s how to give yourself the best chances of success. 

 

Tech Specs – What You’ll Need


First things first – get your tech set up. The gear you’ll need is pretty much the same whether you’re doing a pre-recorded video interview or live one.

Webcam – Most laptops and tablets have a decent built-in webcam these days, but there are also plenty of affordable stand-alone options. Given the fact we’re all self-isolating at the moment, a new webcam could be a good all-round investment, as you can use it to chat with family and friends too. 

Headset – We’d strongly advise getting a headset for two reasons. First of all, the headset mic is a much better option than your inbuilt webcam or laptop mic, because it will only pick up your voice. This means any screaming kids, barking dogs, or howling hungry cats won’t intrude on that well-rehearsed interview speech that could nail you the job. Secondly, the overall sound quality will be clearer, and you can easily adjust the mic levels, rather than having to faff with laptop or webcam settings while you’re being asked to highlight the finer points of your CV.

Stable Internet – Poor video quality, loss of sound, and freezing will quickly complicate the interview process, and destroy any hard-won rapport with your interviewer. Glitches and technical hiccups happen, and are sometimes unavoidable, but you can easily minimise the risk by checking you’ve got as strong a connection as possible. 

Generally speaking, make sure your laptop or desktop computer is connected to the internet using an ethernet cable, as you’ll have a much faster connection. This will be extremely helpful when streaming video. If you don’t have any other option than Wi-Fi, then it can help to have a fast router. You can also increase the strength of your signal by placing your laptop as close to the router as possible. 

Video Calling Software – Overall, Skype and Zoom tend to be the most popular solutions, and are both free to set up and use. Skype is integrated with Microsoft these days as well, so it’s just a case of grabbing the app and logging in if you’re using Windows. It can be handy to have these two on your computer ready to go, but make sure you only ever open zoom video call links from a trusted source. 

It’s best to ask the company that’s given you the interview which software they use too. Most of the time they’ll let you know in advance anyway, but double-check if you’re not sure. 

 

A headset for video calling on a computer keyboard and mouse

 

Preparation

 

What to Wear


Doing a video interview does mean you get to stay at home, but you should still dress appropriately. What you wear is arguably even more important in a video interview, because you also need to factor in how your outfit will translate on camera. Keep the following things in mind though, and you won’t need to spend hours going through your wardrobe. 

  • Avoid excessively bright or dark colours, especially white. They’ll be far too distracting and cause unpleasant tints. 
  • Don’t wear any complicated patterns. 
  • Make sure you aren’t wearing highly contrasting colours. They won’t come across well on a webcam. 

Lighting


Next, you want to make sure that your face and upper body are fully and equally lit. This ensures your potential employer can clearly see who they’re talking to, and will help you make a good first impression. The best way to do this is by using two light sources behind and on either side of your webcam or laptop.

There are professional lighting options available if you want the very best effects, and they’re worth considering if you think you’ll be video calling/interviewing (or becoming a YouTube star) in the future. You can easily use two desk lamps of course – just make sure they have the same brightness and are an equal distance from you and the camera for the best effects. 

Notes and Research


One advantage you have as a candidate is that you can make good use of notes and prompts when it comes to answering questions from the interviewer. Keep this in mind, and take notes from our interview question guide to be prepared for anything. Ideally, you’ll want any notes or prepared ideas at eye level, so you don’t need to keep looking away from the camera when checking them. 

Body Language and Presentation


It’s always a good idea to maintain eye contact and consider body language in any interview situation, and a live video interview is no different. With that in mind, make sure you’re sitting in an upright position, and play around with your chair and seating until you’re comfortable. 

Everything should be at eye level, including your camera, so when you’re talking back to the interviewer, you don’t appear to be looking at the floor or over their head. Always address the camera directly, and only use the video feed from your interviewer’s end as a reference for social cues. 

Location and Background


When you’re setting things up, make sure to find a quiet place for your interview. The last thing you want is to get interrupted by the kids, family members, or flatmates. Let everyone in the household know what time your interview is too, to help further avoid any interruptions. Also, it might sound obvious, but if you’re using a laptop, make sure it’s fully charged, preferably plugged in.

Having a neutral background is also important. A plain wall is best, but if that’s not possible, try and avoid having too much clutter out of shot. This will be distracting to the interviewer and could look unprofessional.

Practice


Once everything is in place, try a few practice runs. Most operating systems and/or video calling software allows you to do test recordings. Make a few and check you can be seen and heard properly, and you’re as comfortable as possible using the software. This way, if anything does go wrong, you can potentially solve any technical difficulties quickly and easily. You can also adjust your lighting, outfit, and anything else until you’ve

If you need any additional job search help, then make sure to check out our Ultimate Jobseeker Guide

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