As a Candidate how do you prepare for a video interview?

Posted on 9 Jun 2020
As a Candidate how do you prepare for a video interview?

Coronavirus has had a massive impact on businesses across the UK. Dorset and Hampshire have not escaped, though have thankfully seen lower rates of infection so far than other places in the country.

Overnight permanent placement recruitment as I know it, pretty much ground to a halt at the start of lockdown. After a few weeks, I started to see tentative enquiries, companies nervously considering their futures after the initial shocking upheaval had subsided, a little. Since then the momentum has grown, we’re still not back to full capacity, BUT, there are green shoots and we need you to be ready.

So, one of the challenges thrown our way, was how on earth would we conduct interviews when businesses were locked down, social distancing in place and a multitude of people working from home. 
Enter…the Zoom revolution! (Other video conferencing software is available!)

As with the rest of the UK we learnt all about video conferencing and video interviewing and we learnt quickly. It’s likely that video interviewing will continue for some time yet.  2 reasons, obviously while social distancing is firmly in place, meeting people from outside is to be discouraged, but also companies realise that there are clear benefits to video interviewing, not least reducing the need for travel and increasing the focus and attention of both parties during the interview.

We’ve compiled some guidelines for candidates, based on our video interviewing experience so far. Also, further down the newsletter, you can watch a video testimonial from one of our candidates who has very recently gone through the process – listen to his feedback.

1. Keep it professional

Your space: use a tidy room with a clean and uncluttered background. A neutral background is best if you can manage it. Zoom has a handy virtual background option if you’re able to work with a green screen.
Your lighting: avoid sitting with a window behind you or to the side of you, you will appear like a shadow if you don’t and this will unnerve and frustrate your interviewer. A natural light source in front of you is best.
Your household: make sure that if you share your space with others that you inform them you need some space and quiet for the period of your interview. Think about your pets too, barking dogs and keyboard loving kitties don’t make for good interview partners.
Be organised: if you have to present something, have it open and ready to share by screen. If you have to read something, have it ready, open on your desktop or on your table top whichever. It won’t look good if you have to leave the camera to get something you need in your interview. Have a copy of your CV to hand.

2. Check your equipment

Matching software: before starting the interview, check if you have the right application on your device to match with the other party, try it out long before the meeting and check again a few minutes before.
Soundcheck: Check the clarity of your voice through the microphone. Use a small headset (type earphone) if the quality is better; big headsets should be avoided as they can create a feeling of isolation to your interviewer. Avoid any noisy disturbances and filters when you are speaking and try to make your room soundproof as possible.
Practice makes perfect: Check the quality of the camera and how you appear on the screen. Hearing together with sight are the only senses you can use to make a good impression, so make sure to take care of them. If you’re at all unsure, test it out with a friend, colleague or family member. Skype and Zoom allow you to record yourself – speak to camera and then critique yourself, what can you improve on?

3. Show empathy about COVID-19 or any major event happening in your interviewer’s environment.

It’s only natural that Coronavirus comes up in conversation. Do your research beforehand and find out what information is available as to how this company was affected, show empathy. This is a good tip for any interview and any major event. Be ready with your words.

4. And…action!

Use a laptop or PC screen, not your mobile, a tablet if that’s all that is available. The quality and size of image is better allowing you to interact more appropriately with your interviewer. Make sure the equipment is mounted on a solid surface and does not move about during the interview.

  • Place the camera in a horizontal line to your eyes; don’t put it too low. Use books or boxes to raise up the camera if you have to, they won’t see, and you’ll be better presented.
  • Look to the point where the camera is located or to the middle of your screen.
  • Do not react when not necessary: active listening signals such as “hm” and “yes” are less sympathetic online than in real life and interrupt the sound quality. They can be quite off putting to the interviewer due to time delays between you both. Nod your head, that’s fine.
  • Don’t wear striped clothing.
  • If you’re using a virtual background, don’t wear anything that is green.
  • Make sure your name is visible clearly on screen. If you’re using someone else’s account for the interview, change the user name before you start. Make sure you use your full name and capitalise it properly.
  • Have a glass of water nearby.
  • Have a backup plan in case your or their equipment or internet fails. Have the interviewer’s telephone number, their email address, jump on the link again and re-connect. Think about what you will do if this happens, so you can do it calmly.
  • From time to time we experience less than perfect internet connections. If this happens and you can’t hear or see properly, alert the interviewer and suggest re-connecting.
  • Practice, so you can iron out any issues. This will also build your confidence.
  • Make sure that you know how to have the correct screen view – if you have a panel of interviewers, choose gallery view so you can see everyone clearly. If someone is presenting to you, choose speaker view so that you can concentrate on them only.
  • Show up a few minutes before the interview is due to start – on Zoom, your interviewer will be told you are waiting and then will ‘let you in’ when they are ready. On Skype, your interviewer will be calling you, so be ready 5 minutes before the call is due to start.
  • Remember this is an interview, so have your questions for your interviewer ready.

We’re all fairly new to video interviewing, including the interviewer in most cases.  Your best efforts to be as professional as possible and to demonstrate that you know what you are doing will work in your favour. Good luck!
Remember: By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail (B.Franklin).