Video interviews are becoming more common, as employers look to save costs on recruitment. So how do you prepare for a Skype grilling?
By Sophie Cole
You’ve managed to secure an interview for an exciting new job. Great work! But there’s a catch: it’s a video interview and you have no idea what to expect.
A recent survey by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) found that around half of all large companies regularly conduct interviews via video-calling programmes like Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangout.
And despite seeming similar to a traditional interview, Just Recruitment Group Ltd director Emma Kershaw says that video interviews require a slightly different approach.
“The video interview can seem daunting, especially to recent graduates who are new to the world of work,” Emma says. “You might have honed your physical interview skills and pride yourself on giving a firm handshake and confident greeting. But how do you impress when your interviewer isn’t even in the building?”
To help you give the best account of yourself in these unusual circumstances, here are Emma’s top tips for video interview success.
1. Be prepared
Emma is clear that preparation is vital to making a good impression down the wire. “In the same way that you’d plan your journey before a physical interview, make sure everything is in place well before the call,” she says.
“Don’t wait until the day of the interview to see if your equipment is working. Have a few practice video calls with friends and family to test it all out. If you don’t have a stable connection, choose a different location. Ask a friend with a good broadband signal or rent a slot at a local hot-desking space. You don’t want your interview to be blighted by connection problems.
“While you’re in rehearsal mode, ask your practice caller to check other things that can be hard to gauge yourself, including the appropriateness of your background, the volume of your voice, and the amount of eye contact you make.”
2. Have a back-up plan
We all know that technology is unreliable – and it always seems to let you down at the crucial moment.
That’s why Emma advocates keeping a spare laptop, tablet or smartphone to hand, just in case your tech goes south.
“If the worst does happen during your interview, you can show your professionalism by switching to another device,” she says. “That’s bound to score you bonus points with your interviewer, especially if you stay unfazed by the situation.”
3. Think about the overall impression you create
Just as you’d give a lot of thought to the way you present yourself if you physically attended an interview, so you should think about the impression you’ll make via video link.
“Employers never judge candidates on the quality of their answers alone,” Emma reflects. “In a Skype interview, they may consider the décor or tidiness of your house, the clothes you’re wearing, and any information that’s visible from your computer desktop such as your username or profile pic. Even if it’s done unconsciously, they’ll form an impression of you, and you want it to be a good one.”
The implication? While the screen name “ladykiller69” may make your mates laugh when they call you on Skype, it’s probably worth changing for something more grown-up when logging in for your interview.
4. Keep things formal
You may be meeting electronically rather than in person, but Emma advises that you keep things on a formal footing.
“Many companies choose video interviews simply to cut costs or to broaden the geographical scope of their interviewees, so it’s a rookie mistake to not treat it as seriously as a traditional interview,” she says.
“Make sure you’re dressed appropriately from head to toe. This won’t always mean suit-and-tie levels of formality, but it’s important to look the part. If you’re not sure how formally to dress, stick to the safe option of a shirt or blouse and smart trousers, even if no one can see your lower half. If you run into technical problems or need to stand up during the interview, you don’t want to reveal scruffy jeans to the interview panel.”
5. Know your lines
You may think that a cheat sheet won’t be noticed in a video interview, but you’d be wrong. “Looking down at notes is always a no no in interviews,” says Emma. “In my experience, it’s especially obvious when someone does it during a video conference.”
That’s probably because eye contact is so much harder to maintain between screens, so interviewers are more aware of any deviation in your gaze.
The solution, says Emma, is to do your homework and know your answers inside out.
“In this respect, a video interview is just the same as a face-to-face interview. If you don’t know as much as possible about the role and the employer, you may as well not bother logging in.”
© Copyright Just Recruitment 2019
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