Video Interviews – Background
Recruiters like all sectors are increasingly using sophisticated technology in their recruiting processes and are looking for ways to offer candidates an excellent recruitment experience and at the same time providing superior candidates for their customers.
Video screening is becoming a popular way of assessing candidates across all sectors and is far more interactive and revealing to both parties than the traditional telephone interview. With a video interview, the organisation or recruiter has the advantage of seeing a candidate in person, but without the bother/expense of actually meeting them (especially if someone would have to fly or drive to a different location).
Employed at the early screening stages of screening it’s quick, effective and depending on the technology used, allows some element of standardisation of the interview process and candidate selection.
Obvious benefits of a video interview are the money and time savings for both the recruiter and the candidate. It also means that the recruiter and their colleagues can watch the interview again rather than just relying on notes and a compilation of promising candidates can be sent to the client for review and selection.
One disadvantage can be connectivity problems and time delays. Also, not everyone is comfortable on camera, and this may put some candidates at a disadvantage.
The following are the steps you should take to “shine” in your video interview:
As with all interviews, preparation is vital for success. For some people talking to a camera doesn't come naturally, so it's important to do some test runs to help you get used to it. Record yourself and watch it back to see how you look and sound. This is a good opportunity to review your body language and make sure the background and lighting are ideal for the occasion.
Also, this is a good time to familiarise yourself with your webcam and microphone, so you know how they work. The camera should be at eye-level so that you are looking directly into the camera. It won't make a good first impression if you are looking down or looking up when speaking. Make sure that your audio and video come through clearly and that there are no technical issues on your end that would hinder your interview.
2. Location and Background
Plan well in advance where you're going to do the interview itself. Use a quiet location, where you won't be disturbed by noises and people. The room you select should be neat and attractive and not be visually distracting so that the recruiter focuses on you.
Close any software on your computer that might play notification sounds, and switch your phone to silent, to guarantee you won't be distracted. Also, let everyone in the house know y you're about to start the interview, so they don't interrupt. You may recall the time Professor Robert Kelly was explaining South Korean politics live on the BBC when his children Marion and James barged in!
Often overlooked is lighting. Put a light behind your computer, so your face is illuminated, to avoid casting shadows on your face. Keep in mind that the lighting can make your face shiny, so as on TV make sure that you powder your face lightly (even if you're a man).
If you are working with a recruiter, they can advise on how to dress for your video interview but the rule of thumb is it's still a job interview, and this is your opportunity to give a professional first impression - this means dressing appropriately. Think about how your clothes will look on screen and avoid busy patterns and stripes for example.
4. The Interview
Live video interviews can take two forms
Live Video/Skype Interviews
The simplest approach is that the company could use something like a Skype, Google Hangout, Zoom or one of the many other conferencing tools online.
Pre-recorded/Asynchronous Video Questions
Or the other option might be that you will be provided with a page where you can record answers to pre-selected/pre-recorded interview questions. You’re usually given a set amount of time for each answer, and you may get 1 or 2 tries before submitting.
These questions could be part of the application process or be a screening step after your CV has been shortlisted.
Much of the advice for a video interview is the same for a normal face-to-face job meeting. Below is a list of elements to bear in mind once you are in the spotlight:
Maintain good eye contact
This is harder to do with video than in a live, face-to-face meeting.
When speaking to someone via video conference, your eyes naturally want to focus on the face of your conversation partner. Depending on where that face is on your monitor and the location of your webcam, this can cause you to appear on-screen as if you are looking down or away.
You can avoid this by resizing and moving the window with the person’s video image. Move it up or as close to your webcam as possible. This action will give the closest approximation to real human eye contact.
Remember there’s a fine line between good eye contact and a killer stare. Webcam eye contact can feel a bit awkward at first, with many people respond by over-compensating.
A good rule of thumb is that if someone can see the “whites” all around your pupil – then your stare is probably too intense.
The eye contact you are looking for is the same as when you go into a normal job interview, neither too aggressive nor too weak. It is that perfect middle line that establishes confidence.
So often candidates forget to smile in interviews, so a confident, enthusiastic smiling is good – but don’t cross that line into a nervous or too-eager-to-please face. The smile is meant to be a tool to show that you are a pleasant person to work with, you have good social awareness, and have a good dose of enthusiasm and confidence.
Fidgeting and distractions
We all have our little nervous tics which are amplified on the screen. Therefore, record yourself multiple times to see what you’re doing and to become aware of anything that needs toning down.
As with a normal interview, distractions, like twirling your hair, touching your face, tapping with a pen or fingers, rustling papers, is annoying to the viewer and distracts from what you are saying.
As a video interview is somewhat different from a face-to-face meeting, it is normal to feel a little nervous, but if you believe you have done everything you can to prepare, this should calm your fears.
Interviewing is a skill and, as with any other skill, you get better with practice. All the practice and preparation you put in goes toward reducing nervousness, because essentially there are only so many areas they can ask you. A typical interview could be 5-10 areas/topics/competencies. An extremely difficult interview could be 12-15.
Be aware that there are some differences in ideal posture between an in-person interview and a video interview.
On the video, the interviewer will generally not be seeing your lower body or legs consideration (if they can, you are much too far away from the camera). It means you don’t have to worry too much about leg positioning. A nice neutral stance in your chair, with both feet on the ground, should suffice.
You’ll want to sit upright and keep your back straight. Make sure you’re facing the camera, and not showing too much of the side angle.
Adjust your chair to make sure you’re not too low or high in the frame.
Find a nice, comfortable balance between leaning forward and reclining too far back. What’s nice is that you can do a dry run and play with different options and adjust things accordingly.
5. Technical set-up for a video interview
There are a lot of things about the interview process you can’t control, but one thing you can control is how you look. Apart from making sure you have a good, high-speed internet connection; a good webcam is a must.
Many experts believe it’s better to go with an external webcam — whether you have a desktop or laptop, PC or Mac. This is a better bet because it allows for higher image quality and more positioning flexibility.
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