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10 steps to video interview success

By Thea Watson, Marketing Director of Hays UK & I and UK Board member

In the coming days and weeks, many of us will be adapting the way we work to work remotely from home. This change will also affect the way interviews are undertaken, so don’t be surprised if your prospective employer suggests a virtual meet-up ahead of a face-to-face interview. Instead, use these steps to prepare for your brilliant (virtual) first impression.

1. Set the scene

First and foremost, think about where you are going to have your interview – your home office? Your bedroom? Your kitchen? Wherever you choose, the lighting must be right – try to avoid direct light sources or bright objects behind you as this will create a shadowy silhouette. Think about what the interviewer will see in frame when looking behind you. The background needs to be clear and not distracting. The interviewer’s attention needs to be firmly on you. Once you have set up your ‘interview room’, make sure you’re not risking family, friends or even pets walking in when the interview is taking place. Let them know ahead of time that you have an interview, and then close the door to keep out any external noise.

2. Test it out

The day before your video interview, have a test run. Organise a test call with a family member or friend – this will ensure that the camera and microphone both work. Run through some interview questions and answers and ask the family member or friend to provide you with any feedback.

3. Practice

It’ll probably feel strange doing this. However, video recording yourself speaking your interview answers out loud is a great way to check your body language. It also gives you a final opportunity to test the lighting and sound quality. You won’t want to suddenly become aware of these issues during the interview itself!

4. Prepare your platform

There are lots of different potential platforms you could use for interview; WhatsApp, Skype, Bluejeans etc. In most cases, the first thing that your interviewer will see is your profile photo and username, so ensure both are suitable and depict you in a professional light.

5. Keep notes off screen

Before the interview, print off your CV and prepare questions to ask at the end. Make sure your notes are out of shot but clearly visible to you to use as springboards or prompts. This will help limit the risk of being tempted to look down and simply read from your CV, thus not maintaining eye contact with the interviewer.

On interview day…

6. Get in early

Act as you would a conventional interview – turn up early. Have everything in place at least 10 minutes before the interview start time. This will ensure you are ready and waiting when the interviewer dials in – the last thing you want to do is keep the interviewer waiting.

7. Dress for the job you want

Whilst you may be taking the video interview from the comfort of your own home, you should still dress as you would for a face-to-face interview – even on your lower half (you never know if you’ll need to stand up!).

Getting fully dressed up for the interview makes you look professional, but also helps to put you in the right mindset for a formal conversation with a potential employer.

8. Be engaged

Try to forget that you’re talking to a screen, react to your interviewer as you would in person, by nodding and agreeing, keeping your body language positive and engaging. Don’t overdo it however and be careful not to come across as unnaturally animated.

9. Keep calm, carry on

Even if you’ve done all the above perfectly, you’re still at the mercy of the machine. Tech problems or issues with your internet connection may occur at any time. It’s important in these situations to stay calm. How you react when things don’t go as planned will reveal to your employer your ability to calmly and proactively tackle difficult situations. Have an alternative contact detail – a phone number or email address – on standby in case things go awry and you need to continue over a different channel.

10. Follow up

After the interview, send a quick email via your recruiter to say you enjoyed talking to them and learning about the role and the company. Reinforce your interest in the role and say that you look forward to hearing from them soon. This sets you up nicely for the next conversation.

Video interviews will inevitably be used more so it’s useful to remember these points and establish your own way of interviewing comfortably over the internet. Through dedicated preparation and planning, you can ensure your interviews are always the most successful they can be.

If you’re considering your next step, get in contact with one of our expert recruitment consultants for a confidential chat about the career options available to you. Alternatively, check out our latest career advice.

About this author

Thea is responsible for the UK & I marketing team as well as driving the strategic direction of the marketing function, looking closely at opportunities for growth, positioning in the marketplace and sales support. She was appointed to the Hays UK & I Board in July 2017, following joining the UK business in the summer of 2016.

Prior to her current role she was the Vice President of Marketing for the Hays Americas business, joining the business in 2012. Under her management she built the marketing function from general support to a strategic driver of sales, establishing a central marketing unit supporting Canada, US and four Latin American countries.

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