Many of the tips and tricks that you can Google about how to prepare for your video interview are common sense. Of course, you will find a quiet room rather than interviewing from a laptop in the middle of a crowded Starbucks; of course, you will try out the video application that is being used on the interview invite prior to the big moment rather than turn it on for the first time at the time for your interview.
Video interviews have been around for awhile, but they surged during the pandemic. By October 2020, 89% of companies were using virtual interviews. According to Indeed, 93% of employers plan to continue using video interviews in the future. Virtual interviews are easier and faster than traditional interviews, even for in-person jobs, so they’re here to stay.
You can think of the following tips from ECP as reminders for preparing for your video interview.
1. Make sure you know the important dates!
You may not be working and managing an hour-by-hour schedule for your job search, just not your bag baby. But, just in case there is an unexpected change to the event time, location, etc. don’t rely upon the old pad and paper to be with you when that information lands either by phone or email. We recommend that you log the date of your interview (and who it’s with: company, title, position you’re interviewing) on your digital calendar that you can access from anywhere.
For some of us, we’ve found it helpful to also record the date and info in writing (like a large desk calendar where you can doodle notes.) Then, the day prior to your interview it is a must and nice touch to confirm with the interviewer the date, time, and person for the interview.
2. Find a quiet spot and neutral background.
If you’re interviewing from home, find a quiet location without a busy background. Barter with the other people in your dwelling for peace and quiet for an hour. If you can choose a neutral background or office backdrop for the video interview, do that! There are many professional Zoom backgrounds available to download.
Whatever you choose, keep it neutral. Even if you know the political leanings or favorite team of the prospective interviewer, keep your background neutral. Who knows who else might be on the call and still sore about last year’s election or Super Bowl outcome.
3. Do the recon prior to your interview.
How much do you want this job? Much about how we approach business has changed during the pandemic timeframe of working solely at home. The need to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack has never been greater. Take the time to investigate the company, it’s culture and the person (or people) who you are interviewing.
Be sure to order an interview prep bundle (ask your ECP Career Strategist for details) to learn about up-to-date news, technology stack changes and organizational hierarchy info pertaining to the company. If you have time before the interview, reach out to people who are currently working for this organization and invite them to have a brief conversation about the company, their role, and the company culture. Not only might you make a friend in the process, but you may earn an advocate behind the scenes!
Also finding the company’s LinkedIn Profile and looking at the people that work at the company, especially the profile of who will be interviewing you, can give you a sense of what to wear. Are they “business casual” which to them means a button-down shirt or a shirt with a collar or more formal wearing neutral colors and jackets? This may seem like common sense but let it be said that a clean and neat appearance (light makeup if you wear it) is important!
4. Prepare for the interview as the CEO of YOU!
Most managers today are overworked and understaffed. Their bandwidth is stretched to the limit. Gone is the time of convincing someone why you’re qualified for the job. You wouldn’t be scheduled for an interview if they didn’t believe you were qualified. You can think of the interview as a way for you to give the interviewer an experience of what it is like to work with you.
Everyone appreciates it when people listen to them and most really notice when they know they’ve been “heard.” Overcome any nervous tension or anxiety by thinking of the person in front of you and how you can help them. Remember that you can listen both for what is being said as well as what is not said.
5. As the interview begins, notice the expression and/or body language of the person or people in front of you.
Pay attention to your own body language too! Are your shoulders up around your ears? Is your chest constricted? Take a breath and roll your shoulders back and down. See if the interviewer does the same thing. You’ve already begun to establish rapport without saying a word and given the interviewer an experience of YOU helping them to relax. From your interview prep info was there a scoop in the news that you could open the conversation with to establish verbal rapport?
Remember that most interviewers are not professional interviewers. They may be just as uncomfortable as you are so helping them to relax and feel comfortable with you will not only encourage the interview to go smoothly but you’ve just given them an experience of helping them to relax.
6. If your interview is a panel of people be sure to look each of them in the eye.
There is a tendency while on video calls to watch yourself speak, but as the interviewee, it is imperative that you are watching for physical feedback from the interviewer/s. Take a deep breath to not only regulate your breathing but also the pace that you speak. Don’t assume you kind of understand what is being asked if you don’t, ask for clarification. Restate the question, answer it in 90 seconds or less (think of a SOAR response that you can use that states a similar situation/opportunity, action steps you took and the results of your efforts) and then ask if your answer was what they were looking for.
Silence is golden. You don’t need to fill in the gaps with random words. Breathe. Prior to the interview, meet with your ECP Career Strategist to prepare for questions that may be asked especially if there are any objections that you need to address. Prior to the interview, also make a list of questions about the company and position that you would like to ask as well.
7. Make yourself a sandwich of support.
Before your interview, call someone like your ECP Career Strategist who can give you the support and strength you need to have a successful interview. After your interview, call them (or someone equally as supportive) to let them know how the interview went and process your experience. Create a sandwich of support for yourself so that you feel confident and prepared for a successful interview.
Some of us may never feel completely comfortable interviewing in person or on screen, but if we prepare ourselves well, we can not only do a good job presenting ourselves and our skills but may even enjoy ourselves in the process!