As we close out what feels like the longest January ever, our introductory blog posts for 2021 will move on to look at video interviews – how to prepare, what to expect and much more!. Don't forget, we are experienced recruiters, so this technology is nothing new to us, but it will be for many candidates and even hiring managers. There is nothing to be worried about and we would say you (the candidate) have the upper hand, read on to find out why...
I hired an agency over a Skype video call at the start of 2013. There was no travel budget for either party to fly and business needs necessitated a technological solution to move ahead on a project. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made in my career to date and was the start of a great working relationship between both parties.
What stood out for me during this video call was the sincerity of the agency co-founder, he was believable, likeable and trustworthy characteristics that are easier to pick up face-to-face (at least for me). Perhaps he was telling me the things I wanted to hear, before going away to figure out how to deliver what he had just promised? Thankfully this wasn't the case and he won the pitch.
How do you win at video interviews? Here are HappyJobsNI tips for Candidates:
1. What is used?
Zoom became a household name by the Spring of last year and became one of the technologies used by companies in their hiring process. Other platforms that you may hear about include, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and WebEx. They all do pretty much the same thing – connect you to another party using the internet to carry the call, accessing your webcam (accept the permissions).
2. Your set-up
It will be easier for you to conduct your interview using a laptop, or desktop than a tablet or smartphone. We also advise you have good lighting in the part of your house/flat where you will be talking from and use your preferred seat, one you will be comfortable sitting in for an hour.
3. Download the software
It is standard process to be given a few days notice about how your interview will be conducted, so download the software you require well in advance, don't leave it until 5 minutes before in case there are snags. This way you can be sure your machine can work the software, or to find a plan B. If you can, do a test call with a friend. Also check that you don't have any re-starts required on your machine (Windows updates), that would force an automatic close down in the middle of your career monologue.
Critically, don't forget to "Join Now"
4. "Join Now" Button
This action can trip even the most tech savvy of people (including me on occasions). You have copy and pasted the URL for the meeting into the program/browser. Entered your name and email address, then hit "next" and critically, don't forget to press "Join Now". Google Hangouts and WebEx both have this final step to gain access to the video call and if you are nervous, you may miss this call-to-action.
Make sure your web cam is on/cover is open and you have sound. One final tip is to use headphones, if you prefer this, it will help to cut out background noise.
5. How to prepare
This could be your first video interview, or perhaps you are a veteran of these, the basics still apply.
Make sure the washing machine, or tumble dryer, or even your dishwasher are not rumbling away in the background. The same advice applies to vacuuming!
If you have pets, move them to another room, in case they get excited when the postman arrives with your mail. Try to minimise the background noise in your immediate vicinity.
Test the view behind you and consider removing any clutter away so it looks neat and tidy, or move to another place. You could also consider downloading a background image if you wish your surroundings to remain more private, it's your choice.
When we are interviewing candidates, we set an alarm 5 minutes before the scheduling starting time, so give yourself plenty of time and join the call early. This will usually send a notification to the company that someone is on the line.
Pour a glass of water, or make yourself a cup of tea/coffee, find a comfortable seat and try to relax. It is worth noting that your interviewer may be just as nervous as you are.
Remember, you have the upper hand, you are in a familiar place so in theory, it should be easier to interview from your home, rather than going to an unfamiliar location.
6. What to wear
Our advice at HappyJobsNI is to dress up, go formal, as if you were attending an interview at the company office, unless you are told not to in advance. It is very possible that the people on the interview panel will be dressed casually, but remember, a first impression can only be made once and it should be your best one!
As we said at the beginning of this blog, if you are at home, this is an advantage to you, so make the most of this situation. Prepare your answers in advance, rehearse in front of the mirror, or with someone else. Practice your breathing to calm you down and relax. There is nothing to be worried about, this is the new norm, at least for now, you can ace this!