In today’s uncertain climate, technology has ironically made it both easier and more difficult to land your dream role. To help, Ruth Snell gives her top tips for success when attending online interviews.
1 Set the scene
Try to create the perfect setting in which to hold your video call. Keep the background behind you as simple as possible, this reduces distractions for the interviewer.
Do as much as you can to control the environment including lighting, (source in front of you, not from behind), minimise background noise and the chance for interruptions.
Creating a strong first impression is of course paramount and preparation is key. Being part of a glitchy conference or video call can be a frustrating experience for all participants so you want to do your best to ensure your interview goes smoothly. Your meeting might be scheduled on a conference tool new to you or potentially your WiFi isn’t quite strong enough for the application.
So, it is prudent to download the software you might need for the interview and test it in advance. You could do a trial with the recruiter, in order to do a ‘practice run’ before your interview session and, agree a back-up plan if the tech fails.
To ensure your Wifi is at its optimum, ask members of your household to avoid streaming content during your interview.
As with any meeting, it’s important that you prepare. For a video interview, you may need to think even more carefully about your plan. Have your elevator pitch ready. Know your CV inside out, be able to talk through your career history chronologically and succinctly in no more than 15 minutes.
What’s your beginning, middle and end? What key relevant parts of you experience do you want to get across? During a video call there is generally less flexibility to overrun as they tend to be carefully scheduled and limited to a set time period.
You may need to spend more time repeating yourself, perhaps due to sound quality. Be sure to prepare effectively, remain flexible, but give thought in advance to what you would like to cover during the online interview. Keep an eye on the clock to proactively manage the time available.
4 Build rapport
Ice breaking and relationship building is critical to creating a positive impression during any interview, but of course is harder to do remotely. The distance and aloofness that occurs, compared to a physical meeting, creates a need to put extra effort into rapport building and creating a scenario in which your discussion can flow easily.
Apart from acknowledging that additional time maybe needed to be allocated for small talk to find some ‘common ground’ between you and your Interviewer to establish good ‘chemistry’, I also suggest that you do your research utilising online social media platforms such as LinkedIn and think extensively about what kind of ‘ice breakers’ might get the conversation moving along smoothly.
5 Watch for visual cues
It is much harder to read body language via video call and more difficult to interpret the interviewer’s visual signalling. It is also trickier for the parties involved on either side to remain in sync with each other. If possible, mirror the interviewer’s pace of talking. Make a conscious effort to ‘read the mood’. If your interview ‘leans in’ whilst you are speaking, pause to allow them to interject. It is also polite to try not to talk over the interviewer when they are speaking. If you successfully pick up and respond accordingly to the interviewer’s body language this will make for a more satisfying experience and demonstrate your EI.
6 Be concise
By the time everyone has got logged-in, settled, resolved potential technical problems and got through introductions, less time will be available for elaborate answers. Lengthy explanations may cause your interviewer to disengage. A good way to focus and stay ‘on point’ is to critically review in advance the key messages and strengths you want to convey. Cull the number of points on your list. It could be more effective to focus on your three most valuable and relevant propositions. Remember that interviewing is a form of selling, where your experience and competencies need to shine. Interviewers mostly buy the value you’ve created. So, highlight the tangible outcomes from your achievements, not all the actions undertaken along the journey. When time is short, it’s vital to focus on value.
7 Remain engaged
Be sure to focus on the call only, even if the content becomes less interesting or the delivery is not dynamic. Resist the temptation to scan other devices with incoming messages and new notifications. Better still turn them off. It’s simply harder to connect on video and stay focused. Practice ‘active listening’, lean forward in your chair, work hard to maintain eye contact and be responsive by nodding to show your agreement or understanding. Keep your energy level high and remember to smile — if you look like you’re enjoying the meeting and are happy to be there, the interviewer will enjoy meeting you too!
As with any interview, it is vital to confirm that you understand and are being understood. Demonstrate that you are clear on the requirements by positioning your relevant experience against the role and your strengths against the company’s values. In a video call situation, more regular checking back is required with the interviewer. You could ask; “Did that answer your question?” “Have we covered everything you wanted to talk about today?” “Do you have any unanswered questions in your mind, about my suitability for this role?”
The extra reaffirming will show your ability to both influence and to communicate your value proposition effectively. After an online interview, no one will be taking you back to reception. Make time for a proper goodbye, and ensure that you understand next steps. Plan to close the call with upbeat comments, thanks and a smile. End on a positive note.