Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Interviewing over video, as Professor Kelly famously found out during his BBC interview, we're not always prepared for the unexpected. However with many of us now using video conferencing in some form or another, whether it is for work or, to keep in touch with family and friends. Video has become todays way of staying in touch. Many of you tell me you are quite enjoying this newly found experience.
Virtually Becoming the Norm
For myself as a recruiter dealing with candidates and clients across the UK and globally, Video Conferencing technology is a normal part of my everyday life. For many it is quickly becoming a familiar technology that’s now used widely. Many organisations and people of all sectors, industries and life are now seeing the value and the perils of this medium as a way of meeting and interviewing prospective candidates, future employees and future colleagues. It's one that often peeks into a little bit of our more private world, away from the normal office or meeting room environment.
I thought I’d bring you some advice from my own experience and provide some helpful guidance for interviewers and interviewees to make your experience great and more productive rather than a dreaded one.
Getting Easily Distracted
If you are anything like me, as soon as I join a video conference call session and see my image, I immediately touch and sort out my hair. At the same time I'm looking at my image and thinking, 'Should I put my glasses on or leave them off? Is my chair too low? Is the lighting right? Any of you done that or noticed others fiddling or becoming distracted - Annoying isn’t it!
I use Video Conferencing ALOT. It is a great communication tool for my business. It’s something I use for training, to speak to clients, to brief interview panels and speak to candidates. Early on I noticed I tended to slouch in my big chair, compressing my diaphragm. I would often put my arm on the chair and prop up my chin as I was listening - becoming instantly distracted when I suddenly noticed I might have two chins instead of one!
My mind also tended to wander onto other things. Checking out the background of my colleagues’ room, looking at their book collection or I'd mute my volume or even worse, accidentally cut my video because I was fiddling with other programs. I'm pleased to say I've trained and disciplined myself to keep to the task at hand. Sadly not everyone does and it's amazing how many, when given feedback say. “Did I?!”
What Are You Doing?
My biggest distraction used to be watching others who might not be paying attention themselves, particularly in a group session. Especially those on the group session who are taking calls, texting, scanning emails or generally looking at their phones. I've even experienced people eating or disappearing and coming back with a brew! These distractions meant my own interest in being there began to waiver. Which meant whilst waiting for my turn to speak my attention span and whole objective of being there had gone right out of the window!
Make it a More Enjoyable and Productive Experience
When we are unaware of our actions it can be detrimental, especially when being interviewed or interviewing via video. After all first, second and even third interview impressions count. Here are a few tips which are not only valuable, they will make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable, relaxing and, a more productive experience for all.
Preparation is everything when doing a video interview. The four main things I advise and check with all my candidates and clients taking part are:
Firstly, do you have a full battery life on your device? Always have a charger at hand.
Have you used the ‘Zoom’, ‘Teams’ or the platform being used before? Make yourself familiar with the platform you’ll be using and why not practice.
Make sure your devices are up to date with the latest software.
Have you issues with Wi-Fi? Make sure it all working well. If you don't have great wifi where you are try and find a better location with good Wi-Fi.
First Impressions Count
Always go to the mirror before you join your video call. Adjust your hair, lipstick. Is that jazzy tie going to be a bit much or is that that top just a little too casual?
Don’t make any adjustments to your appearance when the session starts.You wouldn’t check your appearance once you sat down at a face to face interview. Treat this exactly the same.
Do you have a comfortable seat to sit in? Is sitting on the sofa as if you were about to watch TV, the right place? Sitting upright on a solid chair is best and make sure it’s the right height!
Is your background too busy? Do you want your interviewer or interviewee to see the old or new kitchen, scrutinise your book collection, meet the cat. Or do you think it appropriate in the they feel like they are sat in your lounge as if they just popped over for a cuppa or even worse your bedroom! For a casual friends and family video chat this is fine - for an interview, this is a big NO!
You want the person or people you are on the video conference call with to be focused on what you are saying and to see you as a serious professional - My advice is have a clear background in the best environment you can, free from as many visual distractions as possible.
Have your laptop on a solid surface. Definitely not resting on your knees.
Don’t keep moving the screen around when the interview starts. If you need to adjust your screen I suggest you do so at the start of the interview and let people on the Vid Con know, “Just going to move my screen, which will provide me with a better focus” Done it, now leave it!
Make sure there is not a glare from the window
Always treat a video interview as you would if you were attending a face to face. That way you don’t need to worry. First impressions matter.
Remember you have only a few seconds to make this first impression. Keep your mindset exactly the same as a face to face interview - It’s just virtual.
YOU HAVE LOST CONNECTION!
If the Vid Con fails due to technical reasons or any other reason for that matter, don’t panic. Always make sure you have a plan B. Try and arrange a back up plan for an alternative method of interview if the technology fails you for some reason.
Those tips I mentioned at the beginning - add these to them too:
Do you have the mobile number or another number to call or text them?
Do you have an email address again, to let them know you are having difficulty?
Always make sure you have all this information to hand just in case.
Expect the Unexpected The worst thing when conducting a video interview are those unexpected distractions. They are things I've experienced, my clients have experienced and even my candidates have experienced. I've listed a few you may not have even thought of:
If you are expecting a delivery put a note on the door
If you have family or children in the house, let them know you are attending an interview. I find a “DO NOT DISTURB’ piece of paper on the door always works a treat!
Always silence your mobile and turn vibrate off. Also mute your home phone if it’s in the same room.
Shut down your emails, they can wait and turn notifications off. That pinging can be a distraction for you and the person you are speaking to. It’s all too tempting to start to read the email when it appears on the right of your screen!
Shut down any windows that are not required.
And finally close any windows from outside noise. A good way to reduce noise is to wear a headset or ear piece.
I hope the tips and advice I've provided help you have a smoother and more enjoyable video interview - let me know if it does. In the meantime enjoy your video interview experiences and good luck!