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Ashton Hyde's guide to video interviews

Ashton Hyde

10 June 2022

by Ashton Hyde

So, you've just landed an interview for your dream job, and you find out it’s a video interview! This has made you nervous as you may never have interviewed over video before or the last time you did it didn't go as well as you would have liked due to some technical difficulties. Don't worry, the team here at Oliver James have got you covered. Please find below all our best tips to help you ace your next video interview.

The setup
There are many factors that make interviewing via video different to the more traditional in person meetings. The main consideration is the setup! Getting this part right can be the difference between presenting the best version of yourself and not. Below are our key takeaways to master the setup.

Location - When interviewing virtually, it is important to find a quiet space with little to no distractions. Make sure you turn off all noises (TV/Radio) and notify any people you are living with that you'll be having an interview so you are not disturbed.

Device – We always recommend you take the interview with a laptop over your mobile. Feedback we've had in the past from hiring managers is that candidates who interview over their cell phones have a poorer video and it does not come across as professional.

Internet connection – Test your connection to ensure that your Internet is running well enough to give a high-quality audio and visual experience for the interviewer.

Audio – Perform a sound and microphone check before the interview to make sure it is all working. These tests can be found in your computer “sound settings” or in the conferencing application you are using.

Webcam – Test your webcam before the call to ensure the quality of your video. For the best video quality, it would be wise to make note of your light source. Try and have this come from behind your camera to avoid it being distracting in the background.

Web browser - Close down any unnecessary tabs and applications your laptop is running. This will reduce the bandwidth used and improve the quality of your audio and video.

Wardrobe – Even though you may be taking the call from home, you should still be professionally dressed. You should treat a video interview as you would if you were interviewing face to face. Do some research on the company culture before the interview to get an idea of what is appropriate to wear. However, if in doubt always err on the side of more formal.

The preparation
As with anything in life, good preparation is key to success. Sometimes we get limited information on the role we are interviewing for and hiring managers can often be too busy to write a thorough job description. This does not mean we cannot do a good job prepping for our meeting and nailing the interview.
Below are our top tips for being the best prepared we can be.

Software - Familiarize yourself with the software that you'll be using in the interview. Have you ever used this application in the past? Do you have the required link, as well as login details? If not, it's best to reach out to your recruiter to make sure you have this information in time to test it before the interview.

Introduction – Most meetings start with the interviewer giving you a brief introduction of themselves, the program they are working on, and the type of profile they're looking for. After this they will ask you to do your own introduction and to speak about your career so far. We recommend having a good think about what you would like to say in this introduction, as this can set the tone for the entire interview. The introduction is your first impression, so you want to get it right. Our recommendation is to print out your resume and have it beside you while you're giving your introduction. Don’t read it word for word to them but use it as a reference guide if needed. To make this polished, you can use the record function on your laptop to take a video of yourself giving your introduction and then play it back to see how it looks. Giving you the chance to make any critiques where necessary.

Anticipate questions - Often, when you were talking through your career history, interviewers will interject with some questions. These are normally around your roles and responsibilities in a specific job or why you left company X to move to company Y. Anticipate these questions coming up and the type of answer you would like to give to them.

Motivations - Understanding what motivates you is a key part of an interviewer's job. They will ask questions like why you are looking to leave your current firm. and what interests you about the role you have applied for? Have a good think around how you would answer these questions. When referencing the job you are currently in, you will always want to keep things as positive as possible, so avoid talking negatively about your employer as that reflects poorly on you. When they ask what interests you about this role. It's a great time to show what you already know about this opportunity and showcase the attributes that you can bring to the table.

Examples - Hiring managers love to hear about real-life examples you can give from your previous work experience that highlights your skillset. These questions will most likely start with “Can you give me an example of a time when?”. Although you don't know what they're going to ask, you will have most of your bases covered if you prepare an example for a time when you had a particular challenge and how you overcame it, A time when you had to deal with a difficult stakeholder and what you did to resolve it, and finally, an example of something you've done very well or that you are proud of.

Questions – At the end of an interview the hiring manager will give you an opportunity to ask any questions that you have. Our recommendation is that before the interview, you take a piece of paper or a notepad and write down a list. Of all the questions you have regarding the role and everything you need to know to ensure you are making the right decision for your career. Have this piece of paper beside you during the interview and you may find that naturally through the conversation, a lot of your questions will be answered, and you can cross them off as you go. Once you get to the end of the interview, make sure you ask any of the questions that have not been answered. Make sure you ask at least one question at this stage of the interview as this shows the hiring manager that you are engaged and you're critically thinking about this opportunity. If all your questions get answered through the interview, we would recommend asking a general question. For example, what are some of the key challenges you're currently facing in the program? This is a great question as most hiring managers are facing challenges in their projects, and it will give you some insight as to some of the issues you may have to deal with in this new role.

The execution
Once the setup and preparation are complete. All that is left to do is to do it! Below is all you need to know to ensure a successful video interview.
Be early - Log into the call at least 10 minutes prior to ensure your video and audio are functional and you can troubleshoot any issues before the start time.

Be yourself - Sometimes it's hard to express your personality over a video call. The key here is to try and treat the meeting to be as if you're face to face as best as you can. Be confident, smile, make eye contact, and actively listen to your interviewer throughout. A good way to show you're engaged while listening is to nod and smile. You can also use hand gestures when appropriate.

Finished - Once the interview is over send your recruiter a message to set up a time to have a debrief call on how it went. This call will give you a chance to ask any additional questions you have, and you can discuss the next steps from here.

Troubleshooting if something goes wrong
It's not always smooth sailing, and things do not always go to plan. Below are some key takeaways for things that can commonly go wrong in a video interview.

No show - If you are on the call and no one shows within the first five to ten minutes, please alert your recruiter. Better to do this earlier rather than later as to avoid the possibility of having the wrong link or a calendar clash.

Noisy interruptions - Sometimes we do get noisy interruptions that are completely unexpected. If this does happen, politely apologize to the interviewer, and ask for a few moments until the noise subsides. If the noise is quite loud, it may be appropriate to put yourself on mute during this time.

Surprise guests - If for some reason you do get an unexpected guest come into your video call whether that be your pet, housemate, or family member. Politely apologize to the interviewer, mute the microphone, turn off your camera, and then step away to deal with the interruption.

Sometimes the difference between landing your dream job and missing out can just come down to preparation. Make sure you take the time to do the work to ensure you're putting your best foot forward.


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