Methods to Master Video Conference Interviews

by May 6, 2020Interviewing

Chelsea Leon
Talented Beauty Recruiter

While phone interviews have been a standard interview practice, we are now adapting to a rapid increase in video conference interviews in the time of social-distancing and thereafter. As we continue to manage searches for our beauty clients and candidates, we also have collected feedback from both parties to provide helpful tips to navigate the new “norm” of interviewing via video conferencing.

We have built a quick go-to guide to help you set up for a successful video conference interview:

Before your video conference call lets start with the basics:

  • Download the app! Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, and/or Facetime (Facetime is available on iPad or MacBook if you don’t have an iPhone). Most are free and available on your phone, tablet, and computer.  When a hiring manager asks to set a call, you’ll be ready to go.
  • Edit your ID/Username/Handle. We have been in contact with a few candidates that even at the management level had usernames including “Princess” or “4ever”.  This is your first impression and it is best to maintain consistency and professionalism.
  • Prepare just the same as you would for an in-person meeting. Strengths, weaknesses, tell me about yourself, walk me through your resume, tell me about the impact you made at your last company… Know your answers as you would in an on-site interview so that you can speak with confidence.
  • Testing, testing, 1,2,3
    • Test microphone and camera ahead of time. Conduct a practice call with a friend to ensure the audio and video quality are reliable and on par. It can be a time-consuming cause for fluster if you cannot get your camera or microphone to work at the designated time.
    • Lighting – Play with the lighting before your call to ensure that your interviewer can see you as clearly as you can see them. You may not be a famous YouTube vlogger with amazing studio lighting, but you can DIY with a nice lamp.  Overhead lighting shadowing your face? Place a lamp near your phone/laptop. Natural lighting from the window washing you out to look like a floating sheet? Close the blinds and stick to your lamp.
    • Background – It is important to be mindful of what the hiring manager can see. A blank wall or tasteful artwork is ideal so that their focus can be on you instead of potential clutter.  Some programs like Zoom provide the ability to add a customized digital backdrop.
  • Mitigate distractions. Find a quiet space (preferably with a door) and let your family/housemates know that you have an important meeting.
  • Do-Not-Disturb once you are on the interview… avoid email pop-ups, distracting text messages flashing across your screen, and above all do not answer another call during your interview.
  • Make sure your phone/laptop charger is plugged-in to avoid an awkward call drop due to a dead battery.
  • Dress for success – Spruce up your Skype interview look with a blazer or collared shirt to add a more structured and professional vibe.  We’ve all seen the commercials where someone nails the video interview wearing their blazer and secretly wearing pajama bottoms… DO complete your ensemble with professional bottoms to avoid being caught in your plaid pajama bottoms if you have to get up for any reason during your interview.
  • Overcome Stage fright; yes, it is real. For those individuals that have are not accustomed to video conferencing, this is another obstacle to overcome in the interview process. It is important to get comfortable on camera prior to an interview. Refrain from using the interview process as your trial run. Video conference with your friends and family, get feedback on the sounds, background and anything that can be viewed as awkward.  Take the opportunity to get direct feedback before you interview from trusted sources.

On the video conference call:  

  • Ignore your own reflection or minimize it. We have heard from quite a few candidates that seeing themselves on video while interviewing is another distraction that can throw them off.
  • Bring your energy and create a connection. Everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 so relating in this climate should not be too challenging. Breaking the ice in the beginning of the conversation can make the interview feel more comfortable.
  • Adjust your communication style
  • Listening is important and even more important on a Video conference to hear the entire question or objective before answering. We recently had a professional that was very quick to respond to interview questions, but the approach was abrupt and caused the conversation flow to become choppy.
  • Presenting clear and concise answers is critical. It is easy to lose your audience when you cannot read the expression or body language. If you have more to add, follow up the answer with, “I can provide additional details to highlight that objective.” Keeping a flow of dialog
  • Non-verbal Etiquette. Just the same as in-person, your non-verbal communication is important:
    • Eye contact demonstrates confidence. Maintain direct your eye contact to the camera, so on their end it appears you are looking at them, not yourself.
    • Be aware of your hand gestures as too much can become awkward
    • Nod to acknowledge the information shared (also to show that your image is not frozen)
    • Lean slightly toward the camera to demonstrate that you are engaged

Bottom Line:

The employment market is changing rapidly, creating a highly competitive environment with a surge of candidates versus available job opportunities.  Our goal is to provide the resources and partnership to help candidates maximize opportunities for a successful long-term career match. Video conferencing is the new method of interviewing and candidates must evolve with this technology to stay competitive.

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