Video interviews are here to stay. Whether it’s Zoom, Teams, Google Hangouts, one-way video interviews like Spark Hire, the technology is here and how a candidate reacts to it can make or break their interviews. If you want to give an outstanding video interview and get to the next step, I implore you to take the following tips to heart and implement them in your process today.
In 2020 video conferencing finally went mainstream. Teaching, coaching, courses, work meetings, board meetings, happy hours, interviews… no matter the situation we have managed to cram video technology into every facet of our lives.
That’s good and bad. For me, I have had more conversations with family over the last 18 months, met with colleagues, and attended a completely virtual professional conference that I loved. That said, a funny thing has happened when I jump on video interviews these days. It seems that the implied veil of professionalism has left the building. My guess is that because we are using the tools so much and for so many informal online gatherings, that we have forgotten some basic business etiquette rules. I mean, if your kids are using Zoom and it’s on all the time, how formal is it?
First Impressions Matter
I am mostly retired from recruiting, but periodically a family member sucks me back in. In the last 18-months, I have probably conducted 100 video interviews and I have frankly been appalled at the lack of professionalism from candidates regardless of position level showing up on a video interview. The bad behavior examples are everything from people lying in their bed for the video interview, to chasing toddlers through their house while holding a phone, and cleaning their garage in a sweaty t-shirt while joining me for their interview.
Those are extreme cases, but first impressions are everything. A video interview is an interview. If you wouldn’t show up to an office for an interview in a t-shirt, why would you wear one in a video interview?
Do This For a Great First Video Interview Impression:
- Wear attire appropriate for the company you are interviewing with.
- Sit in a chair, at a desk, or at a table. Sitting up helps you appear more confident an engaged.
- Use a ring light. You can get one inexpensively on Amazon or at Wal Mart. They make all the difference in appearing bright eyed and focused.
- If you use Zoom, check out the video appearance smoothing tool. I’m not going to lie, I prefer Zoom to Teams becuase I look better.
What’s Behind You?
The locations candidates choose to interview from facinate me. It’s just not ok to do your Zoom interview from your bed. It’s not even ok to do it from your bedroom with your bed behind you. I have had people take a video interview sitting on the floor with their back against a wall. Others have been outside with a ton of distractions. A lot of people seem to interview from their cars. Then there was the beer pong candidate who used the party remains from the night before as their interview backdrop.
The choice of location tells the interviewer something about you. Are you professional? Are you taking the interview seriously? Do you have good boundaries?
Let’s not forget that if you do the interview in your home, the interview has a window into how you live. Are you messy? Is your family walking through the interview? Does your cat or dog join you?
If you are interviewing for a work-from-home job, what the employer sees through the camera lens will be judged. The backdrop you select will set the tone for the future view the team, clients, and stakeholders will see when they interact with you. It matters.
One of my coaching clients and I were talking about work calls and video interviews. She told me that she always uses a background because most of the people she is interacting with are people that she would never have in her home. No matter what we do, video interviewing is intrusive into our private spaces. I love all my clients, but once I started using a background with Zoom for every call, I felt more professional and less judged for my office mess. These are interviews. Use an appropriate background. You don’t need to let strangers in your home.
Getting the Best Background For Your Video Interview
- If you use Zoom, install a background. Try to find one that does not have as many trails when you move as others. Play around with what you pick and your camera, lighting, and movement before the call.
- If you use Teams, the background feature is often disabled. Here are instructions if it’s not.
- If you don’t have a background feature, ruthlessly inspect what the camera sees behind you. Consider what impression you want to give the interviewer and act accordingly.
- Consider buying a folding screen. My office out of control with files and papers. I finally had to get an inexpensive screen from Wayfair to hide the mess when I have to use Teams.
- If you are struggling with what background to get, take a look at Canva. They have a free option and the site is easy to use. They free and paid backgrounds to choose from.
Outstanding Video Interviews Mean Practice
Doing your best in a video interview does mean practicing. At the very least, set up your workspace before the interview and test everything out. During the interview where to look for eye contact is the most difficult part. We like looking at ourselves. I do it, but you want to focus on the camera lens as that will appear that you are looking directly at the interviewer.
You can set up a free Zoom account and practice with a friend. Get the settings right and get comfortable.
The other option you have is Interview Coaching. At KDB Coaching, I can support you with practice runs for your video interviewing. I have a technology that I use where I can set you up with one-way video questions, and we review the answers and your overall performance. Given that I use Zoom as my video coaching tool, I can easily provide feedback on your setup.
Remember, video interviews are interviews. Set yourself up for success!