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Video Interview Advice

Whether as a result of remote working, travel issues, or the Covid-19, video interviews are not just gaining traction but, in many cases, becoming the norm.

Consortia specialise in niche technology roles across; the UK, Europe and US and have placed entirely remote workers who never set foot in an office. To create this guide, we worked with recruiters and hiring managers experienced in conducting video interviews to give you the tips to help you be successful.

There are two very different types of video interviews, each requiring different approaches, so you must know the format of the video interview you’ll be having to prepare accordingly.

Live

A direct video call with an interviewer, these are far more common and the format of a video interview that replaces an in-person interview.  

Pre-recorded

Often used for screening or as a catch-all approach to interviewing, taking little time from the manager’s perspective, and usually an initial stage. It will be a set of pre-recorded questions to answer on video within a specific time frame. Without human interaction, these can feel more stiff and awkward vs the live video interview, so practising answers beforehand is highly recommended.  

The same general interview tips apply equally to video interviews.

  • ‘Arrive’ promptly by signing in early. Technology has a great way of not doing as it’s told, so allow time to correct issues before you are due to interview.  
  • Ensure your phone is on silent.
  • Have questions and notes for your interviewer to hand.
  • Have a copy of the CV or portfolio to hand to refer to (rather than relying on memory).

Set up for video interviews

When we asked, overwhelmingly hiring managers and recruiters top tips for video interviews was that they start on time. 

Check your equipment and not 2 minutes before the allotted time. Ensure the software is working (Zoom and Skype both have options to test your microphone and sound levels) and that you will have a stable internet connection.  

We strongly advise against using a phone for video interviews as invariably, the elaborate tower it is sat on can come down mid-conversation. Equally, when using a tablet that can work, bring it up to eye line; don’t be looming over the camera and, therefore, their screen!

Use eye contact effectively, which can be much harder to do in a video interview, depending on where the image of the interviewer is on your screen. Position their video pop up as close to your webcam (often top middle of the screen) as possible to allow your eyes to appear to be looking at them.

During the video interview, you’ll likely still need to take notes or questions to come back to at the end. Avoid taking notes on the computer or phone. The keyboard taps come through loud, and as with using your phone can often be misconstrued as doing something else and a lack of interest in the speaker.

To maximise your connection, always quit unnecessary applications like Slack or Teams and turn off notifications. You do not want anything distracting you or the interviewer.  

Sound

One of the biggest annoyances to those that regularly use video conferencing (as the hiring manager will have) is the other party being on mute or no sound and the struggle to explain how to unmute or dial-in.

Check you are ready to go, with sound on, so the conversation doesn’t start 4 or 5 minutes late.

Once you know the audio is working, the second thing to check is how it sounds. Tinny sounding audio can be distracting for you and the other party, so consider improving sound quality with headphones or using a microphone.

Where to do video interviews?

For either a call or a video interview choose an environment that will be quiet with minimal distractions. 

The middle of a busy coffee shop is not going to be the best choice for you or them. Your home will be ideal, but if it isn’t an option, we’ve known of candidates using a room within a library, or meeting room within a serviced office.  

Choose a setting for the camera that has a neutral background, such as a wall or bookcase. Make sure the area is tidy, and there are no embarrassing or distracting objects in sight – someone will notice!

Position the camera or device so that it is predominantly you filling much of the screen, not the room. 

Webcams

Position your webcam to be just above your eye line facing down towards you, which may mean attaching your external webcam on top of your screen, or if you have a laptop with an inbuilt webcam, prop it up to be higher. 

The trick to a successful video interview is to maintain the most natural possible connection with the other party as if you are sitting across from each other!

Turn on all your lights, and if you still appear to look dark on-screen, try using a lamp or 2 placed either side of the screen in front of you. You will be aiming for a well lit neutral tone, so you may need to have a play around with different options to avoid being too dark or oversaturated, which can be equally off-putting for the interviewer.

The four video interviews questions for you to ask

The questions you ask and how you ask them does as much to differentiate you from the competition as those you answer, and these three taken from a long list of what interview questions to ask are most commonly used;

  1. If you were in my shoes, why would you want to come and work here??
  2. What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing someone in this role?
  3. What’s most vital for you to find in this hire?

This last one is critical.

Is there anything I haven’t answered or could clear up to help me move to the next stage?

The final question gives you a chance to; clear up confusion, confirm where your skills match, go back over missed opportunities or to explain yourself better. Often, hiring managers and candidates say the final question was the decisive moment in a successful process.

We hope this proves useful to you and if you have video interview tips or advice that worked leave a comment below!

Originally posted to consortia.com

About Consortia Cyber

Over 600 clients have worked with Consortia globally since 2010 to solve complex hiring challenges across niche markets.

With difficulties in recruiting cyber security professionals on a global scale, clients turned to Consortia to support which led to us creating a dedicated division, fast becoming one of the leading cyber security recruiting firms.

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