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Video interviews – how to make a great impression

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

Whether we love them or loathe them, video interviews have become the ‘new normal’ and chances are, they’re here to stay! Although many of us have become more accustomed to video chats, online meetings and webinars, the prospect of being interviewed remotely still fills many of us with horror. Fortunately, with careful preparation, you can banish some of these fears, hide any residual nerves and create a great impression. There are just a few things to bear in mind.

Preparing for a video interview

Before you accept an invitation to attend a video interview, it’s worth checking what Employers are looking for. You may be invited to a ‘live’ conversation with a company using software platforms like Skype, Google Hangouts and FaceTime, or you might need to create a pre-recorded film. Graduate recruiters, for example, may ask Candidates applying for competitive roles to record themselves answering set questions. With both of these types of interviews, you’ll need to consider how to present yourself on camera.

Think about what to wear

Don’t be tempted to dress down, video interviews are just as important as interviews in-person, so even though you’re at home you should do everything you can to appear competent and qualified. It can feel strange to meet potential Employers in your own environment, so selecting your outfit will help you to prepare mentally. If you’re wondering what to wear, do some research, find out the company dress code on their website and match yourself accordingly.

Consider where to position yourself

Before your interview, you’ll need to find a quiet, business-like environment where you won’t be interrupted. It’s best to have a good office desk, where you can position your camera so that it’s pointing at a clean and tidy background. Make sure there’s nothing to distract your interviewer, from clutter and mess to bad lighting. Aim to have light pointing at you, instead of behind you, which could create a dark silhouette on-screen. You’ll also need to have your camera pointing at eye level – avoid sitting on a sofa or in a position that creates an unusual camera angle.

Be conscious of your body language

Try to appear natural and remember to smile – it’s important to show your interviewer that you’re positive about the opportunity you’re applying for. Non-verbal communication can be key when it comes to creating a good impression, so position your camera to give a clear shot of your head and shoulders.

If you’re feeling nervous about appearing on-screen, schedule in some practice beforehand. Don’t be embarrassed to watch yourself back and look for ways that you can improve- you may be surprised to see how you appear. For example, some Candidates tend to gesticulate more in order to emphasise certain points. You should keep gestures to a minimum as this can be distracting.

Adopt active listening techniques

If you’ve prepared well, there will be plenty of opportunity to shine. To achieve this, clear the room of distractions and make sure everyone in the house knows not to interrupt. With this type of interview, it can be easy to talk over people, so make sure you interject at the right times and keep your speech articulate. Show that you’ve listened to Employers by using phrases like ‘yes’, ‘absolutely’ and ‘I understand’. This will help you avoid awkward silences and keep the conversation flowing.

At the same time, if you haven’t heard something properly, don’t be afraid to clarify. This will show that you’re confident enough to ask questions and respond to what you’ve learnt appropriately. It can be an advantage to have your notes and CV to hand, so try writing down some points to mention in conversation.

Be prepared for technological issues

This can be the biggest danger with video interviews. For this reason, it’s best to interview at home where you’re able to guarantee a quick and speedy internet connection, rather than in a public space. It’s always good to have a back-up plan if something fails, so test your equipment beforehand and check the microphone. Find out who is making the call, sign in early, and if you have issues during the call, try redialling your interviewer to fix the problem. Finally, you should have a professional screen name, an appropriate photo and tighten your privacy settings.

Embrace technology

Video interviews are convenient for companies and potential Employees alike. For job seekers, technology gives an opportunity to interview before or after work, so that vacancies are easily accessible.

At Allen Associates, we’ve had great success using video interviews. When we opened our new office in London last year, we made a decision – due to the geographical diversity of the talent pool - to offer our Candidates interviews over video in addition to face-to-face meetings. Since starting this, we’ve recorded a 100% placement achievement rate, which indicates that this is a great way to assess suitability and build relationships.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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