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Video Interviews: How Should These Look?

As the use of video interviews continues to skyrocket for many reasons, there are a few things you should keep in mind as you make your first virtual impression.

May 28, 2020 4 minute read

2020 will be a year that many of us will want to see in hindsight. It has been the most uncertain, disruptive and scary time people have ever experienced. Unemployment numbers are skyrocketing, and business are being exceptionally cautious around hiring.  

However, amid all of this, there is opportunity. Companies that fulfill a specific niche may thrive in this time and see a need to add headcount to meet demand. Certainly, when we reach the other side of this pandemic, companies will have to resume hiring as well. What that looks like may be very different than it looked prior to the virus outbreak.

Prepare for video calls.

Many companies have been embracing the use of video technology in recent years. This technology is used for everything from meetings to presentations to coursework, and most recently, happy hours. Interviews have been taking place over video for years, but I would expect to see a substantial rise in this area in the near and long term.

As businesses find out just how much work can be done remotely, they may decide to shift to a more remote workforce. They are also seeing cost savings with travel expenses being reduced. Companies that used to mandate candidates travel to a corporate headquarters for interviews may switch their stance and embrace video interviews. This could especially be the case if they are embracing remote workers as well.  

So how can you be successful in this situation and differentiate yourself from other candidates?  Aside from being prepared to talk about your background and knowing something about the company you will be talking to, presentation is everything.

Consider the "rules" of in-person interviews.

Think of a video screening the same way you would think of an actual interview, and realistically split the difference in terms of what you would wear. Do you need to be in a full suit when you are sitting in your house? Probably not, but a collared shirt for both men and women is advisable. Style your hair. Ball caps are usually not the most professional first impression.  

Lighting matters as well. You don’t want too much glare and you don’t want to look like you are hanging out in a dungeon, either. These are things you want to check in advance. 

Additionally, be aware of your background and ensure it is neutral (i.e. free from inappropriate language, pictures or political statements). Make the interview about you and your ability to match well for the position and not the surrounding landscape or home décor.

Given the current situation, many job seekers are locked in with their families. I think most reasonable businesses understand this, but I suggest making the extra effort in terms of corralling children, pets and awareness to other adults during a video interview. You don’t want your child stealing the show during your audition. 

In certain cases, this may not be 100% possible. In instances like this, it is best to let the company you are interviewing with know that you may have to step aside to care for a newborn or a special needs child at some point during the screen. Since many employers are likely dealing with similar situations themselves, I think most will understand, but I would try to minimize this where you can. It is your job to take control of your own fate.

Remember to differentiate yourself.

While some calls with your current team may be more casual, interviews need to be viewed as a bit of a step up. You have likely built some credibility and collateral with your existing teams, so when they see you in a more casual outfit or hear your dog barking, they will probably withhold judgement. 

Interviewers are likely meeting you for the first time, along with others competing for a role you want. That first impression goes a long way, especially in a what is soon to be a crowded candidate market. It shows your dedication and respect to the process and every bit of differentiation helps.  

Don’t let simple things that you can control be the reason a company selects a different candidate. Your professionalism is something that is reflected early in the process and does not go unnoticed by employers. It is up to you to make a favorable impression!

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