The Elite Career Blog

Nailing your small screen debut.

Adriana Modersitzki
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April 16, 2020
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4 minute read

Even before the massive shift brought on by Covid-19 and social distancing protocols, video interviewing has been on the rise. Depending on which survey you believe, up to 60% of Australian businesses now use platforms such as Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts at some stage of their hiring practices. Not only is video interviewing often more convenient for the hiring manager, it also allows to company to engage with talent from around the country and even internationally.

The way we work is changing, and so are our hiring practises. This includes where roles are advertised and what tools hiring managers use to screen candidates and ensure the best fit.

Read on for some tips to help you put your best foot forward, and ace your next video interview.

The Set-Up.

1. Prepare your tech

Clean your webcam's lens, and test your microphone and speakers.
Record a short video and watch it back to ensure your tech is fully operational, and your camera and screen are positioned well.
You shouldn’t be bending yourself in half to be framed correctly within the screen, so you may need to boost your laptop or adjust your seating.
If it can be helped, avoid using a smartphone or tablet to conduct your interview. No matter how steady your hands are, it’s going to be shaky.

2. Set the stage

Ensure your seating space is tidy, and there are minimal distractions visible to the other party.
Do you want the interviewer to remember your call because of your excellent responses, or because of the mountain of dirty washing in the background?

3. Lighting checks

Check your lighting at the time of day of your actual interview. Preparing and testing your setup in lovely, natural morning light is no good if your interview is scheduled for midday, and there's glare bouncing every which way at the time of the call. On this note, check the location of your ceiling fans! If you have a ceiling fan running between you and your light source, it can affect the consistency of the lighting on screen and give a very distracting strobe light effect.         

4. Remove or reduce background noise

Be mindful of where you choose to set up for interview.
If you have kids at home, arrange for a babysitter, a family member or a friend to mind them – preferably somewhere else!
Shut any pets outdoors, close your doors, and turn off the TV and your phone.

Video interview preparation checklist

Look the part.

Just because you aren’t face to face with the interviewer, doesn’t mean you can wear a business shirt and pyjama pants! For more in-depth advice on interview attire, check out the video series I created with the talented Kim Williams from Individually You.

Research the company and the interviewer.

As with any interview, you’ll want to do your research on the company and the role. Take a look at the company website, look at what other roles they are recruiting. Do you know anyone who currently works there?
If you want step by step advice, get in touch below and we can arrange a copy of my eBook which takes you through a detailed ‘how-to’ process.

Organise your notes.

One of the FABULOUS things about a video interview is that you can have some simple notes pulled together to reference throughout the interview. That said, notes don’t replace adequate preparation and practise!
You also don’t want to be sending shuffling paper sounds through the microphone. I’d suggest either a split-screen with a word doc, or (preferably) a couple of sticky notes around the edge of the monitor.
You must be able to answer without looking away from the monitor for too long. While it can be tempting to prepare for every eventuality, this can actually work against you. You don't want to be wasting your response time looking for the 'right' ’ piece of paper.

Moderate your speech.

Nerves affect us all differently, but many of us share a few common traits. Often, when an individual is nervous, the pitch of their voice will rise and the tempo of their speech will increase. Listen to yourself, and keep an ear out for these things!

Ensure you are speaking clearly and projecting toward the microphone so that the person on the other end doesn’t need to ask you to repeat yourself. 

Address technical glitches immediately.

Technology can be a cruel master and we’ve all experienced glitches, whether it's the sound lagging, the screen freezing or just a weak connection.

Before getting on the call, ensure you have the correct program downloaded and check if there are updates pending. Don't forget to close down any other programs running in the background. I know if my dropbox is syncing the whole system slows down, which is the last thing you need!

Always ensure you have the interviewer's phone number before the video call starts. If things go pear-shaped, mention the problem and attempt to restart the call. If it's still glitching, pick up the phone and give them a ring. Offer to conduct the rest of the interview via telephone or set up another time to try again, rather than spending the entire time guessing at what has been asked of you!

When it comes to interviews, you can prepare all you like but on the day there WILL be variables that are out of your control. What can you control? Well, you can start with preparedness and presentation.
If you were prepping for an in-person interview, you'd certainly take the time to ensure your outfit was coordinated. You would shine your shoes and plan your journey to make it to the office on time.
A video interview is no different. Invest time and effort on your set up. Reduce the likelihood of you being remembered for technical issues, untimely interruptions or poor personal presentation, and allow the interviewer to focus on the value you could add to their organisation.

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