Elizabeth Varrenti currently serves as the Vice President of Professional Development at MATRIX. Since starting with MATRIX in Atlanta in 1998, Elizabeth has fulfilled numerous roles including: Account Executive, Recruiter, Sales and Recruiting Team Lead, Director of National Recruiting and Vice President of National Accounts Delivery. A graduate of SUNY Geneseo, Elizabeth resides in Rochester, NY.
5 Tips to Ace Your Next Video Interview
Welcome to the new world of working in this coronavirus pandemic, where video interviews are your only option to get in front of a potential new employer.
Whether using a pre-recorded one-way video interview with pre-selected screening questions or conducting two-way interviews over platforms like Zoom and Skype, hiring managers are going virtual to identify their top candidates. If you don’t have experience with video interviewing, don’t stress. Much of the same advice for regular in-person interviews also applies to a video interview, but there are some unique aspects that you need to be prepared for.
1. Practice and Prep
Whether you are recording a one-way video interview or attending a two-way Zoom call, practice filming yourself talking about your resume as a way to warm up to the camera. Think of some of the commonly asked interview questions and rehearse your answers, looking directly into the camera. Don’t forget to smile!
Questions such as “Tell me about your background” or “Please explain why you are a fit for this position” are good questions to practice with. Practice with your recruiter, a friend or family member over Zoom to see how you look and sound. Your recruiter will be able to coach you on your presentation and may be able to share some of the hiring manager’s “hot buttons”.
Check for technical issues such as internet bandwidth and noisy feedback. Get that ironed out before the actual call so you can ensure there are no technical glitches. Generally speaking, it is better to join a Zoom or Skype call using your phone for the audio and be careful not to join BOTH via phone and computer audio or you will get terrible sound feedback. An easy way around that is to use headphones with your phone and just mute your computer while you use that for the visual aspect.
Like any other interview, dress for success and keep the mood professional, even if practicing with a friend. Make sure, however, that you have researched the company and get a feel for their culture on their website.
2. Handle Technical Issues Like an IT Pro
It will happen when you least expect it: the dreaded “poor connection” pop-up or strange extraterrestrial sounding echo in the middle of your interview. How you handle it will show your potential employer how you deal with stress. After all, IT pros know something unexpected can happen at any time and this is a good way to showcase your cool head. “Excuse me, we seem to have a poor connection, would you mind if we disconnect and call back?” It is critical that you do not get flustered or show impatience.
3. Prepare Your Background
Proper lighting and background are important to consider. Natural lighting works best. Do NOT take a Zoom interview or record a video interview in your car, outdoors, or in your home with children or pets in the background making noise. (Yes, all of the above have happened with our candidates - trust us on this. Your barking dog is not cute during an interview.) Make sure you are in a well-lit, clutter-free room and there are no personal objects behind you. No one needs to be distracted by your family photos, yesterday’s coffee mug, or a disorganized desktop.
4. Close Out Your Apps
It’s a good idea to close out any apps you have running before beginning the interview. Email or Facebook notification sounds are unprofessional and a distraction. The only thing you should have in front of you during a Zoom interview is the interviewer and your resume/notes. If you are looking away from the camera frequently, or checking your phone, you will come across as disinterested.
5. Be an Active Listener
Maintaining natural eye contact during a video interview means you look at the camera and NOT the screen. If you look at the screen, it will seem like you are staring downwards, which won't leave a good impression. Make sure you smile, nod your head in agreement and use words of acknowledgment when the interviewer is speaking such as “yes”, “ok” or “hmm”. Ask thoughtful questions to show interest and preparation, but never interrupt the speaker. Asking for clarification on points he or she is making shows you are actively listening and engaged.
And don’t touch your hair or face! Feel free to ask the interviewer if it is ok to take notes during the interview. Having a pen and a notebook in your hand will keep your hands occupied and show that you are engaged and interested.
Last Word on Video Interviewing
Video interviewing is the new norm. Embracing this technology will give you a unique chance to sell yourself and set yourself apart from the other candidates. Make sure you convey high interest in the position and show energy and enthusiasm in your posture and your voice. Be expressive and personable, yet professional. Hiring managers we work with consistently tell us that the best video interviews happen with candidates who are visibly prepared and able to highlight how their experience matches the specific requirements of the position.
Check out our other articles with interview tips: