How to prepare for a video interview

Careers expert Liz Sebag-Montefiore on how to prepare for a video interview, particularly if you haven’t done an interview for a while.

Grey haird man using video chat in office view from web camera

 

It can be exciting yet daunting when you get your first interview, and possibly harder for some when it’s a video interview if you’ve never interviewed virtually before or if you haven’t interviewed in a while.

What are the benefits of interview preparation?

  • Helps you feel more confident
  • Creates a positive impression
  • Shows that you are interested
  • Improves interview performance
  • Demonstrates that you plan and prepare!
  • Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

Whilst there is a lot of preparation to be done, there are also many resources easily available to assist. Here are some listed below:

  • LinkedIn
  • ZoomInfo – A platform which employs automated machine learning to constantly scan corporate websites, news article, SEC filings, job postings, and other sources for information about industries, locations, revenue and more
  • Companies House – A government agency which incorporates, and dissolves companies and allows the public to see basic information about them
  • Glassdoor – A site which allows you to view reviews from people who have worked within organisations
  • Recent press articles: successes and challenges
  • Your extended network: ask around

Here are my top 10 tips to interviewing virtually:

  1. Find a quiet space and a neutral background
  2. If you’ve got children, it’s best to check that they haven’t changed the Zoom background or your Zoom name
  3. Make sure nobody in the household is streaming as it’ll really affect your Broadband as it will affect the rhythm between you and your interviewer
  4. You need your camera to be slightly above eyeline so you’re slightly tilting your head up a bit
  5. Ensure the space is well lit, ideally the light source should be in front of you and behind the camera
  6. Wear business clothes, even shoes. It’ll make a difference to how you feel and how you respond to the questions. Aim to be the smartest person in the ‘room’.Sometimes things can be billed as a phone interview and last minute can get changed to Zoom or FaceTime
  7. If you do have a phone interview don’t forget to smile – it changes the timbre of your voice and if you have confidence in yourself, so will the interviewer
  8. Practice – you can record yourself on Zoom so you can see what it feels like and play that back
  9. If things don’t go to plan (e.g. your son’s started to play the drums, the dog has come in, someone’s started streaming a film) don’t forget we are in this all together. Any interviewer worth their salt will be supportive so don’t be rattled and let your talents shine through
  10. It’s important to think about your posture and there are a couple of options e.g. using a chair with no arms as there is nowhere to rest your arms which may make you a little more animated. It’s also important not to be ‘a cardboard cut-out’ – try not to sit too still! Some people find more energy and focus by conducting interviews standing up, so it’s best to practice beforehand to see what works for you.

Other tips

A good time of day to be interviewed – often mid-morning is the ideal time if you are able to influence the start time. It gives time to do last-minute prep, but not too much that you sit around waiting and being nervous.

It’s important to consider how to avoid talking over the interviewer. In virtual interviews it’s difficult to know when the interviewer has stop talking, so it’s important to be aware of any time lags and try to anticipate them. If you do speak over the interviewer, apologise and wait to continue. Try to embrace the silence – don’t worry about filling gaps sometimes. It’s also important to prepare for virtual interviews with different time zones, trying to make a mutually convenient time for both parties whilst being aware of time lags during the session.

Also, you might want to buy desktop whiteboard to place notes/prep next to the screen if there’s a lot to remember.

Most interviews have challenging questions; if you struggle to answer them, I suggest you buy yourself a bit of time by saying “that’s a great question” or “Can you repeat the question please?” or even ‘that’s not something I’ve thought about but….’ and then try to come up with something. As part of your prep, think about all the awful questions you might get and try to be prepared for those. Read the job spec in detail so you know it inside out and hopefully you will be able to come up with something. However, if you really can’t answer the question, be honest. Say that, and maybe go back after the interview with an answer once you’ve thought about it some more. It will show real interest in the job and bravery!

Good luck!

*Liz Sebag-Montefiore is a career coach and Director of 10Eighty, a strengths-based HR consultancy. For more information, please visit www.10Eighty.co.uk.



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