How-To-Guide for Redefining the Candidate Journey: Step 3: How to Master the Video Interview

For several months in 2020, face to face meetings were not permitted (well at least not during the L5 and L4 lockdown periods).

Virtual interviews have become increasingly popular over the years, but this is yet another stage in the recruitment process that has changed drastically due to the pandemic.

In Step One: we dealt with “how” to craft an AI-savvy Resumé.  Step Two addressed the idea of “where” to apply and which job boards to use.  In Step Three of the Candidate Journey, we tackle the “what”, that is, the actual virtual interview – which can be intimidating.

After conducting thousands of hours of video interviews in the last 18 months, we noticed a few trouble spots. We have created a Virtual Interview Cheat Sheet to help you carry out our interview with ease and confidence.

How to prepare for an interview when you cannot meet face to face.

Always be Prepared.

Try to research the hiring company and the role you are interviewing for.  Prepare for questions and have a few of your own questions on hand.  This shows the interviewer that you have made an effort and are serious about the hiring company and the interview process.

Test Your Tech (with a friend).

Clear sound and image is critical to having a seamless, concise and informative conversation.  In the contest between Laptop vs Phone, Laptop always wins!  Borrow one for the interview if you must. Familiarise yourself with the chosen platform i.e., Zoom or MS Teams and know how to use the Mute and Video function, Chat function, and Presenter view.  Ensure that your username is professional and not something like “babysweetcheeks1980” or “slasherking2020”.  You don’t want the interviewer to get the wrong idea, now do you?

Load your router’s sim card with enough data to last at least 60 minutes.  Or if using WiFi make sure that your bandwidth and line speed is fast and sufficient to avoid lag or buffering.  No Mother Buffers allowed 😉

Dial In Early.

Enter the meeting room 5-10 minutes beforehand the allotted time to check your microphone and audio connection.  It shows the interviewer that you value promptness and are respectful of their time and attention.

Set the Stage.

The Room:  Choose a quiet space without distraction or disturbance.   No pets – keep them away.  Barking dogs, squawking parrots or inquisitive cats are a no-no.  The same goes for the family members in your space.  Warn your household by sticking a “Meeting in Progress” or “Do Not Disturb” sign up on the door to prevent family members from walking in or passing behind you.

ABSOLUTELY NO EATING.  Pour some water in a clear drinking glass.  Avoid using a coffee mug or even worse a plastic Sippy bottle – the interview can hear you slurping from the other end – YUK!

The Background:  Choose a space with a neutral wall at your back.  Or if you know how to select a virtual background choose a calm, minimalist-type image. Although fun, moving image backgrounds will make the interview seasick after a few minutes and are just not professional enough for an interview.

Lighting: Good lighting is imperative.  Switch on lights or use a ring light it you have one.  Avoid backlighting (do not sit with your back to the window/ light source).

Camera Placement.

If using a mobile phone, stack the phone on some big books. Do not walk-and-talk!  If using a laptop, stack it on a book shelf or a pile of boxes on your table.  The primary aim is to bring the camera to level with your eyeline.

Start Things Right.

Relax. Check your shot, and acknowledge your nerves, then relax your throat muscles.

Use Non-Verbal Cues.

Nod, smile.  Remain muted until you are prompted to respond or are ready to answer the question.  Then unmute yourself to answer.  Slow your speech rate / cadence down if the video feed is buffering and wait for the interviewer to acknowledge your answer before continuing.

Maintain Eye Contact with the Camera.

Especially when answering a question.  Don’t look at the screen or at yourself because this drops your eye line.  Stick a Post-it note next to your camera as a reminder of where to focus.

Remember What You Need to Say.

If you’re nervous or suffer from stage fright, consider adding Post-it notes around the screen to remind you of important points to raise.

Mute Distracting Notifications:

Keep your mobile phone nearby, but on silent.  This way the interviewer will be able to reach you in case the video feed drops.

Download your FREE Video Interview Cheat Sheet (in PDF) here.

Click here if you missed Step One and Step Two of the How-To-Guide:  Redefining the Candidate Journey.  And, if you need help with crafting a killer CV – click here.