The world has gone remote over the past few months and so did job interviews. If you’re on the job hunt and haven’t experienced a video interview yet, you probably will soon.
Just like in-person meetings, there are a few things you should know to nail your upcoming video interviews. The good news is as long as you stay confident, have a reliable internet connection, and are ready to improvise if needed, you’re already halfway there. And the more video meetings you have, the better you get at handling them.
Here are some useful tips from someone who started having video interviews before it became mainstream. Read on if you strive to land your next job without leaving the comfort of your home, or bed if you ask me.
1. Be Online All the Time
Before any video call or interview, make sure you have a stable internet connection or get a better package if you think the current one might let you down. I promise, you won’t regret it.
Being able to speak clearly and hear what people on the other side of the screen say is by far the most critical part of a smooth video interview. Can you imagine anything worse than your thoughts being cut off due to a weak WiFi signal? Or worse, losing the opportunity to get your dream job? I can’t. That’s why I recommend you do everything possible to establish a reliable internet connection and not stress about it.
Of course, you can’t control things like power outages and your interviewer’s internet quality. However, you can be prepared for them and not freak out if something like that happens.
I can talk for hours how vital it is to be self-motivated and be able to “name your weaknesses” in a heartbeat to impress your potential employer during a virtual interview. However, if your internet isn’t up to par, none of that matters. Want to show off your best qualities? You better make sure your internet is stable and flying at the speed of light.
2. Do Your Research
As obvious as it might sound, many people still don’t want to take a few minutes to research more information about the company they’re applying for. You don’t have to know all the tiny little aspects of that company but at least be ready to answer some trivia-like questions.
Don’t let your procrastination stop you from landing a job. Open your laptop and use your online stalking skills (just kidding…am I though?) See what the company is about, and what its mission, goals, and values are. Check out their social media, team members, and latest projects. Research the company and the person you’re interviewing with.
Even if you don’t use this information, after all, it’ll help you feel more relaxed and confident during your video interview. And maybe you’ll get a chance to fit some of that knowledge into the conversation to prove one more time that you’re a serious candidate.
Also, in case you clicked “Apply” out of despair without even looking up the company, a little research will never hurt. Moreover, it might even help you eliminate job offers from companies that don’t suit your criteria.
3. Check Your Background
No, I’m not talking about the criminal background — your interviewer will do that if they need to. I’m referring to the background that everyone will see while having a video interview with you.
You don’t have to rebuild your room to get a neutral background or sit in a bathroom to have that white wall behind you. All you need to do is make sure everything in view is clean, and there are no questionable pictures or items in the frame.
During a video interview, the last thing you want is to distract your potential employer with unnecessary objects in your background. If there’s absolutely no place in your house or apartment where you can feel comfortable jumping on a video call, ask around. Some of your relatives or friends will definitely agree to let you use their place for an hour. Or you can also find the closest coworking space and rent a video room there.
My point is, don’t overthink it. Find a clean space with no eye-catching details and make it your interview space. It’s okay even if you sit in your kitchen, just make sure there’s no mess around after your endless sourdough attempts (or whatever you’ve picked up as a hobby during quarantine).
4. To Err Is Human
I didn’t want to get too philosophical with this tip but couldn’t resist. All I want to say is that it’s human to make mistakes, say something out of place, or feel stressed. And you’ll probably experience it during your first video interview, and maybe even a few more.
You’re not a robot and cannot be on top of everything every single second, and your interviewer is the same (unless, of course, it’s a hi-tech robot conducting an interview.) Anyway, it would help if you accepted the fact that you can and will most likely make some mistakes while on a call with a potential employer.
And you’re not alone.
The interviewers are pretty used to people feeling overwhelmed and saying something they didn’t want or mean. So whatever you come up with, they probably won’t be too surprised.
However, what matters the most is the way you handle these uncomfortable moments. Let’s imagine you said something wrong or ridiculous. Firstly, calm down and don’t make that oops-I-did-it-again face. Smile if appropriate at the moment, apologize, and correct your statement.
Believe me, I’ve gone through quite a few video interviews and learned my lesson. The best strategy is to be positive, smile, keep your emotions under control, and avoid controversial topics like politics, religion, etc.
5. Know Your Story
You might be impressed by how many people can get stuck when asked a simple question about their life, work experience, or future goals. I don’t want you to be one of those people, so here’s what you need to prep to have your story straight:
- Short facts about your upbringing and someone who influenced you the most to become who you are right now
- Your work experience (obviously) and why you’re searching for a new position/career path
- Your hobbies (I know…boring, but most employers still ask this question, so deal with it)
- How you prefer to improve your skills (courses, webinars, networking events, etc.)
- How you can contribute to the company culture if they hire you
- Your strengths and weaknesses (of course…you can’t run away from this one)
- Your aspirations and plans
- What inspirational people in your industry you follow and why
- What you’re looking for in your manager/what makes a good manager
- Your expected salary (if you don’t know what you’re worth, then how should they?)
Make short notes with answers to all of the questions mentioned above, and you’ll save yourself from at least a few awkward pauses.
6. Dress Appropriately
What you chose to wear for your video interview will largely depend on the type of company you’re applying to and your position.
If you’re applying for an executive position at the huge corporation or governmental institution, then sure, put your best suit on. Yet, try not to be too flashy or aim to impress them with the latest Armani collection. At the end of the day, you want to prove you’re qualified for the job thanks to your multiple skills and not the fancy wardrobe.
If you’re applying for a job at a startup, then you will probably want to be more casual. Startup culture is usually very laid-back, and most of them operate remotely anyway. This is where your research can really pay off. So, no one really cares what you wear as long as you wear something.
For example, I got my current job via a video interview while sitting in scorching hot Thailand, wearing a tank top, sweating, and having a sunburned face. So, I’m pretty sure you’ll get one too disregarding what you choose to wear as long as it’s not vulgar, offensive, or too bright. And a question for you to answer is, “Do I want to work at a place that cares so much about what I wear?”
7. Be Yourself
Even though it’s easier to pretend to be someone else during a video interview rather than during an in-person meeting, by any means, please don’t do it.
You want to get a job because they like who you are, your views, your expertise, and your commitment, and not because you tried to be someone you are not. Do not create a false personality to impress someone. Instead, reveal yours.
I bet you have friends and family who love being around you, listen to your stories and bad jokes, and who love you the way you are. Make it your strength. Get your potential employer to appreciate you because of your cool personality and unique or even weird character traits.
As long as you’re honest and forthcoming during an interview, be it in-person or video, you set yourself for better results and a higher chance to get the job of your dreams.
There’s no one-fits-all strategy to succeed at video interviews. However, if you take some time to prepare for each of them, manage to stay calm, and simply be yourself, you’ll see that it’s not as scary as it might seem.
Believe in yourself, know your worth, be optimistic, and you’ll land a job in no time. I know because I did it, and you will too.