blog article with tips on online job interview

Breaking news for job seekers: KPMG Australia hiring by video selfie in 2015! The 10,000 graduates hoping to grab one of the 300 jobs on offer at Accounting giant KPMG were asked to traverse an online game overlaid with psychometric tests and submit a 4 minute ‘selfie’ video to prove they had enough “personal impact”.

And I thought that helping our clients to prepare for standard behavioural interviews was a challenge!

It’s not going to go away

As technology has become more prevalent in the world of hiring, so has video interviewing. According to a survey by interviewing software researcher Software Advice, more than 60% of hiring managers and recruiters now use video to interview remote candidates.

Another new hiring technique is pre-recorded or “oneway” video interviews, where hiring managers send questions to candidates to record answers.

Stress Levels through the Roof?

Yet, 46% of recent job applicants in the Software Advice survey had never interviewed for a full-time job through video. 

Fear of the unknown as well as sheer lack of experience can add to the normal interview nerves that most of us experience.  So, before your first remote “gig”, do your preparation and nail the video interview so that you land the job.

Tip #1: Get the technology right

A whopping 27% of those surveyed confessed to anxiety about possible Internet connectivity issues and 18% were worried about the possibility of poor audio or video quality.  Clearly, it makes sense to relieve your mind of anxiety about the technology.

Skype recommends that those who use their service do so through a wired Internet connection for stability, instead of Wi-Fi—a tip that is equally relevant for video interviewing platforms.

Make sure that you close any bandwidth-eating programs, such as media streaming services or online games, which could be affecting your connection, especially for live video interviews that take more bandwidth.

Tip #2: Nothing beats doing a trial run

I can’t stress this point enough. Whether you are having the interview through Google Hangouts, Skype, or paid software, be sure to test it multiple times. Test your microphone volume, webcam, screen resolution, appearance, settings, etc. Once you have tested all of these, test them again. You want to make sure everything is ready to go the day of your interview so that nothing will interrupt you.

Tip #3: Get the background right

What do you want your prospective employer to think about you?  Use this information to decide your video interview setting:

  • If you want to look relaxed and casual, you may decide to seat yourself on your lounge room sofa.  In this instance, make sure that there’s not a lot of clutter and that the room is visually appealing but not distracting
  • If you want to look more business-like, you might choose an office setting. Again, manage your background so that it does not distract from you as the key element in the room

Be sure to turn off the ringers of all the phones in the area as well as email sound notifications.

Tip #4: Lights!…

It’s critical to get the right amount of light in a room so the interviewer is able to see your face.

On video, overhead lighting casts dark shadows, making you look quite grim. Check whether the lighting flatters you. You’ll do better with side lighting or lighting from below.

The lighting can make your face shiny, so make sure that you powder your face lightly (even if you’re a man).

Tip #5: … Camera!…

The camera should be at eye-level so that you are looking directly into it. It doesn’t make a good first impression if you are seen as looking down or looking up when speaking.

You need to obey the same rules of eye contact as in a face to face interview. This means that you should look directly at the lens of the camera, and not at your computer screen.

This may feel awkward so it might be worth printing out a life-size face and mounting it so that the camera lens “looks” at you through the one of the face’s eyes. This may make it easier for you to look at the camera as you record your interview.

Tip #6: …Action!

Keep your body motion to a minimum so that you convey a sense of calm. It may be best to sit in a stationary chair throughout the interview in order to minimize your chances of moving around too much in a swivel chair.

Tip #7: Dress for success

Your wardrobe is just as important in a video interview as it is in an in-person interview. You want to dress sharply and professionally. It’s best to stick with solid colours and keep patterns to a minimum in order to keep the focus on you. Dress in light colours against a darker background or dark colours against a light background.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore the bottom half of your body.  It’s unlikely that your prospective employer would welcome spotting a tracksuit/pyjama bottom below your immaculate suit jacket!

Tip #8: Avoid downward glances at written notes

Don’t imagine that you can get away with glancing at written notes to refresh your memory.  It will be absolutely obvious to the person at the receiving end and will make you look uncertain, unsure and lacking in confidence.

Tip #9: Manage your timing

Time is of the essence. Be mindful of how long you take to respond to questions, whether in a two-way interview or a one-way interview. Many video interview tools have time limits for each question so be precise, but answer questions with sufficient detail.

Tip #10: Do your homework

Lastly, it’s important to treat a video interview like an in-person interview. Make sure you have done your research on the organisation and that you have a variety of questions to ask the interviewer.

A Gen X and Baby Boomer issue?

Interestingly, University-level applicants in the survey actually see video interviewing as advanced, forward-thinking and innovative. They say they don’t want to go through the same application process as what their parents went through.

Whether you like this Brave New World or not, it’s not likely to go away.  And, the technique may be new but normal interview principles apply.  My mantra is that people will buy from people they: know…like…and…trust.  So, above all, make sure that you sound like someone normal and sensible who knows their stuff and who would be enjoyable to work with.

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