The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a temporary (and in some cases more permanent) vacation of offices nationwide, which has stripped a fundamentally human element from the interviewing process. But with the explosion of video technology, that doesn’t mean interviews need to be removed of their humanity, even at a distance. For job seekers and candidates, video interviews provide a chance to showcase themselves and their abilities in a way that doesn’t come across on a sheet of paper via a traditional resume. I have assembled my own do’s and don’ts to prepare your mind before the interview, and I called upon Jacqueline Loeb, senior vice president at Recruiter.com to share her recommendations to cut through the noise.
“Both on the candidate and employer side, each participant should treat video interviews as they would in-person interviews, and apply best practices to ensure an interview flows and is successful,” Loeb said. “There are a few ways that candidates and employers can adapt their interview habits to the various tech platforms we now employ for virtual interviews and ensure that both professionalism and enthusiasm are maintained on both ends.”
Before The Video Interview
If you’re like most people, you might get the jitters before the interview. That’s natural, especially when appearing on screen. “For the candidate, be sure you’re dressing as you would for an in-house interview; you will never be faulted for dressing a bit more formally on screen,” Loeb said. “Also make sure to have your resume on hand in an open tab to reference, just like you would traditionally bring a copy with you in person. Additionally, give the interview your full attention; take notes and make sure you are in a closed room with your phone and browser notifications turned off.”
If self-doubt barges in the night before the next-day video interview, many candidates believe the solution is to avoid thinking about it. So they distract themselves by drinking too much alcohol, surfing the internet, playing video games or watching television in order to relax. But instead of solving the problem, these actions only exacerbate stress in the long run. A new study found that unhealthy habits late at night impede workplace performance the next day. The best approach is to focus on healthy measures that can de-stress your mind and jump start next-day success. Manage late-night stress by practicing relaxation techniques, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi or massage. Plus, a good night’s sleep, morning exercise and a healthy breakfast can mitigate interview jitters.
Another mistake is to rehash what you did wrong in past interviews and worry about making another mistake. Try not to overthink your performance. Trying too hard can backfire, raising your stress level. Sometimes casting fate to the wind and trusting your gut to lead, instead of your head, helps you accomplish more than rehearsing your performance before the big day. You can turn that habit around and sharpen your thinking by reminding yourself of past successes—instead of past slip-ups—and spend a few minutes meditating on those successes. According to recent research, contemplating how you overcame past professional hardships is a resource to strengthen your belief in yourself.
Another tool scientists have shown to improve your performance is how you talk to yourself. Negative self-talk impairs our confidence and drives a wedge between our true abilities and performance. The real stressors are the doubts, not the upcoming interview. When we remove the second layer of doubt and substitute compassion, we can see the real barrier more clearly and feel more at ease dealing with it. Studies show when we’re under the gun and talk to ourselves in a compassionate tone the way we would encourage a loved one or friend—using first-name self-talk such as “Bryan, you’ve got this” instead of the pronoun “I”—it disables self-doubt and enhances our performance.
On the technology side, Loeb suggests that you come prepared and take advantage of everything in your control, starting with minimizing your tabs to increase internet speed: “Be sure to know how you are logging on in advance, whether it’s Zoom, Google Hangout, etc.,” she said. “If it’s a platform you haven’t used before, make sure to test it out and download the appropriate plug in’s beforehand. Be sure to also practice active listening during the entire interview; use Gallery View that lets you see the person you’re talking to. This could also be as simple as smiling more and increasing your expressions and energy levels by about 10-20% or by bringing yourself a bit closer to the screen.”
During The Video Interview
Jacqueline Loeb shared the following Do’s And Don’ts to keep in mind during the interview:
- Do make the case for why you’d be a strong fit for the role you’re interviewing for, with specific examples, data and anecdotes that demonstrate how your past experience and skill set translates to this role.
- Do talk about what makes you gritty, what drives you and the challenges that you’ve faced in your life. All of these are important factors of what makes you, YOU.
- Do try to keep your responses to the recruiter or hiring managers responses to around 60 seconds where possible. If they need further elaboration, they will ask for it.
- Do keep your environment looking simple and neat. Sit at your kitchen table, desk, or prop your phone on a bookshelf or table. Make sure your room is well lit, and keep the video from the shoulders up.
- Don’t get too personal and overshare when it comes to your story and past experience, that can turn an employer off.
- Don’t over-respond to a question. Though it can be difficult to squeeze a response into just one minute, remember hiring managers will be interviewing lots of candidates and need the highlight reel given to them in an efficient manner.
- Don’t get creative with camera angles or filters or place your furry friends into the frame.
Loeb’s Tips For Managers
“As the hiring manager or interviewer, make sure to give the candidate your full attention to ensure you are making them feel important. Remember, this is a new medium that everyone is getting used to, so ensuring candidates feel comfortable is paramount. Make sure expectations for the interview are stated at the onset; tell them what to expect, any rules of engagement, and make them feel human and comfortable by asking about their day and engaging them with informal conversation before diving into the actual interview. And, within reason, try to be understanding of technical difficulties. Thinking about the different demographics behind the screen is important. Some candidates are going to be much more comfortable on video than say, candidates who are more seasoned, where video might be new for many of these interviewees.”