How to have a successful online video job interview | This is Money

With a large number of Britons losing their jobs as companies buckle under the pressure of the coronavirus lockdown, there is likely to be a sharp rise in people looking for a new role.

Britain is set to hit an unemployment rate of 10 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

While stringent measures imposed by health experts and the government prevent us from networking and close face-to-face interactions, this should not prevent you from job hunting and accepting interviews.

Getting interviewed over the likes of Zoom and Skype is becoming the norm as recruiters look for the best candidates

This is because there’s an increasing groundswell of employers willing to conduct virtual interviews through video conferencing technology such as Zoom and Skype. 

These tools make it possible to apply for jobs, network and attend interviews – remotely.

But how do you go about doing a successful interview through video, especially if you’ve never done it before or are not comfortable in front of the camera? 

Kayleeann Maritz of Momenta Group warns that the bedroom is not the most ideal backdrop for a job interview

Do you get dressed in the same way you would a face-to-face meeting and is the bedroom an acceptable background? What will it cost?

The good news is that most video conferencing software will be free through recruitment websites like Totaljobs and video conferencing providers generally offer a free version too as part of their initiatives to give back, keep the economy going and create jobs.

It is unlikely, then, that you’ll be charged for using this type of software but it’s always a good idea to read the terms and conditions of your chosen tool before you use it.

Online interviews, just like regular ones, can be mastered if you know how to prepare.

In our latest interview cheat sheet, This is Money asks several experts for some top tips on how to look and conduct yourself professionally from home.

1. Make sure you are ‘camera ready’

Prepping for a video interview should be the same as prepping for a face-to-face interview, with a few added steps when it comes to the setting.

Usually it’s the employer that has to worry about ensuring there’s an appropriate place to interview a candidate. 

When it comes to being interviewed at home the onus is now on you to create the best possible setting.

Some areas in your home offer a better backdrop than others.  

Since the country went into lockdown, there’s been a spike in the numbers of individuals and companies using video conferencing tools like Zoom

Kayleeann Maritz, global marketing director of the Momenta Group, cautions against conducting the interview in your bedroom.

She says: ‘Space around the house is at admittedly at a premium, however, if being interviewed under lockdown, it’s always a mistake to do it in the bedroom.

‘It’s a highly personal and intimate space, even if the bed is expertly made. If the bedroom is the only option, ensure cameras are focussed well above all beds, clothes, cosmetic tables, away from family pictures.’

Fiona Rigby, marketing director at Totaljobs Group, adds: ‘Another cardinal sin of video calls, is sitting with your back against a bright window, as this means the interviewer won’t be able to see you.’ 

2. Be familiar with the technology

Interview cheat sheet 

This is Money launched the interview cheat sheet series to help guide jobseekers and give them the knowledge to bag their dream job. 

Here’s a list of what we’ve covered so far:

Before you have the interview it’s vital to become familiar with your recruiter’s or your own chosen video communications tool.

The most common types of video software used are Skype, while Zoom has become increasingly popular recently. 

Downloads of Zoom have spiked since the coronavirus outbreak to over 200,000 by the end of February according to Schroders.

James Innes, founder of the James Innes Group and author of several best-selling career books, says: ‘Make sure you know how the tech works. 

‘How many times have you had to Skype in to work and there’s some sort of glitch, the router is down or Skype itself needs to be updated?

‘First impressions are still important. Make sure it’s all functioning and that the camera is at the right angle.’

3. Check your video’s surroundings

Impressions count and while your home collection of troll dolls may be a conversation starter among friends it may not impress your future employer.

James says: ‘Do check your background. Don’t interview with your bar in the background. Check there’s nothing weird in the bookshelves or between your books or DVDs.’

But do have stuff in the background that may create a good talking point. James adds: ‘If you’re a big rugby fan, for instance, put your favourite team shirt within view.’

4. Make plans so you’re not interrupted

Back in 2017, Professor Robert E Kelly became more famous for his own children gatecrashing his BBC interview than for what he was saying in the clip that went viral. 

His wife had to interrupt the interview as well to take the children out, adding to the hilarity of it all.

Employers are aware that millions of families are stuck together in isolation and children are being homeschooled, but it still helps to try and prevent any interruptions where possible.

James adds: ‘You are controlling your own environment so it’s vital to get things right. Switch off your mobile phone.

‘With kids barging in the middle of it all the interviewer may find it funny, but they may not be impressed by the fact that you can’t control your own environment.

‘In most cases people will be understanding and you may be fine. But it may be small difference between you and another candidate.’

5. Dress appropriately

It’s been several weeks since the lockdown measures have been put in place and you may now feel completely comfortable walking around in your casual-wear during the day or even your pyjamas.

But this relaxed approach may not sit well with your future employer, warns James. He cautions: ‘No pyjama bottoms.

James Innes, founder of the James Innes Group and author of best-selling career books, says it’s vital to understand how the video conferencing tech works and that the camera is at the right angle

‘Also don’t’ be tempted to just dress formally from the waist up because if you have to suddenly leap up and push a child out the door it may all go wrong.

‘I’d recommend smart casual in most cases at the moment. It would seem silly to be absolutely suited and booted. That may go too far. But then you also don’t want to look like you’re living in a post-apocalyptic environment.’

6. Make use of crib notes

With kids barging in the middle of it all the interviewer may find it funny, but they may not be impressed by the fact that you can’t control your own environment…it may be small difference between you and another candidate.
James Innes

Having an interview in the comfort of your own home brings about a few advantages one of which is styling your environment to ensure you get your points across in the interview.

James advises: ‘A few well-placed notes could help trigger your mind. But don’t go too far – restrict to a few key points to give you a reminder.

‘Even in a normal live interview I do tell people to take a copy of your CV to refer to. Having a CV in front of you does still look professional.

‘But don’t look like you’re reading. Don’t have a script, have a cheat sheet. You don’t want to come across like you’re overly rehearsed or sound like a parrot.’

7. Stand, don’t sit

Sitting may be comfortable but there’s always the danger of this position creating too much comfort making you slouch and coming across as nonchalant.

Vivek Dodd, founder of e-learning and compliance training firm Skillcast suggests standing up instead.

He says: ‘This requires having a stand desk or propping up your screen or camera on a stand. This is especially useful if you are making a presentation.’

Vivek Dodd founder of Skillcast says that for some job interviews it may be more ideal to stand than to sit

8. Practice makes perfect

If you’re unfamiliar with conducting yourself over video, then it’s vital to practice to ensure you come across professionally.

James says: ‘Engage with the camera. This can be hard to do but that lens is your friend. Engage, smile and practice to the camera. 

‘Practice with a friend and do it live. You probably have plenty of friends that don’t have much to do right now and would be happy to help.’

Home, sweet home

Workplaces are evolving and companies are now adopting new forms of technology to access the best workers and to retain talent that, for now, can only work from home.

The camera may feel intimidating now but there are plenty of advantages to being interviewed virtually.

Fiona adds: ‘Some candidates may feel more relaxed and confident through the use of video calls as they’re able to attend interviews from the comfort of their own home, avoiding the stresses of travel and the possibility of running late.’

‘Conducting a job interview through a video call is certainly more challenging than an in-person interview because the majority of us simply aren’t used to doing it. 

‘However, and with everything else we’re learning to acclimatise to right now, we will learn to read people and interact with them efficiently using this method.’

Article by Angelique Ruzicka 

This content was originally published here.