Tips for Online Video interview -the devil is in the details

Online video interviews will be the norm rather than the exception

Online video interviews are not entirely strange at this time. As improved technology closed the physical distance gap around the world, many employers are relying more on online video platforms to recruit young professionals.

Traditionally, interviews were conducted in person. And for many decades, even after completing the application whether in writing or online, it was the fad to have a physical meet up to access not just the technical but soft skills, attitude and personality of the prospect.

And you sure knew you had to dress the part, look the part, get a clean cut or make a decent hairstyle, speak fluently and articulately (starting with a disguised accent…lol), manage the body language – the unnoticed vibes your body parts gave out, wear a modest smile, sound professional and even plead with the eyes if caught up at a corner during the interviews.

There was also the chance to meet other prospects and to access them from the corner of your eyes, perhaps even to bond and strike a professional network, for those who are keen on this. How about getting the chance to look the office over to match the online presence and to discern the workplace culture?

The whole process was somewhat fun. You would have to plan and schedule a trip out of the house as quickly as possible to avoid delays in traffic, clutch an envelope full of copies of your certificates, be your best behaved self and ultimately borrow the patience to wait until you were called in to face the interviewer(s).

But all that changed since 2020 when the world got a reset! It was the turning point for a lot of people around the world. Not just the remote work from the confines of our homes, but remote meetings, remote seminars or webinars, remote parties, remote gyms, remote tours, an endless clutter of meeting invites thrown in the mix without seeking advice on availability and all sort of distractions completely new to a good many.

The interview process was not left out of the frenzied change. Now you won’t have to put up with traffic delays for your next interview session. Neither would you be bugged down by the front desk who would look you over like you were an inconvenience. The security personnel at the access gates can’t lord over you anymore when you demand access into the office premise and you do not have to bother wearing any perfume!

But you will miss the chance to get a sense of the company culture, the attitude of the current employees, the sixth sense (where your gut feeling led you), the hospitality (even if it was designed to lure you), perhaps even a tour of the office premises.

You will miss the chance to show off your well-tailored suit- cut to the detail and your charming personality in High definition. You will miss the chance to speak with your body and to show how confident you are in your own cocoon. The dynamics have changed completely. You should smell the coffee!

Online video interviews will be the norm rather than the exception as the world grapples with the ongoing pandemic and embraces more non-contact measures to keep the world economies going.

It’s about time you take this new reality in your stride and prepare to boss the video sessions. I know that the transition into virtual interview session is a delightful news to a lot of “other” young professionals who would probably prefer to deal remotely than pretend to prim and proper. They are the much younger professionals with/without some charming interpersonal skills where the online video interview plays well to their strengths.

If you’re uncomfortable with the technology or how you look/sound on camera, the best you can do is practice, practice, practice.

But just like other endeavors in life, there are important tips that could make a significant difference when setting up for an online interview and the next few minutes is about to put this in perspective.

Before the Interview, you should;

Select the best device to project quality video and audio for the session.

As part of the planning process you will have to determine whether you are best presented on a computer (laptop or desktop) or on a tablet of your handheld mobile device. The video and audio quality of these devices differ and you are best served by the device with the most reliable technology, good battery life and convenience.

Choose an appropriate Location for the Interview and set-up
The ideal scenario for your interview location is a secluded room in which you can shut out distractions (and noises), control the lighting, and display a generic background.  If you cannot set up a non-distracting background at the location, revert to an online version.

It is important to note that the camera must be placed such that you can be seen from about the waist up. When you focus the camera on your face alone, you may come across as concealing something away from sight and not being upfront and confident about yourself.

Always test all devices and network

Test your network connection, your camera, your lighting, the audio and video program. Ensure that you are absolutely clear and familiar with all the functions of the platform and how it works. It is always best to set up at least 30mins before the scheduled start time. Tardiness whether online or in person is never an endearing virtue. Make sure you have a backup network in the event that one fails. Ensure your devices have enough battery power to last the duration of the session (typically 30mins -1hour)

 Schedule a mock interview with a friend

There is a reason why law firms organize mock trials. It is never enough to plan inside your head. It is perhaps easy and efficient, but under interview conditions, it becomes a different ball game when all we have to rely on is our impression of how it should go.

Get a trusted colleague of friend to run a mock session with. Do not pretend like it’s a game show, but take it as serious as you would during the session. Answer questions off the top of your head as much as possible and don’t rely on scripts and notes.

What to wear?

Please do not be under any illusion that an online video interview has its own dress code. There is no such thing. You should be properly dressed as though it were a physical meeting. Well except for the perfume!

We have witnessed repugnant and embarrassing situations where interviewees were dressed in boxer shorts(even while cladded in fancy suit jackets) and had the ignoble pleasure of showing these during the sessions at some point with the videos turned on or pieces of clothing or wigs disheveled and untidy. You will agree with me that these sort of situations won’t put you in the best light.

Save yourself the trouble for a few minutes by dressing properly so you won’t bother about how much to turn or not.

During the Interview

Look directly into the Camera
You might be tempted to look at the monitor or yourself (I would too), but focus on making eye contact with your interviewer via the camera. Do not take quick glances at the door as though expecting someone to walk in or at a well concealed note on the keyboard/pad or a flashing device like a tablet. These are quick give-away that you are reading from somewhere else (online perhaps) and this would affect your credibility. If you must read from a source for whatever reason, it is best you inform your interviewers before you do so.

Please note that the same rules apply to an online video session as it is with a physical one.

The interviewers would be looking your every move so show good self-confidence and look directly at the camera not your screen!

Mind your body language
You are probably correct when you say that they can’t tell so much about your non-verbal cues from behind a screen, but there is still a good chance that they can take note of some actions you are not so conscious of.

Do not overly gesticulate and move your body all over the screen. Sitting up and frequently leaning to the sides may convey the impression that you are uncomfortable answering some questions.

It’s not a video show and you are required to buttress your points or answers by making solid eye contacts and smile at the appropriate times. Have a decidedly good posture by sitting upright and lean in a bit to give a sense of rapt attention.

Your tone of voice must exude confidence and your response to the questions must be concise and straightforward. Speak in a conversational voice, just as you would in an actual interview situation.

Take a moment before responding
When responding to questions from the interviewer, nod, but take a second before responding in case the connection is weak — so that you don’t end up talking over the interviewer. Aside managing the network connection, carefully chew over the question as fast as you can before offering a response. The network can sometimes play the good guy if there is a delay, nonetheless never cut your interviewers in mid speech.

Take notes when it matters
Unlike other interview situations, you can have some notes in front of you (off camera) to remind you of critical issues you want to highlight, but do NOT overuse them, or you will look odd on camera.

Sometimes the network could act up

Even when all the preparation has been top-notch and you have considered all the possibilities with back-up plans, in some situations the network could be a spoilsport. Lagged responses, scrambled videos, audio feedbacks and echoes during the session can mar and frustrate a great performance.

Try not to keep asking “Can you hear me” and act panicky. Switch networks when you can, apologize if you will using the chat function and reschedule where the network is dreadfully slow. No one likes to listen to the incoherent dribble that a poor network can serve at these times.

Reinforce your position with slides

In some instances, you may be required to make a presentation. Whether solicited or not, but you must seek permission first before sharing your slides. A well prepared slide would give you a strong and unique position and convey the impression that you are taking the interview seriously. This however depends on the context and type of interview.

Did I mention to “wear a smile”? Avoid rapturous laughter and other behaviors associated with an informal meeting. A smile will make you quite relaxed and allow the interviewers see you differently.

After the interview

Write a thank you note

Just as with any other job-hunting situation, follow up your interview with a thank-you note to your interviewer(s). You can drop this in the chat box at the end of the session or write in response to the invite. You will have to be polite and professional in your choice of words.

I wish you all the best, go ace it!

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2 thoughts on “Tips for Online Video interview”

  1. A Vital information we all need because this is the new normal. Let me go share this. Nice one Duke.

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