Interviewing in a Remote Working World
In previous VWA blogs, we’ve been exploring how the workplace and, in particular, how the world of recruitment is changing and adapting to the current situation - from work practices and attitudes towards home working and navigating free time.
Perhaps one of the most immediate and wide-reaching changes to have come out of this situation has come in the form of the move to video interviewing. The recruitment industry in particular is no stranger to video interviewing - it has long served as an early selection process for graduate schemes, or for long-distance interviews the world over. But in the space of just a few weeks, this has become the new norm - are face-to-face interviews a thing of the past?
How do you make sure your video interview is successful?
We offer some handy tips and guidance on how to prepare for a video interview.
Check Your Connection
Perhaps the most important preparation for a video interview is making sure your internet connection is working and that the system you are using for the interview (Zoom, WebEx, Skype) is running the most up to date version. Check everything is working at least 10 / 15 minutes prior to the call and if you are experiencing any problems, inform the other person prior to the start-time of the interview.
If possible, sit in front of a plain background, and in a room where you will not be disturbed. This will minimise distractions and will allow you to concentrate on the interview in a more focused manner. If other parts of a room are visible on the call, make sure they are presentable and not showing anything you would anyone to see!
If you are unable to find a quiet area due to background noise - eg building works, car noises, family members - try using headphones with a microphone to minimise the noise picked up by the device. If that isn’t an option, try closing windows and doors and always mute the microphone when you are not speaking.
Preparing for the Interview
For candidates, a benefit of video interviews is that they can skip that all-important ‘how do I get there?’ – no frantically studying the maps the night before the interview - which often results in arriving far too early and having to amuse yourself in an unfamiliar part of London for half an hour.
Preparations for the actual interview shouldn’t be any different to how you would usually prepare for a face-to-face interview as the content will remain largely unchanged. Some key points to remember are:
1.Make sure you have fully read and understood any relevant documentation you have been given, such as job descriptions. Make a note, or highlight, any key areas and skills that are essential for the role, as these may be brought up in the interview.
2.Using LinkedIn and the company website, research the company and, where applicable, your interviewer. Many interviewers will ask why you want to work for that particular company – not just why the role appeals – so it’s essential to get a feel for the company before the interview.
3.Prepare questions to ask the interviewer about the role, the company, or their specific role within the company. Questions to avoid are asking what a company does or anything that is clearly covered in the job description – and asking questions about salary. For roles that include commission, try instead asking about targets.
4.Try not to overprepare for the interview. Although it is a good idea to have a rough idea of the kinds of questions or areas that your interviewer may focus on, don’t try to prepare specific answers for specific questions, as you don’t know for certain that these will be asked - don’t shoehorn answers that aren’t relevant to the question you have been asked. Similarly, when researching companies, focus on the areas they cover, their reach and any other areas that interest you - such as corporate social responsibility, any projects and their history. You will not be expected to know their exact quarterly turnovers and the date of inception - it’s not a quiz!
The main difference between video and face-to-face interviews – as widely documented in TV programmes, memes and Buzzfeed articles alike – is that you only need to smartly dressed on the parts of your body that the interviewer can see. Whether you’re wearing a blazer / pyjama bottom combo, a suit and tracksuit bottoms or fitted shirt and underpants – test your camera beforehand to make sure your bottom half is not visible on the call!
As with any interview, this is an opportunity to showcase the very best of your abilities and to build a rapport with a prospective employer / colleague. In place of a handshake, give a warm greeting and be friendly throughout.
In many ways, video interviews feel much more personal – both you and your interviewer have a brief insight into each other’s personal space rather than in the usual cold meeting room environment - and there is very much an ‘in it together’ feeling throughout the process.
One of the most important things to remember in any interview – face-to-face or otherwise – is to ensure that you are only answering the questions put to you. It’s fine to take a few seconds to gather your thoughts before answering. Avoid unnecessary story-telling and keep answers relevant, make them clear and concise. If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification.
Remember also to always use examples in your answers to demonstrate the skills in question - again, try to keep these as concise as possible and always make sure they are relevant to the exact question you are being asked.
A common trap that many people fall into when video interviewing is to relax too much, because the interview doesn’t feel as formal as it might be face to face. Whilst feeling relaxed in an interview isn’t a bad thing, make sure that your responses and presentation remain professional throughout the interview.
What are the drawbacks of video interviewing?
One of the key ‘missing pieces’ of a video interview compared to a face-to-face one is that you may not leave the interview with a real feel for the company itself. For many, seeing the workspace and meeting other members of the team is a real deciding factor on taking or not taking a role. Try asking your interviewer about the team and workspace in the interview to get some insight into the office space.
Secondly, the unpredictability of internet and connection means that despite your best efforts, you may be interrupted mid-interview by internet issues - on either side. If you are having issues hearing your interviewer, ensure that you tell them and ask for any questions that you don’t quite catch to be repeated. If the issues continue, it may be that your interviewer decides to continue the interview via an alternative channel instead.
Finally, many people – particularly those living in small flats – may find it difficult to find an appropriate and quiet place to undertake their interview. This is particularly tricky for those living in flat shares or who have children, or who lack a desk or workspace, which can make the interview seem even more daunting. Try using headphones to minimise excess noise and sit in an area where distractions are less visible and remember that the interviewer will understand the situation.
We hope this provides some insight into the world of video interviewing. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at email@example.com!
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