by Kelly Gillum
According to a recent Aberdeen report, surveyed companies said they were 61% more likely to use video at some point in their talent acquisition process.
When I began my recruiting career about 15 years ago, I was fortunate to have access to the internet to find viable candidates through a wide range of sources. If I were recruiting for a position out of the city or state, I was able to set up a video interview.
In the pre-internet “good old days,” resumes were mailed, faxed, or simply delivered by hand. During that time, there were two ways to conduct an interview: by phone or in person. Now, video and internet technology allows us to save time and money and, let’s face it, we are all interested in saving both!
Whether we like it or not, the video interview has become a central part of the recruiting process and it’s here to stay, so let’s talk about how you can make the video interview work for you.
Video Interviews: Friend or Foe?
Let’s start with looking at the video interview as a friend as opposed to a foe. This tool is intended to help all of us: the client, the recruiter and the candidate. Try not to view the process as a one-way street, but rather focus on determining whether the company or the recruiter is a good fit for you as well. If this is your perspective, then you are more likely to ace the interview with confidence.
Some people feel perfectly comfortable with the idea of interviewing via video (including many of you who grew up with Skype and YouTube) while others simply dread the very idea. Most people, regardless of the type of interview, get nervous about interviewing.
Win the Video Interview
As with an in-person interview, preparation is key to nailing the video interview.
Start by taking some videos of yourself. An excellent way to do this would be to set up a mock interview. Have a friend or family member off-camera ask you questions about your background and record yourself answering. This will give you a good starting point on where you may need some work. Ask for feedback and areas of improvement. The more comfortable you feel on camera, the better your outcome.
#2. Know Your Audience
The more informed you are, the more confident you will feel. Find the company website, know what they do, view the LinkedIn profile of the person interviewing you, if possible, to find some common ground. I’m often impressed when someone has taken the time to view my profile. Get familiar with their career and mention something that is relevant, it’s a good ice breaker and helps to develop rapport.
Stop there, though, it’s is a fine line between doing research and taking it too far. For example, I’m fine with you knowing that I taught art part time because it’s on my profile, however if you have found my Facebook and mention my two daughters and two dogs, that’s going to concern me a bit. It’s also good to have a list of questions prepared for your interview relative to the company culture and the specifics of the position.
#3. Be Yourself
Let your personality shine through. We are looking for more than just someone who can do the job, we are looking for a culture fit, good chemistry, excellent communication skills with a good energy level. Be engaged. I can’t stress this enough. This is not the time to show your multi-tasking skills. If you are taking notes, please let the interviewer know and take them by hand, not typing them into your computer. Have your resume in front of you and don’t forget to smile.
#4. Choose the Right Setting
Regardless of whether you have a private office or not, do not interview at your job. You will naturally be guarded in what you say and possibly how you come across in general and the interviewer will not get a good “read” on you. You may speak too quietly and censor yourself, so find an alternative. Take time off during your week to put your best foot forward and give your best video interview. After all, this is just one of the steps in the process. Many times, I interview candidates while they are at lunch and the car is the most logical place to do this. It’s not ideal, but if there is short notice, it’s perfectly understandable and there’s less noise and outside influences to navigate. Juggling your “interview” time and “eating” time can be tricky.
I’ve had interviews where the candidate chose to take a bite or two as the interview progressed which is probably not the best decision. I’ve also had a candidate who had food delivered to his car, rolled down his window, took the bag and didn’t break stride during our conversation. I was truly impressed that he stayed focused on the interview in spite of the comical setting. At any rate, figure this component out beforehand, get your food before your interview and wait to eat. If you are interviewing from home, take a look at your backdrop. What’s behind you? Is the setting appropriate for an interview? A window is rarely a good backdrop because light often filters in which makes it difficult to see you. A good choice would be to have a lamp on the corner of your desk that is turned on, so your face is easy to see. Of course, dress professionally and treat this interview as you would an onsite interview.
#5. Be Tech-Savvy or Get Help
Nothing says “I’m not up to date on technology” more than not being able to do a webcam interview. Make every effort to do the interview if asked. Secure the right device and technology to avoid getting passed over. Enlist the assistance of someone who is tech savvy if you need and do a “dry run” before the interview. Give yourself plenty of time and arrive on camera early.
While the traditional face-to-face interview isn’t going away any time soon, the ease of transcending geographical barriers and the cost- and time-efficiency of video will continue to be part of the interview process.
Most of the time, video interviews go well, but be prepared for the occasional happenstance. The recent viral video of Professor Robert E. Kelly on the BBC World News was a shining example of what to do when things go awry: keep your cool, briefly apologize and continue on!