Daniel had been preparing his resume for months in anticipation of his college graduation. After completing several applications, he finally received a note asking him to interview with one of his top choice companies. Like most all first interviews these days, it would be a 30-minute video interview. He researched Glassdoor to learn which questions the interviewers are likely to ask him and he prepared his answers.
Once he felt ready, Daniel asked me if I would practice with him a few days before the interview. When I clicked into the Zoom call, Daniel looked ready to go. He had invested in both a ring light and remote mic so that he could be seen well and also easily heard. We started with the often-predictable question: tell me about yourself. It did not take long for me to realize two things: 1. Daniel is a terrific candidate and an organization will benefit by selecting him. 2. Daniel is not prepared to perform at his best on a video interview and will likely not make it past the first round. We had work to do to ensure that the interviewers would easily see the talent that I saw in Daniel.
How did I coach Daniel to be sure he aced the interview? Here’s my advice I gave him that might work for you too.
- Create an atmosphere of professionalism for the interview. Daniel had great lighting and sound, but he failed to pay attention to his surroundings. His background that included clutter in his apartment was distracting. A blank wall is often the best background for this type of interview. Even the digital backgrounds that are available distort appearance. Set up a test run with a friend so they can give feedback on the look for your interview.
- Be still and look into the camera. Set your computer or other device up so that you are at eye level with the camera and looking directly into the camera. Turn off all notifications on your device and clear your desk of any other distractions. Any movements you make tend to be more exaggerated on camera than in person. Try not to rock back and forth or move side-to-side when talking. Avoid touching your face and adjusting your shirt. Don’t look around as you might in an in-person interview, but rather stay focused in looking directly into the camera.
- Decide what you want the organization to know about you. Create talking points that cover those highlights and look for opportunities to provide the information. In an introductory interview, most organizations are looking for a match in three areas: character, competency and chemistry. From a character perspective, they want to know that you have a personal purpose or mission and core values that match the organization. They want to know that you have the competency that matches the role and they want to see that your personal chemistry matches the team. Ensure that you are prepared to demonstrate in the interview a match in those areas.
- Practice a pleasant smile. Again, your face is right in front of the interviewer with not much else to see. Facial expressions should be pleasant and not overstated. Be sure you are fully engaged and responding with appropriate nods of understanding to the interviewer.
- Pay attention to the facial expressions of the interviewer. While focusing on the camera, also, occasionally look at the interviewer and make sure they are still engaged. Don’t ramble on in your answers. If you see the eyes of the interviewer wandering, wind down your answer and wait for the next question.
Like Daniel, you may have an outstanding resume and amazing credentials, but without strong video interviewing skills, it’s going to be difficult to get past the introductory interview and land the job of your dreams. After multiple practice sessions, Daniel was well-prepared and he aced not only the video interview but the follow-up interviews with the firm’s partners. Even in a difficult economy, he has a job lined up after graduation. Hopefully, these tips will help you ace your video interview and launch your future, too!
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