Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Now is a Perfect Time To Polish Your Video Interviewing Skills

With businesses around the world grinding to a halt due to Covid-19, things are quite uncertain for all of us.  Many of us are suddenly laid off, working from home or dealing with the specter of the virus affecting us and our loved ones.  With many of us sheltering in place, we are experiencing personal and professional disruptions and upheaval.  The recruiting business has definitely been affected by this shut down.  I'm seeing positions getting filled with start dates several weeks off, people putting off their job search to care for their families, and new positions being put on hold for the short term.

But many positions are essential, and require people to continue along the recruitment process. Companies have terminated any non-essential business travel and many are not having people come in for interviews.  If positions need to get filled but you can't interview in person, this is time to perfect your video interviewing skills.

Video conferencing has come a long way in the last few years.  Colleges in California are now planning to offer all of their next classes via ZoomGoogle Classroom, or other video platforms.  Many clients use Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype or FaceTime to do video interviews.  Here are some pointers to be ready to sign on to the video interview and be camera ready.

Get the video conferencing application:  When scheduling your video interview, find out what platform the interview is going to be using and download that application onto your computer, tablet or smart phone.

Determine the right tool to use:  Think about which device is the best one to use for an interview.  If your desktop computer is located in a busy kitchen, you may not have the privacy you need during the interview.  If you are going to use your phone or tablet for the interview, prop it up somewhere that gives you good light and privacy.  Don't plan to just holding your phone up for 30 minutes or more.  As you grow fatigued, you'll drop the phone down, not thinking about it.

Check your set-up:  Before you start your interview, do a dry run with a friend.  Try to have him call you through the video interview application, and critique your audio volume, your visual presentation and possibly your interview outfit!

Minimize distractions:  When you are gearing up for your video, get yourself in a quiet spot without distractions.  Your friendly feline may just try to steal the show by jumping in front of the camera.  She may have to be put in your laundry room for this call.  That puppy dog may just have to be outside your room during the call.  Put your phone on Do Not Disturb and possibly turn off any alerts that may pop up on your device.   If you are working from home with family there with you, alert them to your impending video interview, ask for their help in minimizing distractions, and if at all possible, lock the door to your interview spot.  I go even further, and post a sign that I'm on a video interview and to not disturb.

Ready for your close-up:  Now you need to think about what the camera will see during the interview.  Dress for an interview.  Remember that simplicity often is the best plan for your outfit.  A simple blazer or button down shirt almost always projects the image you want for a professional interview.  Note:  Avoid prints, including stripes.  On video interviews the visual elements may not be as sharp as they are in person.  Prints, especially optic prints can read really poorly on a video interview.  Small pinstripes on a shirt or blouse can do the same thing.  They can attract the eye of your interviewer, and distract them during the interview.  Keep it simple.  Simple business clothes, minimal accessories, good grooming and a welcoming smile can be all you need.

Pay attention to your surroundings:  When you prep for your video interview, look at what the camera will capture in your interview.  If you can tidy up your background, do it.  If you can switch your camera's location to something that has a very subtle background, do it.  Also look at the camera angle.  If you have your computer set up to shoot up, is the camera going to be focusing on that lazily turning ceiling fan?  Is it going to be shooting straight up your nostrils?  If the angle is bad, fix it.

Lighting:  To put your best face forward, have some light on besides just the glow of your device.  Having a small lamp directly next to your device that casts warm light on your face is helpful.  While it is nice to have a ray of sunshine brighten your day, it can wreak havoc if it hits the camera or casts strange patterns on you or your surroundings.  Keep that in mind when planning your call, and remember sunlight shifts during the day.  You may want to see how the light is at your interview spot before you have the call.

Have what you need within reach:  This is an interview.  Have your resume, the job description and anything else that would be helpful at your interview spot in advance of the call.  For me, seasonal allergies are kicking in right now, causing my throat to dry out.  This is the worst thing to have happen during a video call.  Having water, coffee, tea, etc. at the ready, as well as a cough lozenge is a must have for me.  A box of tissues can also be good in case you need to sneeze (or if sweat is beading up on your brow due to interview nerves).

Be ready:  Once you have gotten yourself ready for the call, be ready to start the interview at the time scheduled.  Don't be late.  Be at your interview spot 10-15 minutes early.  Just think of all the time you saved by not having to travel to the interview.

Technical difficulties happen:  This may be the first time your interviewer is trying a video interview.  Understand if things take longer to get started, if there are interruptions, or if you need to reschedule the call.  If all else fails, often video interviews revert to phone interviews to make the best use of your time together.  Roll with the punches, and be understanding that everyone is trying their best in this situation.

Don't forget you are on camera:  When you are normally sitting in front of your computer, you may gaze around the screen, click on notifications, close screens, etc.  When you are on a video interview, it is very easy to forget that you are on camera.  You may start scratching your head, rolling your eyes or get a glazed look on your face.  Don't do this!  You need to remember you are conducting an interview, and make sure you stay engaged during it.

End the call:  With video interviews, you don't have the same social cues that you'd have if it was in-person.  Your interviewer won't reach out to shake your hand or touch your elbow.  Your interviewer probably won't stand up to leave the interview room.  The interviewer should signal that the interview is concluded, and then disconnect the video call.  This time can be a bit awkward, but just sit still and let the video disconnect.  Then as a safety measure, I put a cover on my camera and avoid saying anything until I'm sure the call is over.

And for some levity, here's a cute meme I saw yesterday

Image result for dog video zoom meeting image

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