While some employers are conducting in-person interviews, many of them are still using video interviews—Zoom, Skype, WebEx, MS Teams, Facetime, etc.—to fill positions. Video interviews have become more of the norm because they’re more convenient for employers and job candidates.
Job candidates might prefer in-person interviews over video because they’re more personal—they can see where they’ll be working, might be introduced to their potential colleagues, and they can gauge the commute. There are many benefits to in-person interviews, but video is here to stay, at least for awhile.
Loren Greiff (rhymes with “Life”) and I had a conversation about six tips we’d give job candidates about video interviews. Loren is more than qualified to talk on this topic; she’s been in the position of hiring candidates as a director of marketing and a recruiter, among other roles, and now runs a coaching business focusing primarily on marketing executives.
We talked about three phases of the interview: before, in-the-moment, and after the event.
1. Research for the interview (Loren)
If ever there was a time to turn into a stalker it would be when researching prior to your interview. Like a bloodhound, you want to stay on scent, following the clues that lead to information that goes beyond the surface. Set up Google Alerts to open up the flow of real time data.
Nothing says you’re on top of it more than when you offer congratulations for a recent win, recognition for a new product launch, or acknowledge a corporate announcement during your interview.
Scour online resources like LinkedIn, the company’s blog, press releases, and corporate About Section. But also dig further. Owler.com is great for grabbing the size & revenue of the organization & it’s competitors. Check out Crunchbase.com for more entrepreneurial companies. Theorg.com, depending on the company, gives you org charts. Don’t forget YouTube to find out if the CEO or other leaders have videos or have been a past podcast guest.
Keeping track and using verbiage relevant to your role and experience are great winning strategies. If it’s a public company review their filings at sec.gov. And absolutely work your magic to get on some calls with your connections so you’re not wholly reliant on Glassdoor or Fishbowl.
2. Get mentally prepared (Loren)
When it comes to being mentally prepared, there are 5 key things to keep in mind during your interview.
1. Remember you’ve already done the heavy lifting (practicing and researching). Show up strong and end strong. That’s what people remember—the beginning and at the end and it’s called the recency effect, easy to visualize as the upwards arc of a smile.
2. Clean Space = Clear Mind. Setting up a clean and clutter free space and background helps eases the noise within. If you want to go for a virtual background, opt for something professional vs. a beach setting or outer space. You want the focus to be on you and what you’re sharing.
3. Pace your pace. You don’t want to put anyone to sleep or rattle on, so getting it just right matters. The ideal speed is about 115 words per min. (to find out what your pace is you can use a speech-to-text converter like IBM’s Watson). A steady pace allows you to connect with your interviewer and oozes confidence despite the butterflies inside.
4. Eye contact & body language. No matter what comes out of your mouth your eye contact and body language will be doing most of the talking. Look at the camera not yourself on your screen.
Eye contact builds trust and nearly 80% of all candidates don’t do this. You can turn off the video mirroring feature too and remove temptations. When you want to bring something big to life, don’t shy away from hand gestures especially those that draw closer to the heart when speaking about yourself more personally.
5. Review the job description, have it handy with your notes & PAR’s (problem, action, results) well rehearsed.
3. Mind your first impressions (Bob)
In a webinar I lead, I talk about the importance of enthusiasm, confidence, and preparedness. These are three characteristics interviewers are looking for in your answers and body language.
We normally think of the content of our answers as the most important component of the interview, and it is. But we can’t disregard body language because it plays such a huge role in communicating with others.
Consider enthusiasm, for example. Your facial expressions and body language tell the interviewer that you’re excited about the role at hand and working for the company. Loren makes an excellent point about hand gestures; don’t be afraid to emphasize your points.
Lack of enthusiasm gives the opposite message; you’re a little bit excited about the opportunity but not ecstatic. This is akin to asking someone over for dinner and the person saying, “Yeah, I guess so.” You wouldn’t take this as a good sign, would you.
Expressing confidence is also important, as it tells the interviewer that you’ll be confident in the role. The employer want assurance that you’ll do a standup job for their customers and employees.
Regardless of your mental state, you’ll feel more confident during the interview because you’ve prepared by researching the role, company, and the interviewer/s (familiarity breeds confidence).
4. Answer the tough interview questions with the PAR formula (Bob)
The questions I see people struggle with the most are behavioral-based ones. They’re more like directives that begin with, “Tell me about a time….” or “Give me an example of when….” Even the higher-level job seekers struggle with these type of questions because they’re not prepared for them.
The clients who are unprepared for these questions when I mock interview them tend to avoid the specifics of the problem they faced at work, their actions to solve the problem, and the result or results from their actions.
Instead, they start by saying, “This is what I’d do,” answering the question in a theatrical manner. I put on the brakes and say, “Stop! I want a specific example.” Let’s say the questions is “Tell me about a time when you trained your colleagues.” I expect to hear something like:
Problem: The company wanted to move from our antiquated CRM system to Salesforce.
Actions: I volunteered to train my colleagues in sales on how to use Salesforce.
After the software was implemented, I researched how to use it. I spent many hours watching training programs like Udemy for new users.
The company also sent me to hands on training.
I began to conduct group training sessions which were helpful, but I also found that some of my colleagues needed more individual training.
Result: With group and individual training my colleagues learned Salesforce to the point where they occasionally asked me questions. I estimate that I saved the company thousands of dollars.
5. Ask the interviewers questions at the end of the interview (Loren)
We both agree that the questions job candidates ask can be as important as the ones they give during the interview. Loren sees the questions candidates ask in three categories, Impact, Relevancy, and Culture.
For Impact the candidates can ask, “A year from now we’re celebrating. What will that be for and how will this impact you, the team and the company?” Or “How will you know you’ve made the right hiring decision 60 days from now?”
For relevancy, “With social distancing and remote work, what tools or practices has the company implemented to continue communication, collaboration, and support employees?”
For culture, “What do you like most about working at XYZ, and if you had one thing that had to change you wish it was?”
There are other questions candidates can ask, but these are some of my favorites, and you only have so much time at the end of the interview. Come prepared with other questions written down just in case the interviewers want to hear more (a good sign).
6. It’s not over until you follow up (Loren)
No matter what, don’t approach your thank-you note as if it’s an afterthought or another to-do item to check off the list. Thank-you notes (and yes it’s perfectly fine to send an email) are one of the best times to rack up extra points.
I remind clients that just because the interview is over, it doesn’t mean the decision has been made. I am a huge fan of including an embedded video (using either Loom or Dubb) as a way to set yourself apart to personalize your appreciation, express your interest, and reiterate why you’re the one.
But whether it’s an email, with or without video, keep it impactful and short. If they had let you know in the interview when they would get back to you—let them know you’ll reach out to them around that time. You want to be proactive but never a pest. Your best bet is to wait 5 days in between follow ups.
And, when you do follow up, don’t just make it about you and what you want. Add in a PS. something that’s about them. This is a surprisingly effective—in fact 90% of readers read the PS before the letter
Video interviews will most likely be around for a while. They’ve proven to be convenient and, in some employers minds, safer than in-person interviews. However, they present a challenge for many job candidates in the way they present themselves, as well as the way they answers the interviewers’ questions.
If you follow the tips Loren and I provide, you will do fine. Remember: research before the interview; get mentally prepared; research the position, company, and interviewers; answer the tough questions; ask intelligent questions when asked; and follow up in a timely and impactful manner.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com