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Video Interviews: How to succeed

Planning job seeking activity and getting a new job - useful blogs

We all remember that classic BBC (live) interview when Professor Robert Kelly’s two very young children unexpectedly entered the room – and promptly stole the show before being ‘rescued’ by their highly embarrassed mother. All very amusing, but clearly disturbing the gravitas that Prof Kelly had wanted to bring to his subject.

Moral: Before embarking on a live, international BBC interview, ensure all possible ‘distractions’ are off-camera - and under control..

Not so long ago, most employers would rather have interviewed a prospective candidate face-to-face than on a screen. For obvious reasons. However, this has changed with Covid restrictions and lockdowns which have meant that this is now impossible – hence the consequent rise of the video interview – which of course does have the benefit that it takes up less time overall and, if necessary, both parties can do it from home. Really.

Therefore, the fact remains that this form of candidate-selection will have become the norm for some time to come. Social distancing is already a reality – particularly in the office – and it will suit most to adopt it as a standard form of interviewing technique.

As with any interview, preparation is vital and your preparation techniques will differ only by the fact that this is, actually, by video and much can be learned on the subject from the internet. However, you must remember that, just like a ‘proper’ interview, the interviewer is going to be interested only in you. So, whereas a beautiful background can seem, well, beautiful, it does nothing to improve either your own personal image or what you’re actually saying. (Indeed, a blank background is more likely to focus their attention on you.)

Your personal image is just as important here as it would be in a face-to-face interview. There is a tendency these days for some people, when communicating via Zoom, to be oblivious to their physical appearance - and how it may affect others. Although unlikely, appearing in a video interview in your pyjamas would prove both costly and disastrous. Make sure you appear in interview mode which, in itself, will have the effect not only of making you look more professional, but will help you mentally as well.

Of course, the rules have changed for the employer as well. They can no longer look the candidate in the eye to gauge their suitability. Important decisions have to be made on the strength of the candidate’s video performance. So, they too must be able to use the video to their advantage and an astute candidate will recognise – and possibly empathise - with this. Successful interviews come about when there is successful communication between the two and if you can approach the whole thing with an “OK, I know this may not be ideal for either of us, but let’s go!…” attitude, you may well gain the interviewer’s trust and sympathy.

It’s like reaching across the desk to shake hands.

Key Points

  • Preparation, preparation, preparation.
  • Check your appearance: are you in interview mode?
  • Always strive for full communication
  • Appreciate that your interviewer is doing their job under potentially difficult circumstances.

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