Before your next online interview, make sure you’ve mastered the basics so you can stand out as a candidate.
For the majority of companies across all industries, video conferencing has become the new normal. Whether it’s to help facilitate remote work, bring people in disparate locations together for meetings, or conduct a video job interview, video calls are only increasing in frequency and importance.
If you’re an executive looking for your next role, your video presence is going to become a factor in your “hireability.” This means you’ll have to master:
- Having a professional-looking setup for your in-home video conferences
- Becoming proficient in all major video conferencing platforms
- Practicing your “soft” skills
- Being able to “expect the unexpected” like video malfunctions while working through them
Let’s take a look at each component individually, and how addressing each one can give you a leg-up not just in obtaining a new role but in excelling in that role going forward.
Have a professional-looking set-up for your online interview
If you’ve ever conducted a video conference or interview with multiple people, you’ve no doubt seen a variety of backgrounds for those dialing in. For some people prior to the last several weeks, working from home typically was an occasional occurrence. That means they may have a makeshift set-up for their remote workspace. If the area isn’t carefully organized or is usually used for something else in the house, it can appear either cluttered or not suitable for an environment conducive to work and productivity.
Prepare yourself for this reality. You don’t need an executive suite in your home to pull this off, but set aside one area of the house for your home office and remote work. Set up your space so that it appears professional and the background isn’t full of visual distractions. A bookcase, desk, or even a blank wall can suffice.
Having an area designated as your home office – even if it’s in another room that usually isn’t used for that purpose – helps you have an area where you can reliably hold video conferences without interruption. Try to set it up in a quiet room of the house with a door that shuts.
Again, you don’t need to have a massive conference room dedicated to making video calls. Just make sure your space is clean, clear, isolated if possible, and generally free of any potential distractions.
Become proficient in all major online interview platforms
Companies may vary in the different kinds of platforms they use, but they’re all using one type of video conferencing program or another. That’s why it makes sense to understand how to use these platforms now. Some popular video conferencing formats include Zoom, Skype, GoTo Meeting, or Microsoft Teams.
Once you schedule an interview, you’ll want to dedicate all your time to focusing on the interview itself. Your mental energy should be spent making the case for how you can bring value to the company and why you’re the right person for the position. If you spend too much time trying to figure out the controls on a video conferencing app on the morning of your interview, it can serve as a distraction to you.
Take the initiative now to sign up for accounts with the most popular video conferencing applications and learn how to use them. Test your computer’s webcam to make sure it functions effectively – most video conferencing platforms give you the ability to test your camera and microphone.
Practice your soft skills
Your resume may get you an interview, but a video interview is an opportunity to showcase the other skills that make you not just an effective leader, but the type of leader people in the organization will want to work with. These “soft” skills – or skills that have to do with interpersonal communication as opposed to hard skills you may list in your CV – can mean the difference between getting the position or not getting it. Consider your video interview to be the perfect time to demonstrate that you have these abilities.
What exactly are soft skills though? Below are just a few examples of soft skills that can manifest themselves in an online interview:
- Listening. When the interviewer describes an aspect of the position or a problem the company needs to solve, can you actively listen, comprehend the issue, and show that you understand it?
- Communication. How effective a communicator are you? Are you able to speak and write in concise, easy-to-understand sentences? These types of traits are often conveyed during an interview. When you’re interviewing, you’ll want to speak clearly and slowly so your interviewer understands you.
- Body language. Do you have confident, professional body language? During video interviews, it also helps to adopt a positive demeanor – smile when appropriate. Sit up straight and nod to show recognition.
- Leadership. If a company is looking at you for an executive role, they want to know that you can come into an organization, assess its capabilities at a high level, and either keep it steering on the right course or prescribe how to get it there. That’s why you’ll want to show up to the interview with some sort of strategic plan in place for your position. It might not be fleshed out until you understand more about the role, but companies will want someone who’s forward-thinking.
These types of skills can help give you an edge, showing that you’re well-equipped to succeed in the role and that you’ve been able to do so before.
Expect the unexpected during your online interview
Finally, participating in video conferencing means you’ll want to expect the unexpected. Your internet connection could cut out during the middle of your online interview. One of your children may jump into the frame or cry in the background. Your video conferencing app may not work when you need it to.
Don’t get flustered by these types of issues – things like this can happen from time to time. Just do your best to minimize them before a scheduled interview – for example, pull up your video conferencing app at least 30 minutes prior and make sure there are no issues. Check your wireless router to ensure the connection is performing optimally.
If something does happen, adopt an unflappable attitude that will show your interviewers how you’re able to “roll with it” even when things don’t turn out as expected, turning a negative into a positive.
By focusing on your video presence now and readying yourself for the inevitability of increasing online video interviews you’ll get a leg up on your competition. You’ll also show the companies you speak with how prepared you are to work in this new, remote-focused environment.