NEWSLETTER – by James Caan CBE
James Caan’s Business Secrets
The Perfect Video Interview
I’ve been inundated with questions about the etiquette of a fundamental part of the new normal – the video interview. Companies are using these to replicate the traditional recruitment process as closely as possible. I have set out some vital guidelines to help you prepare for a phenomenon that I believe is here to stay on a permanent basis.
Virtual vs Reality – Treat Them the Same
The first, simple but vital factor that you need to remember is how employer’s are treating video interviews in the era of Coronavirus. In the absence of face-to-face interaction in person, they have had to put mechanisms into place that resemble the ‘old’ process as close as they possibly can. From their standpoint, they are preparing for a serious interview with a candidate, and your attitude should be no different. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming the challenge will be less strenuous because you have a computer screen in between you and the hiring manager.
Meticulous Preparation is Always a Winner
You are more likely to be rewarded if you prepare meticulously. First impressions really do make a difference virtually, and you need to think about how you are going to come across on camera. Attire is a great way to start. Dress as if you would for a regular interview, it pays to demonstrate professionalism. In the lockdown period I’ve found myself to be exponentially more productive if I treat the working from home process as I would a regular day in the office. This should extend to interviews.
One benefit you have from being in a different room is the opportunity to set up prompts for yourself. Place notes behind your screen to aid your focus and add clarity to the points you make. I’ve found it to be a fantastic way to jog my memory when I am meeting with clients over Zoom.
Eye Contact and Body Language
It’s a fact that at least 55% of your overall communication comes across in the form of body language. It is a critical component of your ambience on a screen and will undoubtedly form a great deal of the interviewer’s opinion of you. Make sure your posture is appropriate for the topic at hand. You wouldn’t slouch in an interview in a boardroom, so make sure you don’t in your virtual interview.
Ensure that you make eye contact directly via the lens of the camera. If you are looking elsewhere around the room then it can imply a lack of assurance in your understanding. I speak from experience on this, it’s a regular occurrence on my Zoom calls, of which I make at least 10 daily.
Overall, positive body language exuberates confidence, and as a recruiter I can tell you that this is one of the most important traits businesses are looking for in a prospective employee.
Be creative with backgrounds
As I have mentioned, first impressions are crucial. Aside from your body language, setting your Zoom background in the most appropriate way possible will aid your cause. Gauge the culture of the company through your research and apply your knowledge.
An interesting background can help break the ice and settle you down, but you need to select something that is appropriate for the style of interview. Corporate companies will want to replicate the atmosphere of a boardroom, start ups are likely to be much more relaxed in what they consider pertinent. It is all about striking a balance between what is fun and what is tacky. Make use of the few differentiators that are available to you.
Master Screen Sharing
Speaking of differentiators, the screen sharing facility is certainly the feature that can help set you apart the most. I advise you to set some time aside before your interview to watch some tutorials. Go away and practice what you learn before you meet your potential employer to alleviate mistakes, it will hugely off-putting for them if your technology fails when it is needed most. Try to replicate the business scenario and commentate on your data with conviction. 38% of a presentation’s credibility is based on tone of voice. If you combine your screen sharing with stellar commentary, you are on the right path to securing the job.
Proof in the stock market
I am unequivocal in my position, and it is backed up by the performance of video-sharing platforms. Just take a look at the valuation of Zoom in 2020- it has skyrocketed, especially in comparison to the wider market. There is a clear, underlying message in simple stock market valuations like this- virtual recruitment is here to stay.
Video interviews are going to form a fundamental part of the recruitment process long into the future. Treat virtual as you would treat reality. Prepare meticulously. Work on eye contact and body language. Be creative with your backgrounds. Master screen sharing. Now is the time for you to take these tips on board and put yourself in the strongest position possible for your next video interview.
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