Written by Jenna Wenkoff
As someone who recently “survived” the job hunting process, I wanted to share some video interview communication tips for my fellow job hunters.
These tips not only come from my personal experience, but from Rachel Feddema, the marketing manager at Goodlawer, and Scott Sargent who is a business writer at Stantec. Both were hired during the pandemic.
In-Person vs ‘Zoom’ Meetings
Whether we like it or not, video streaming software like Zoom and/or Teams appear to be the future medium of interviews. Remote interviews can feel daunting as a group of managers from anywhere in the world can sit in on the panel. An added bonus is the opportunity to apply for remote positions outside your geographic area.
Video interviews also save time for everyone involved.
I personally find it relaxing doing an interview in the comfort of my own home. I’m sure most of us know how much anxiety the process of commuting to an interview location can cause. Even finding the right office and then waiting until it’s “go time” can be stressful. Some video interviews are even pre-recorded, which takes the pressure off of having to react to questions live.
Video Communication Tips
With several interviews under their proverbial belts before landing a position, Scott and Rachel had very similar tips for how to communicate clearly in a Zoom interview.
I’ve grouped these into four main categories:
1. Body Language.
Looking into the camera is the same as looking at the person in the eye. This is important to remember as it’s easy to get distracted by the screen (or screens).
Rachel recommends hiding the video of yourself (yes this is an option in Zoom) to prevent your eyes from being drawn to your own face. Further, she suggests positioning the video of your interviewer close to the camera.
Scott recommends adjusting your chair height so your eye line is level with the camera. Trust me, nobody wants to look up your nose or feel like they’re being looked down on.
I’ve also found that using a fidget toy both helped me focus and prevented anxiety. Conversely, one of Scott’s tips was to avoid fidgeting and to keep your gestures minimal. If you’re like me and need to fidget in order to keep your gestures minimal, keep your fidgeting out of view of the camera.
It’s also good to work in a room that is clean, quiet and distraction-free. Whatever it takes to put all your attention towards the interview.
2. Ensure you have a decent setup and test it out prior to interviews.
Not surprisingly, this was an important point for both Scott and Rachel.
Scott recommends using a good external microphone (versus the internal one on your laptop). Make sure your camera lens is actually clean too so it doesn’t look like you’re sitting in a patch of fog.
Both recommend using bright lighting while avoiding harsh shadows on the face. Though it’s important to keep your background plain, this doesn’t mean stark. Rachel believes having something fun in the background can be a great conversation starter. Scott often has a couple of fun, geeky collectibles displayed behind him.
3. Test equipment but be prepared for technical issues.
It’s important to sign in to your video software early to leave time to “check your tech”. I would even recommend having a practice live chat with a friend the night before to ensure that your camera and mic are working.
Rachel recommends having backups for audio issues, such as earbuds, removing headphones and using laptop speakers if necessary.
Because I had not used Zoom often on my work computer, I had an issue where my internet started cutting out mid-interview. Having trouble hearing and seeing the interviewer was not ideal! I recommend either using an ethernet connection for interviews or even upgrading your internet plan while job hunting.
4. Do your research and create great notes.
A best practice is to always take notes before your interview and have them close at hand as a reference. Not only does this help with talking points about your background, but it can translate to confidence ‘on camera’ and you’ll appear better prepared.
Rachel recommends making notes to review the company beforehand, and some points/scenarios to relate to your past experience. You could even display these notes on your second monitor, or do what I did and prop up a notebook behind your computer.
I’ve never actually looked at my notes during the interview, but having them there made me feel more at ease. I’d definitely recommend checking out this article on communications interview questions beforehand.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to tap into your network.
I couldn’t have survived the job interview process without asking others for tips along the way! If you do your homework and are comfortable with the technology, live video interviews can be a far less nerve-wracking experience. I wish you luck, now go nail it that next one!