Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.
During the coronavirus pandemic, job seekers are less likely to go to an employer's workplace for an in-person job interview. Many interviews will be done over the phone or videoconferencing platforms. We've already touched on phone interviews; here's how to ace video interviews.
Video interviews can be more nerve-racking—and revealing—than phone interviews. With video, recruiters can see and read your body language. They can judge professional appearance and your general bearing. This first meeting is when you make indelible first impressions.
Make the Most of Your Setting
Think of the room and setting you use for video interviews as your studio. Avoid rooms with a lot of glass, and do not sit facing a window, as this will cause an echo. I've done many interviews in a clothes closet. The clothes can't be seen but they help deaden outside sounds and increase your privacy. They make an especially good choice when coronavirus has you and your family, pets or roommates on top of each other almost constantly.
Place your laptop or webcam at a distance that shows you at your best. Somewhere between four to six feet away usually works well. Frame your head and shoulders in the shot with a plain background so that nothing detracts attention from you.
You probably have your laptop on your desk, and you look down on it as you work. In this position, your computer's camera lens is pointing upward and showing you at an angle from beneath your chin—not flattering.
A simple solution to this problem is to put your laptop on a pile of books so that the lens on your device is exactly at your eye level.
Dress Code: Professional
Even if the company dress code is casual, put on your most professional outfit for the video interview. A professional appearance shows your respect for the company, occasion and interviewer. Additionally, pulling your outfit together will help focus your thoughts on the upcoming interview and the points you want to make about how you can meet the job's needs.
When you talk to someone in a face-to-face conversation, you normally make eye contact. Do the same in a video interview. Make sure you are looking into the camera and not down at the image or the interviewer—or your own image—on your laptop screen. Looking down can make you appear to be shy, embarrassed, lacking self-confidence or deceptive, and none of these are the impression you want to make—and they are all avoidable. Smile as you talk, just as you would in normal conversation. What the interviewer will experience is a warm and confident candidate who isn't afraid to make eye contact.
I always put a sticky note on both sides of my computer's camera lens; this draws my attention to where my focus should be.
And if you are worried about forgetting important points during the interview, write reminders on more sticky notes, and attach them to the sides of your computer or on the wall behind it.