Online Interview tips with
The COVID-19 Pandemic made a lot of people stop, take stock and wonder where they were going. A nationwide reassessment of what motivates us in our day to day lives took place and for a significant number, they came to the realisation that they needed a change.
This phenomenon has been dubbed the “Great Resignation” by some as the pandemic pushed workers to chase new opportunities, or the treatment of some employees by their employers during the lockdowns made them seriously consider a change.
“There’s definitely a lot of people taking a leap of faith but also there is still some great apprehension there” notes Ciarán Hourican, Managing Director of H-Training, specialists in Interview Coaching, Sales Training, Leadership & Management Courses and Career Coaching & Development.
“It’s safe to say that things haven’t settled totally yet, so as much as people would like to perhaps explore new avenues and jump into an exciting opportunity they may be airing on the side of caution as financially things are still very precarious for a lot of people.”
Throughout the pandemic job security was a huge priority for employees and now as we tentatively emerge into greener pastures there is an element of pent-up demand in the job market. The previous 18 months saw a significant drop in the amount of job movement that would have usually occurred, so what we’re beginning to see now is simply a natural by-product.
The Rise of Video Interviews
Obviously one of the biggest changes to the business world was the advent and normalisation of video interviews. For some people, the thought of doing an interview is daunting enough, however when you introduce the technological element it becomes an even bigger challenge –
“What we’re actually seeing at the moment is a lot of people being left behind in this new ‘hybrid’ world. There’s still a huge number of individuals whose digital literacy skills are perhaps not up to scratch and they now feel they are at a disadvantage when it comes to these interviews.
“So, let’s say someone applies for a job and they’re invited for a video interview, the panic then sets in. They may be someone who thrives in a traditional, face to face interview environment but the addition of the video call will cause great stress as its just seen as another potential sticking point.”
However, it’s not all stress and anxiety, video interviews actually eliminate a lot of the worries that come with their in-person counterparts
“With in person interviews you don’t need to worry about travelling to the interview location, finding the building, making sure you get enough sleep the night before and that dreaded wait in the corridor prior to heading in – With a video call that’s gone now, you’re in the comfort of your own home and you can really focus on what’s important. You’ve got a lot of advantages when engaging in a video interview, I’ve seen some fairly unorthodox stuff, I’ve seen a person stapling notes to their curtain behind the monitor during the interview, placing post-it notes around the screen.
“You can ultimately have notes like this dotted around for the interview but of course we’d never recommend reading content from a page or note during an interview, it’s very obvious to spot and comes across quite poorly. Instead focus on some condensed notes, key points you want to hit. The interviewer can’t see these notes, just you, so remember to use this to your advantage!”
Another key point to remember is that these interviews typically don’t last as long as an in-person meeting – “Due to the nature of Zoom or Teams, whatever is being used, it’s just far less personable, it can be sometimes difficult to hold a ‘natural’ conversation as there may be delay on the line which disrupts the flow. Because of this, the interviews tend to wrap up fairly quickly.”
Keep It Calm
So, what can you do in order to make the process as smooth as possible?
“Well firstly try and familiarise yourself with the video conferencing software you’ll be using – The main players are usually Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams. Try and get in and play around with the software prior to the interview, head into the settings, change the screen sizes, test the microphone, get really comfortable and experiment!
“You’re doing this in order to take the additional pressure of grappling with a video conferencing tool for the first time right before you do the interview, this is done to make life easier for yourself.
“However, probably one of the biggest tips I can give anyone is to use headphones. This is done in order to prevent feedback – Sometimes when a person is speaking on the other end of a video call your laptops microphone can pick up the speech coming through the speakers creating a loop of static noise and feedback. Now this doesn’t happen every time or to everyone, but by using headphones you’re just eliminating the issue totally.
“I’d also stress the importance of heading to an area where you cannot be disturbed, obviously this isn’t possible for absolutely everyone but having a quiet, distraction free environment is preferable. However if a baby starts to cry in the background of a call or a child walks into the room in the middle of a meeting, don’t worry, this is the way we all work now and it’s not the end of the world.”
Lighting & Technical Issues
Something we all fall foul to at some point or another is lighting issues. Don’t get your lighting right and your potential employer might end talking to a shadow, Ciarán explains –
“It’s absolutely crucial to ensure you’re not backlit. If you’re sat in front of a window with light coming through it or even if you have a lamp behind you, you’ll end up turning into a silhouette. If this happens it’s very difficult to read a persons facial expressions and to actually grasp a sense of them.
“Position yourself in front of solid, preferably plain background and if you’re worried about appearing too dim grab a lamp and place it on the desk in front of you, directly lighting your face.”
Inevitably, technical problems do happen. It’s part and parcel of the entire process but they’re not the end of the world and be easily fixed. The key is to not panic, notes Hourican –
“It’s important to remember that you’re not going to be not selected for the role because there was a technical issue during your interview. You won’t be penalised for issues like this that are out of your control, most interviewers will even allow you to reschedule the call if the technology is being particularly unhelpful. It genuinely happens to everyone, even me.
“Last summer I was working with a large client of mine, around 30 people in the group and the minute I got onto the call the software booted me out, it happens! If it does happen just remember to take a breath, compose yourself as best as possible and persist.”
Thanks to the introduction of remote working, the world has gotten a lot smaller. As Ciarán puts it: “We’ve a much bigger pond now in which we can swim” and the new opportunities that come with it are not to be shied away from. If you’re someone who’s currently in the midst of hosting interviews, the H-Training team has you covered here too, offering comprehensive corporate group interview training and interview board training also.
For all of your interview training needs, get in contact with Ciarán and H-Training today.