How to ace your technical interview

How to ace your video interview

 6 May 2021

With video interviews taking off overnight during the first lockdown and, according to current thinking, looking like they’re very much here to stay even when some of us start to return to our offices, it is worth making sure we have cracked the art of the remote interview.

 

Why are they staying

Both potential employers and candidates have found video interviewing to be convenient. They are efficient, cutting out the time it would take to travel to the interview venue and can easily be worked into a schedule, making it far more straightforward to manage both the interviewer’s and the applicant’s diaries.

Also, given that many client meetings are likely to be taking place by video in the future, it gives the interviewer the opportunity to evaluate how you would come across in front of a client.

 

How to prepare

As with most things, the devil is in the detail so make sure the basics are covered:

  • If you have been using a work laptop and will be using a personal one for your interview, check that you can easily access whichever meeting platform the interview will be taking place on from that device.
  • Try a trial run to make sure you have decent Wifi.
  • Check that your camera is properly aligned, and that the microphone is on and at a comfortable level.

Your home environment doesn’t have to look like an office and there will be no judgements on the quality of your bookcase! However, you will want a background which is free from unsuitable clutter to avoid detracting attention and looking unprofessional.

 

What should I wear

This is a frequently asked question, especially as most of us have adopted a more “dress down” wardrobe over the last year or so – some of us may not fit that easily into our pre-lockdown wardrobe anymore either!

The old rule of dress up, not down still definitely applies. Interviewers will be impressed that you have made the effort to wear a smart outfit or shirt and tie, even if they are relatively casually attired. Some employers may let you know that it is completely acceptable to dress more casually for a second interview but unless they do, always err on the side of caution.

 

Make a connection

There is no doubt that it is far harder to read body language when staring at a screen. For a start, we haven’t had the initial niceties of a handshake and a “hello, nice to meet you”. We are also focusing solely on a head and shoulders shot so it is more difficult to pick up on the signals we naturally would in person.

Try to replicate your “in person” eye to eye contact as far as possible. Checking that your image is properly set up beforehand will help enormously, so you are comfortably looking at the interviewer and vice versa. If there are two or more interviewers, remember to try to look at the camera and not at each interviewer as they are speaking. A trick frequently used is to put a sticky note on your PC with an arrow saying  something like “Camera here”, which will help.

As with any interview, preparation is key. If you are under-prepared, your nerves will be easier to read during a video call which focusses on a head and shoulders shot. If you have done your research beforehand, you will feel more comfortable and have a relaxed but professional demeanour. A video interview will enable you to place aide memoir notes just out of shot. Don’t study them obviously though or start shuffling papers around.

It is perfectly ok to ask if you can make notes during the interview, especially if the interviewer is giving you detailed information about the role. Only scribble essentials though as you won’t want to break the flow of the conversation.

 

Expect the unexpected

Prime anyone else in your house or flat to avoid disturbing you for the duration of the interview. Nice as it is to be brought a cup of tea while you’re working, you don’t want an interruption if you can help it!

As countless Zoom bloopers have shown, sometimes the unexpected just happens – the dog wanders in, the doorbell goes incessantly, your toddler bangs at the door calling for you……. the list goes on. If it happens, go with the flow. One thing that remote working has shown us is that we are all human. Just apologise and quickly deal with the situation or in worst case scenario, ask to rearrange. 

 

The hello and goodbye

We are all getting far better at this and have mostly learnt to avoid the awkward ‘goodbye wave’ at the end of meetings.  Although it can feel artificial, think what you would say at the beginning and end of an in-person interview. A brief “Hello, nice to meet you” at the beginning and a “Thank you for your time, it was really nice to meet you” at the end are still great ways to bookend the interview whether in person or on video.

 

Go to our website for more blogs on how to prepare for an interview, including handling competency based, and technical interviews.  

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