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Video Interviewing – tips for success 2020

September 22, 2020

No words seem to suffice to sum up the alterations to our lives at the moment. “Uncertain” doesn’t quite cut it, but we know we are all in this together and I for one have been so comforted by the collective spirit and resilience that the property industry has shown during these last few weeks.

The essence of our industry lies in our social interactions with each other and therefore the whole concept of social-distancing or self-isolation has an inevitable impact on our working lives. However, we have seen countless examples of how businesses are utilising technology to maintain normality as much as possible, even down to virtual team drinks on a Friday afternoon. We are all trying to adapt and innovate as quickly as possible, to ensure that our industry doesn’t just survive this but thrives in the post-Covid-19 world.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that instead of cancelling or postponing interviews, the vast majority of our clients are embracing technology to continue their recruitment plans. With this in mind, we thought it might be helpful to give you some tips to maximise success when it comes to remote interviewing.

Prepare the area for your interview

Almost all of us are now working from home and this does inevitably present some challenges in terms of potential distractions.

We all remember Professor Robert Kelly’s adorable children gate-crashing his BBC interview on South Korean politics. As silly as it may sound, I would highly recommend re-watching this as part of your interview preparation – and also, let’s face it, we can all do with a bit of light-relief at the moment

There are some lessons we can learn from Prof Kelly’s interview, particularly if you have children although this could also extend to housemates and adult family members, even dogs!

If you have a room in the house with a lockable door then use it (and remember to actually lock it)! Do not set up for your interview in the kitchen or any other room that people you live with are likely to come into. Tell everyone in the house that you have an interview that is really important to you and you cannot be disturbed.

As we saw with the BBC interview, even the best laid plans can go awry. Part of the hilarity of that situation is Prof Kelly’s response to his children, which was literally to stick his hand out to move them away, without addressing them and whilst stoically continuing his political analysis. Even the news anchor acknowledges the interruption before he does.

If you are interrupted, then recognise the intrusion before the interviewer does. Apologise and explain to the interviewer and then calmly address your intruders. If you can do all of this with a sense of humour then you will undoubtedly score points with the interviewer. The interviewer will almost certainly be able to relate to your embarrassment as we are all dealing with the same issues – whether it is a dog barking, child asking for their favourite toy or a bored sibling or parent seeking some company.

All of the platforms we have used for video calls have a setting that allows you to blur the background behind you and I would definitely recommend using this if you are at all worried about what is behind you. It also provides the interviewer with a greater ability to focus on you, rather than what books you have on your shelf or how many coffee cups are next to you.

Try to find a room in the house with good lighting and where possible natural light is preferable. Take a selfie to check you are happy with it.

Close all other applications/programs and webpages to ensure you don’t have any possible pop ups or notifications distracting you.

Practice makes perfect 

Whether it’s Microsoft Teams, Meets, Zoom, Pow Wow, Skype or even Facetime, do a test call with a friend or trusted person before your interview. KDH are offering to do this for all of our candidates before their interviews. This is particularly important if you haven’t used the particular platform before.

Also use this opportunity to gain feedback on how you come across on the call – we’ll give you some more tips on this later.

Check your internet connection to make sure it is stable or your telephone reception if it is just a phone interview. We would always suggest that if you are doing a video call then you have each other’s telephone numbers as well just in case the platform fails you for any reason and you have to resort to a call instead.

Test your computer’s webcam and audio to ensure that both are working and also ask your friend to report back on the quality of both so that you can make any adjustments before the interview.

Dress Code 

Whilst many of us are currently indulging in wearing slightly more relaxed attire than we might normally don in the office, make sure you still make the best first impression in an interview.

Plan what you are going to wear in advance and bear in mind that a video interview is unavoidably more visually focussed.

Non-Verbal Communication

It’s very easy to appear a little too relaxed when you’re on a video call from home. Try to picture yourself in a face-to-face interview setting, you would sit up straight and refrain from resting your elbows on the table and avoid other habits that (if you are anything like me) you might have fallen into recently such as resting your chin in your hand.

Smile, I cannot stress this enough – especially at the moment, people will feel instantly cheered by you and it will show strength in the face of adversity. As odd as this may sound, even if you are on a phone interview rather than video, smiling is so important. It lifts your voice and imprints a positive image of you on the interview’s mind.

Eye contact is crucial when it comes to video interviews. For those who do not have experience of being in front of a camera, it may feel really unnatural but try to look at the camera lens as much as you can rather than at the interview’s image on your screen – or worse your own image (no one wants to come across as a narcissist). It’s perfectly fine to glance at the interviewer or your own image from time to time as a check but just try to keep your focus on the lens when you can as this is your replacement for eye contact. As in any interview, it is fine to have some notes with you but don’t fixate on these, just scan them from time to time if you need a prompt.

Advice for these times 

All of us are dealing with an unprecedented situation and it’s important to recognise this but to still put our best foot forwards.

At the beginning of almost every interview, there will be some general introductory chat between you and the interviewer/s and this is often where you create the most lasting impression. Showing empathy and relatability is really important, particularly at the moment.

Ask the interviewer how they are finding the inevitable challenges and try to find some area of common ground or even humour in your response to the same question. Use this as a way of demonstrating your ability to find innovative ways of addressing challenges. Perhaps you can talk about what steps you have suggested or implemented in your current role, such as instigating team socials on a Friday evening or a virtual site visit with a group of clients.

Thank the interviewer for arranging or rearranging the interview to be conducted remotely. Show your understanding of the situation by being patient when it comes to feedback and the number of stages in the interview process.

Lots of our clients are still keen to appoint candidates but they will inevitably require more stages to ensure both parties really get to know each other and also decision making is likely to be more protracted due to additional checks and balances to mitigate risk and to ensure collective buy-in from hiring managers who cannot physically be in the same place.

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us: hello@kdhassociates.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help.

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