With COVID-19 having changed the world for ever, webcam interviews may be here to stay…like it, or not. There are plenty of things that you will need to get right on the day and so Anthony McCormack shares a series of tips and tricks to you get well prepared.
So you have secured an interview, presumably for a company and job role you find attractive.
Then you discover the interview is going to be in a video conference or webcam format. Zoom has become incredibly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Should you be preparing and presenting in a different way for a webcam interview?
Are the processes and protocols different or do the same rules apply?
For any interview, whether in person, or online, my standard interview preparation techniques always apply:
But there are a whole new set of tips and tricks I would like to share to help you avoid the snakes and climb the ladders of a webcam interview.
I would highly suggest to ‘test your tech’ beforehand, especially if such an appointment is not part of your regular routine. For example, ensure a strong and, ideally, a high-speed network connection, reliable power supply and appropriate sound quality in advance.
You should also do some dry runs from the perspective of ensuring that you are comfortable using the technology, especially if you are screen sharing during the interview. This will hopefully mean you won’t get stuck but will also help you to appear confident as you navigate the appointment.
Pre-empt and plan to avoid any potential disturbances. Some of those which happen regularly include: distracting computer pop-ups or alerts, other phone calls, babies and children demanding attention, dogs barking, doorbells ringing, miscellaneous alarms.
For a telephone or webcam interview, it’s best to select a quiet location, free from distractions and in an environment that allows you to best focus on the task in hand. However, in the webcam scenario you also have to consider aesthetics. I would recommend a clean, clear uncluttered background, avoiding any personal photos, furniture or decoration. A white wall behind you will be perfect and remember, things always look better when captured through a clean camera lens.
Avoid waving at the camera!
My suggestion is to avoid waving which is for some reason people’s natural reaction when faced with a webcam! I recommend to commence as you would a ‘regular’, interview. Keep it simple: “Hi, good afternoon, I’m Anthony McCormack, it’s good to meet you.”
This should go without saying – but it often not adhered to. Dress for this interview as you would for any other professional interview, typically smart traditional business dress. Although the interview is via a screen, it is still a personal interview and you will be assessed on your presentation as much as everything else. Always err on the side of overdressing, even if this feels weird in your home. Do not be put off if the interviewer is dressed more casually than you. After all, you are the one being interviewed – not them! I also gather that the sound is likely to be better with earphones on, however, I would personally suggest avoiding these, with a view to presenting visually as close as you can to how you would for a face-to-face appointment.
An interviewee’s body language can be even more obvious when it appears on the screen, and therefore, that becomes almost more important than in a ‘regular’ interview. So use open body language, keep a good level of energy, be animated without being distracting and keep half an eye on your positioning on the small-screen.
It is easy to forget to smile
With more than usual to think about as you interview online, it is easy to forget to smile. The dangers of that is that if you are poker-faced throughout the process, this may hamper any rapport you could pick up and you could come across as too serious or dull. The best way to engage with the interviewer and project your personality across is to smile. Remember, looking at the camera is in place of maintaining eye contact. If you are watching the screen, ensure the camera is very close by otherwise you’re going to look shifty.
Take extra care to speak clearly as it is easier to be misunderstood on a video conference versus being there in person, especially if technology/environment is less than ideal. This may mean you should speak more slowly especially if you are nervous, prone to speaking fast or have an accent that may not be familiar to the interviewer.
With technology becoming more reliable and webcam interviews becoming more common, more often than not, things go ahead without glitches. However, I suggest, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Swap telephone numbers in advance, that way you can switch to phone for just sound if you have an audio issue or ditch the video altogether and carry on. There is nothing worse than having to re-schedule another slot. And if you do have technical issues, don’t panic, shit happens. Apologise, troubleshoot and switch to plan B if needs be. There is no point in having a CV which says you are great under pressure and then freaking out when you can’t get your sound working!
So good luck and, if you are well prepared, you hopefully won’t need any.
Have you got any wins or learns regarding webcam interviews that you can share? I’m always keen to hear people’s ‘real-life’ experiences.
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