The New Normal: job interviews via video

Many new processes have found their way into professional life. This begins even before the first day at work. Nowadays, many job interviews are conducted online, via video chat on Skype, Zoom, Teams, etc.
Written on 8/4/20

Many new processes have found their way into professional life. This begins even before the first day at work. Nowadays, many job interviews are conducted online, via video chat on Skype, Zoom, Teams, etc. The situation is not only new and challenging for applicants; employers and HR staff are also learning the right tone as they get to know each other on screen.

Even if everything seems new, when it comes to the most important parameters nothing has changed: good preparation, punctuality and a smart appearance are still essential. Of course, the interviewer cannot, in theory, tell if you are wearing tracksuit bottoms out of shot as well as a smart shirt or blouse, but since you want to fully concentrate on the interview and not worry whether the person you are talking to has glimpsed baggy grey trousers when they adjusted their webcam, dressing properly is recommended.

This brings us to the next point. Setting up the webcam properly determines the overall impression. It should be positioned so that you are looking into the camera. Also, make sure that your face is lit correctly - preferably not with your back to the window. Before the interview, check the sound quality with a test call so that the interview does not start with anxious seconds of "Can you hear me?” This also includes keeping your software up to date – it is best to run an update before the interview.

Nowadays you no longer showcase yourself by your appearance alone, but also by your choice of background. Since interviews usually take place from home, you are inevitably allowing a glimpse into your private life. It is a good idea to choose a neutral corner in your kitchen, office or living room; a completely white wall, on the other hand, is not very flattering and looks sterile. Whatever background you choose, avoid having beach photos, teddy bears or motivating banners in the background. Of course, most video conferencing tools offer artificial backgrounds, but they look the same: artificial and impersonal. So, if possible, a real environment is preferable. By the way, we advise against interviews in a park or café: the danger of distractions and noise is simply too great.

Disturbances should also be avoided within your own four walls: if possible, keep the door locked. Although we have all laughed at children or cats bursting into an interview or walking across the keyboard during TV interviews in recent months, this would only lead to stressful moments in a job interview. Also, warn everyone in your household what you will be doing so the interviewer doesn’t hear: "Honey, I’ve bought toilet paper!"

So if your equipment is working properly and – as in a conventional face to face interview – you are well prepared for the interview, you should just make sure to sit up straight and look directly at the camera. If there are any breaks in transmission, don't panic. Just wait for the outage to right itself a start again, giving an explanation if necessary. Basically, it is advisable not to speak too quickly and to use a few more pauses than usual to give the other person the chance to speak if there is a delay of a few seconds.

However, no matter which tips and tricks you use, the following still applies: it is, and remains, a job interview. What really counts is the experience and skills you can bring with you, how you perform and the questions you ask your potential future employer. Technology is there to serve you rather than vice versa.