Video interviews have become very common during the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying lockdowns.
But video interviews were a thing long before “lockdown” was a word any of us were familiar with. And they’re likely to remain a common way job interviews are conducted long into the future.
Succeeding at them is an important skill if you’re applying for all kinds of engineering jobs.
If like most of us, you’re more familiar with job interviews where you are in the same room as your interviewer, there are a few key differences to bear in mind if you want to land the role:
How to succeed at video job interviews
1) Check your set-up
The one key element of extra preparation needed for your video interview is the technology you are going to use to connect to your interviewer. You need to check:
- Software – be sure that you have the correct software or app installed – this will commonly be Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Google Hangouts – and that you are comfortable using it.
- Hardware – make sure that you have a working webcam and microphone. They’re built-in to most laptops these days, but be aware if you’re using another device. Either way, you should check to make sure your webcam and microphone produce a clear image and audio.
- Connection – is your internet connection stable? If not, you’ll ideally want to take steps to rectify it before your interview date rolls around.
- Distractions – be sure to mute all other nearby devices. This includes your mobile phone and the device you’re using for your interview. If you’re worried you might forget, leave yourself a reminder.
2) Choose your backdrop
We’re not talking about a clever digital setting or cat-face overlay here. Instead, choose a part of your home that is both quiet and tidy with good lighting.
Make sure that any personal items that you don’t want a prospective employer to see are removed. Equally, if there is anything you can casually place in the background of the shot that may reflect well on you, there’s no harm in adding them for the duration of the call.
You should also take the time to notify any housemates or family members that you’ll be having an interview so they can try and remain quiet.
3) Act like you’re there in person
If you want to succeed in your virtual interview, the best plan is to act as if it was happening in person. There are three important ways you should do this:
- Dress professionally – just because you’re not in the same room as your interviewer, you can’t afford to activate your camera while wearing your onesie. Full, smart professional attire is a must. It’s equally as good for cultivating the correct mental attitude in yourself as it is for impressing your interviewer.
- Arrive early – for a normal job interview, you’d arrive 10-15 minutes early. Do the same when “arriving” at your video interview to make sure you are all set to go and you’re not rushing into position.
- Do the research – don’t overlook the usual preparation work you would do before an interview. Look into the company. Match the key areas of your CV with the requirements of the job role. Plan out a couple of good questions to ask in return.
4) Overcome the screen barrier
It’s much easier to form a rapport with your interviewer when you’re in the same room. With a screen in the way, you need to make a real effort to smile and make eye contact (with the camera of your device).
You actually have a slight advantage over an in-person interview in that you will usually have a shot of yourself superimposed in the corner of the screen. This can help you ensure your body language is open and positive.
However, if you think you may fall into the common trap of looking too long at yourself rather than the person you’re talking to, consider deactivating it or covering up that part of the screen!
Your tone of voice is another important aspect to be aware of. Aim to stay enthusiastic throughout. All of us tend to drone a little if the question prompts a long-winded answer, so you need to watch out for this.
If you haven’t done a video interview before, it’s worth having a few practice runs to get into the habit of using your webcam and talking to the screen. You might ask a friend or family member if they would be willing to be your “interviewer” so you can try everything out. Read our earlier blog on interview tips dos and don’ts for more help. Click here.
6) Stay calm but commit
Finally, most people are understanding of small hitches that often appear in the first stages of a video call. Just relax, interviewers understand.
There’s also no need to worry if you don’t get immediate feedback. Engineering recruitment – like any industry – can have multiple people at different levels of a company involved in making the final decision on who to hire.
As long as you’ve done everything you can to present yourself as professionally and well as you would at a “normal” interview – plus the extras mentioned here – you have done everything you can to secure your new engineering job.
What kind of engineering job are you looking to apply for?
Ernest Gordon is a specialist engineering recruitment company. We set up candidates all over the UK with interviews for their ideal jobs every day.
Let’s have a chat about the job that you have in mind.