Everybody’s doing it.
Even before COVID-19 struck the world, employers have been relying on virtual interviewing to screen out candidates. It’s inexpensive and way less time-consuming. There are several types of video interviews employers use. Make sure you’re savvy in all 4 of these formats.
1:1 Webcam Interview
The most common webcam interview is the one-on-one interview where it’s you and one other person. This is the easiest of interviews in terms of building rapport because you need only concentrate on one person, note their responses, and shape your performance accordingly.
You should look at your camera aperture as much as possible. It’s way more important to appear to be making eye contact with your actual interviewer on the other side of the connection, vs trying to make eye contact with their screen image or (as we’re all guilty of), checking yourself out as you talk.
Virtual Panel Interview
The virtual panel interview is also very common. It’s you and 2-5 people on the employer’s side. This can be a bit nerve-racking and a bit trickier because, while it’s important to note everyone’s reaction to your comments, you also don’t want to have your eyes looking like they’re darting around the whole time you talk.
Realize that these folks are probably not in the same room with each other. They are probably not even in the same zip code. Also, realize they may not work together regularly, they may not know each other, and they probably didn’t coordinate very much at all before the call. As such, things may be awkward.
The virtual format doesn’t make for easy ad-hoc discussions, so don’t expect a flowing conversation amongst colleagues. Instead, they’re likely to each have a few set questions they’re going to ask. For them, the reason to be on the call is not to create a forum, rather to all witness your interview at the same time, which eliminates the possibility of interview bias, ensures they’re all working from the same content, and ultimately saves the company time (and money).
The good news is you will likely only have to concentrate on addressing one person at a time: the person who asked the question. Also, you can pick up on the culture of the company by how this group of people handles things like talking over each other and waiting for their turn to talk.
Group Video Interview
The group video interview is the interview that most closely resembles a reality TV show. It’s you, the interviewer (usually an HR rep), and your competition. Sounds like fun, eh? In this type of interview, the other players in the game don’t have very much incentive to make you look or sound good. People will inevitably be vying for air time, much as they do on those reality shows: “You should pick me because….”
And you should try to stand out, but you want to balance this with showing off some interpersonal skills as well.
The reason companies hold group interviews is not merely to save time – though that’s a big part of it. Usually they want to see how you are in a group setting and how you handle stress. The job to which you’re applying most likely will have an element of needing to be in group video chats or working with cohorts of people in some way. So, show off your skills: complement others, use segues that acknowledge other speakers, be silent and attentive as others talk.
Smile, even laugh, but don’t nod your head in agreement, lest you underscore their answer and undermine your own.
And, if you have time, make sure you’re an expert with the video-conferencing technology. It’s probable something will go wrong or an interviewer will be unsure how to do something. Saving the day is an excellent way to stand out.
The ultimate way to save time for the employer is using a recorded interview because then they don’t have to be there at all. A lot of companies are now recording themselves asking questions or just giving candidates a list of questions and inviting candidates to give a video interview. This is more like a monologue than an interview and, as you’ll find, it’s hard to talk to a camera for any length of time with zero reaction from an audience.
Just look at all the talk show hosts doing recordings in their homes while sheltering in place. Even these polished presenters can seem awkward at times because they have no sense of which jokes are working.
The key to acing a recorded interview is to smile while you speak, to look into the camera as if gazing at an old friend, and to show emotion…. to reveal yourself. In order to do this last part, you have to know yourself first, so ask that old friend or a new colleague how you come off in conversations, what they like about talking with you, and bring it to your recorded interview.
As with any interview, end with questions. When you’re listening to the interviewer’s answer, consider looking at the camera an catching their image out of the corner of your eye so you can react appropriately. They are more likely to feel heard if they feel your eyes on them.
When closing out, know your software! If possible, push the End Call button without taking your eyes off the camera. Let the last thing they see be your warm, gracious smile, not the top of your head or a puzzled, serious, relieved look on your face while you search for a way to end the call.
Don’t send a thank-you note immediately. Let the interview sink in a bit so you can reflect on what you did well, what you didn’t do so well, and what you may have forgotten to say. Then follow-up, reiterate your interest, and fill in the gaps.