Ensure Your Video Interview is Flawless From Your Indefinite Home Office

Posted by Emily Leinbach on April 13th, 2020


Originally published on LinkedIn by Rachel Kohn (Principal at The Bowdoin Group).

If you’re like me, over these last few weeks you’ve found yourself having to convert your dining room, living room, bedroom, or—in the case of one of my girlfriends—bathroom into a make-shift home office and buckle down with a totally new routine to work from home. (I stopped complaining about my uncomfortable chair after I saw her setup.)

With new routines come new challenges. I’m fortunate that my schedule is still filled with conversations with both hiring managers and senior-level executives who continue to move the hiring process forward. 

But these conversations look different than they usually do. Executive-level candidates are asking how best to prepare for virtual interviews. During this crisis, they are being asked to:

  • a.) Take the job without ever meeting in-person; or 
  • b.) Get to the point where when travel restrictions loosen up, they can meet with the hiring team in person and decisions can be made quickly.

Here is the advice I’ve been giving them to excel in their video interviews:

  • Take a Stand—Literally: If you’re able to find a space in your home where you can position your laptop (or smartphone, if necessary) to be at eye-level with your laptop when you’re standing, your posture immediately improves. You can even strike that “power pose,” if you so choose!
  • Silence Notifications: In a regular interview, you’d make sure your phone and smartwatch are silenced, but do you know how to silence notifications across all your messaging apps on your laptop? Think about Slack, iCalendar, Google Calendar, Gmail, iMessage, etc. You can set these to “Do Not Disturb” or just quit them completely to ensure you won’t be pinged mid-interview.
  • Be Prepared—Physically and Mentally: Make sure to have your notes easily accessible (if you don’t have a printer handy, you can jot down some notes on Post-Its so you’re not toggling between screens), find a quiet place where you’ll have as few disturbances as possible (bathrooms and laundry rooms have been hot spots), and use a neutral or simple background (Morgan Mosher from T3 Advisors has some great tips here). Beyond that, think about organizing your examples effectively using Bowdoin’s favorite interviewing tip: the STAR method.
  • Be Proactive: It may actually help your candidacy to send a note 24 hours in advance to your contact or the hiring manager to give them a sense of what to expect. If you know your environment isn’t conducive to the best interview scenario (kiddos, chirping lovebirds, a partner, or roommate who lives on conference calls), you can set yourself apart by proactively sharing what to expect so you’re not ruffled and neither is your interviewer.
  • Ask for Flexibility (and Be Flexible): Now’s the time to be more flexible than usual about interview times as people’s work lives and personal lives have morphed into one. You can request an off-hours interview if you need to wait for your kids to go down for a nap, and be understanding if the hiring manager needs to get creative with scheduling.
  • Have a Contingency Plan: It goes without saying, but make sure you’ve downloaded the conferencing technology, you’ve tested it, and you have a backup plan in case your computer (or the other person’s) video platform fails. This could be making sure you have their phone number so you can call them directly in case the video doesn’t work.

And MOST importantly:

  • Be Your Authentic Self: Embrace this! Let the person on the other side of the screen get to know youroll with the mishaps, be humanbecause the more you can form a rapport, the more likely you’ll make a real connection. 

How are you preparing for video interviews? Do you have questions about what you should do or expect? Shoot me an email and I’d be happy to provide guidance: [email protected].

P.S. There are some pretty great resources out there, like the Wall Street Journal’s “Tips for Becoming the Best Video Version of Yourself,” so comment below if you have any other favorites so we can share them with the world!

Photo from Dean Stevens from Unsplash

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