Long before the world heard of Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Webex, Lifesize Go or even WhatsApp, recruitment wasn’t always done eye to eye.
When arguably the greatest British soccer manager of all time Alex Ferguson went to Manchester United back in the 1980s, he soon realised when he began recruiting new stars that it was not possible for him to see every young player at lower league clubs in the flesh.
Consequently, Sir Alex became one of the first Premier League bosses to bring players onto his staff after watching them play on video. So, the notion that you can’t judge a person without seeing him/her in the flesh is often exaggerated to the point that recruiters are fearful of exploring such avenues.
In the current situation where movement is severely restricted under the Covid-19 lockdown, the use of video will, of necessity, be catapulted near to the top of recruitment methods.
If you feel somewhat fazed by that pronouncement as the person recruiting, then take a second out to sit in the shoes of those interviewees as they work out how to impress a future boss via a video stream. While the medium (Video or Skype) may be an issue for both sides, it is important to be clear that the message will still be the same.
The present will hopefully pass into post-Corona virus time that will allow much of the legwork to be done remotely before deciding in a face-to-face interview whether your shortlist throws up the right choice for you and your business. Similarly, it is apposite that the interviewee knows what a future job entails and the culture into which he will expect to flourish.
No 1 – Be Prepared
Like the boy scouts, ‘Be Prepared’. Read the job description and be sure you have the skills to fulfil the role. None of this is rocket science – you will be asked the usual questions about your competency and be prepared with your answers.
It is very tempting to watch yourself or your interviewer during a Skype session, but looking directly at the video camera is the only way to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer.
No 2 – Personalise your Answers
Don’t just give a stock answer, sugar coat them with your own anecdotal testimonies to confirm why you should be hired. Part of that personalisation is the way you deliver your answers – with strong eye contact and facial expressions.
One advantage of a video or phone interview is that you don’t have to remember everything you want to mention. Have notes in front of you. Keep your notes in an easily scannable format to get what you need at quick glance.
Remember, the golden rule is that first impressions last, so stay confident. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself, build a rapport with your potential employer, and obtain further information regarding the position and the company so that you can make the right decision, should you be offered the role.
No 3 – Dress to Impress
What you wear is one of the first unuttered statements you make on an occasion like this. Bad attire puts you at a disadvantage.
When it comes to what you wear, treat your Skype interview like an in-person interview and dress professionally from head to toe (or at least from head to waist!) A professional dress code with video interviews is expected, not excused.
Pick a quiet place to interview without an elaborate backdrop so that you can be the focal point on the screen. Remove anything distracting behind you and keep it neutral.
No 4 – Focus on Verbal Language and Body Language
These two attributes go together but often only serve to take from each other. You should never use big words to make an impression and if you do the chances are you will trip yourself up by not listening to the questions you are being asked as follow ups.
While a degree of nervousness is understandable and will be understood by the people on the other side, talking at a hundred miles an hour and fidgeting or gesturing to excess will become tedious over a 30/60-minute interview time slot.
Present yourself politely and calmly; starting with a firm handshake (there is nothing more unappealing than a limp attempt to shake hands), listen attentively to what you are asked and then answer in a clear voice. Remember to smile!
No 5 – Knock Them Out
While it is true that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, it is equally true that the last impression that you make could be the game changer in a tight finish between two contestants. Above all remember that long after those interviewing have forgotten what you said and your CV, they will remember how you made them feel. (See ‘Why non-verbal communication is crucial in an interview’.)
Interviews usually end with interviewee being asked – “Have you any questions for us?” It is the perfect time to make those interviewing feel good by asking them such things as – “What has been the secret of your company’s success” before thanking them for allowing you to have a shot at becoming part of that success. (See ‘Questions to ask at an interview’.)
No 6 – The More You Practice
Do mock interviews with your friends or family so that you are at home talking into a monitor. The first few Skype calls are likely to feel awkward, as you have to retrain yourself to watch the camera and not the screen; what to do with your hands or how loudly to speak. Play around with everything beforehand so that when it’s interview time, you can shine without being distracted by the program.
Getting Facebook notifications or emails during your interview is distracting and unprofessional. Before your interview, make sure all other windows on your computer are closed (especially if they make noise).
When you’re relying on video or phone equipment, there’s a good chance you’ll experience a technical glitch, a weak connection, interference or garbled signals. If you’re getting too many malfunctions, suggest to the interviewer to stop the call and reconnect.