Social distancing measures caused by the coronavirus outbreak have led many companies to either freeze hiring, postpone hiring, or move the hiring process online. The most popular avenue organizations are taking to facilitate job interviews is video conferencing services such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, BlueJeans, IntermediaAnyMeeting, and Cisco Webex.

SEE: Top 100+ tips for telecommuters and managers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

However, this way of interviewing is different for organizations new to the remote working style, said Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources at Indeed.

“This big social experiment that we’ve all been dumped into is causing us to change the way we’ve done things for a long time,” Wolfe said. “Video interviewing is a part of what normal is for us right now, and we’ll see where we are when we come out of it.”

Video interviewing isn’t all that different than an in-person interview; the fundamentals are pretty much the same. With that said, there are details candidates must keep in mind when doing a video interview, just as they would attending one in person, Wolfe added.

“Nailing a video interview has never been as important as it is today. Video technology is a great way for hiring managers to interview and identify quality candidates to join their teams,” said Amelia Green-Vamos, Glassdoor career trends expert.

“But still, video interviews are different from in-person interviews and can pose a few challenges for both the interviewer and candidate. There are a few key areas candidates should keep in mind to nail the video interview,” Green-Vamos said.

How to nail a video interview

  • Test the connection

“During this time, we have likely learned that we take for granted our ‘set up’ in the office when settling into our makeshift offices at home,” said Jenna Spathis, practice manager of enterprise systems at the LaSalle Network, a staffing, recruiting and culture firm. “We may have a slower internet connection at home compared to that in the office.”
Because of this, candidates should test their equipment and make sure their connections are strong and systems are prepared for a video interview.

“Don’t get tripped up by technology,” Green-Vamos said. “Check your internet connection and test the video interview technology and link prior to the interview to be sure it’s working for you. This way, you can identify any hiccups or problems in advance and reach out to the recruiter with questions or concerns.”

  • Come prepared

Not only should the candidate be technologically prepared, but they should also prepare themselves as they would for an in-person interview.

“It’s important to come to any interview prepared and a virtual interview is no different. Do your research,” Green-Vamos said.

“Research interview questions from past candidates and read company reviews to learn more about the company. This will help you better assess if the opportunity is right for you and also inform the questions you have for the interviewers,” Green-Vamos noted. “Practice makes perfect. Practice responses to common interview questions and come ready with questions for the virtual interviewers. Remember, you’re interviewing them too.”

Wolfe said it’s even more important to show you’ve done your homework when the interview is over video; this shows the candidate is taking the process seriously.

“Coming to the interview with questions about the company, about the role, about this hiring manager, about what their leadership style is like,” Wolfe said.

  • Make an impression

One difficulty about video interviews is it removes the ability for subtleties, such as arriving early and bringing a hard copy of the resume. However, there are still ways to create that same affect. Creating that rapport is crucial, Green-Vamos said.

“Believe it or not, that first handshake and some of the small talk and rapport-building when the interviewer picks up the interviewee in the lobby can set the tone for the rest of the interview,” Green-Vamos said.

“Treat it as if it were an in-person interview. Arrive (and be set up) early. Be first to join the call rather than after one or most of the interviewers are already logged in,” Green-Vamos said. This gives the interviewee the opportunity to have those first few minutes of small talk and set a good impression from the start.

One tactic for making an impression is eye contact, Wolfe said.

“You want to make eye contact. It’s easier to do when you’re in person in a room, but making sure you’re looking at the camera versus looking at somebody’s picture or video on the screen, like really play that the camera is the person you’re talking to so they can pick up tasteful expressions and other facial or physical cues,” Wolfe said.

  • Present yourself professionally

Just because you are interviewing from your home doesn’t mean you can wear pajamas.

“Dress professionally from head to toe. You wouldn’t wear a suit jacket and joggers to an in-person interview,” Spathis said. “If you dress the part, you will perform the same way you would perform in an in-person interview.”

Along with dress, background is also important. “Presentation is key for a successful virtual interview and that extends beyond what you’re wearing, but also where you choose to do the interview,” Green-Vamos said. “Find a neutral background and a quiet, private location to avoid background noise or other distractions”

The prime candidate doesn’t just look the part, however. While video interviews might feel strange, candidates must try and retain their personality and conduct themselves professionally, Green-Vamos added.

“For the candidate, it can be difficult to present your authentic self on video,” Green-Vamos noted. “When going into a video interview, remember to prepare anecdotes that will help the interviewer understand your experience in and outside of work.

“When on camera, it’s also important to be mindful of the social cues that will help you connect with your interviewers,” Green-Vamos said. “For instance, be mindful of how you use your hands while talking and remember to smile and show enthusiasm for the role in which you’re applying.”

At the end of the day, the personal connection is key for landing a job. “It allows them to gauge how you may fit in with the group,” Spathis said. “It is arguably more important to feel a sense of rapport being built when you don’t have an opportunity to meet face-to-face.”

For more, check out How COVID-19 is impacting job seekers and hiring managers on TechRepublic.

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Image: iStockphoto/AndreyPopov