Video call interviews have always made me nervous. I think it’s because there is so much that could go wrong – I could miss the time, the computer might give up on me, I might say the wrong thing…
When you’re doing a video call, the chances are it is early in the hiring process. In my experience, the video call happens early and generally with a recruiter or a designer. They are asking you high level questions about your experience and competency, your interest in working at this company, and finding out if it will be a good fit for you.
As someone who has worked in tech for almost a decade, I’ve done quite a few video calls in my career. Today I’d like to share with you the insights I’ve learned the hard way, so that you don’t repeat my mistakes.
1. Mic Check… Check…
As the daughter of a sound engineer, this one is something that hits pretty close to home. When you’re preparing for your Skype or Hangouts interview, always check the microphone and camera. Get someone to make a test call with you before hand just to make sure that everything works.
The reason why I say this is that a few years ago I was interviewing for a high-profile tech company, when the recruiter had to chime in to say that she couldn’t hear me. I had no idea why, and spent about 5 minutes trying to figure it out.
Some headphones have a microphone, which can override the built-in microphone on your laptop or computer. Go into preferences and make sure that the person on the other side of your test call can hear and see you.
2. Book a Room
Know in advance what room you are going to take the call. If you’re going to be at home, keep the background minimal and neat. Set up a comfortable chair and have a way to read and take notes. Bring a glass of water incase you need to clear your throat.
If you’re going to be taking a call during work hours, organise a room so that you won’t be disturbed. Give yourself 10 minutes before the arranged time to make sure everything is set up properly.
Put the interview call in your calendar to make sure no one invites you to a meeting,
3. Bring Your Charger
If you’re using a laptop, bring your charger. Even if you’re on 100% battery, bring it anyway and plug it in. You don’t want to be anxious about the battery power during the interview. Video calls use up a lot of power. Instead of worrying about your computer running out of battery you need to be focused on answering the questions as best you can.
4. Bring Your Notes
The fantastic thing about Skype calls is that it’s possible to have your notes visible on the screen beside the video call. It’s like doing an open-book exam in school. Bullet points are best.
Remember when you were in school, and you had to learn a few stock phrases in French to get your letter started, that’s what this is like. Have a few phrases written out so you can add enthusiasm at every point.
“Hi, thanks so much for taking the time to set up this call…”
“I’m really excited to talk to you, I’ve been following this company for a while and this sounds like an incredibly interesting opportunity…”
Roughly script your introduction and your wrap up. Know what you’re going to say at the very start, and how to wrap up so that there’s no awkwardness.
What Should You Have In Your Notes?
- Bullet points covering your answers to the most common interview questions (tell me about yourself… why are you interested in working here etc)
- Information that is on your CV
- Your questions for the interviewer
With the basic points in front of you, you can embellish the points by adding your own narrative, but you won’t kick yourself later that you forgot to say something.
5. Dress for Success
Yes, this is a video call but you should still dress like you would for any other interview. Know what you’re going to wear a few days ahead of schedule, make sure it’s clean and comfortable.
Even if the call is from your home, you will feel more in the zone if you’re dressed for an interview. You will sit up straighter, and subconsciously you will take things a bit more seriously. You will sound and look more professional.
Treat this call as if you were at a real interview in the company’s office.
6. Make Sure Everything Is Up To Date
You don’t want to open the video call app of choice, only to be told that there needs to be an update. Carry out the updates ahead of time. Open the app the day before, make sure you are logged in, and keep it open. This way, you won’t be in for any surprises when you open the app the morning of the interview.
7. Speak Up If Things Aren’t Right
Immediately after your greeting of “Hello, it’s nice to speak with you” on the interview, you might want to follow up with “Can you hear my clearly?”. I’ve been in calls in the past where the window was open, and there was a lot of construction noise happening outside of the office. I had headphones on, so I couldn’t really hear the noise outside, but it was seriously interrupting the audio from my side.
If something happens and you can’t hear them, or can’t see them, don’t be afraid to say “sorry, I really hate to interrupt but I am having trouble hearing you” or something along those lines.
8. Up the Energy
Since you’re on a video call, you will need to add an extra 10% of energy to the interview. Sit up and pay attention to the interviewer. Ask questions, smile, be polite and show enthusiasm. We sit at screens all day, and it can be easy to relax as if we were talking to colleagues or in another meeting.
Show your passion for the role and the company.
Those are my tips on how you can win in your next Skype interview.
If you have any other tips you have learned from doing interviews over video call, I would really love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments below, or on twitter.