Online job interviews
Six rules for candidates
Rule No. 1: Take video interviews seriously, too
Last year, I noticed that candidates in particular on the one hand and representatives of employers on the other were attaching different levels of importance to online job interviews.
Candidates often felt they did not have to prepare as extensively for a video interview, since it wasn’t a “real” interview, but just an “initial” or “first” one. If a candidate logs in from their cell phone on the go, or worse, from a car while driving, the other party to the interview may conclude that the candidate does not see the interview as important. On the employer side, this translates to lack of appreciation. In these cases, the selection process may be over before it has even truly begun.
Preparing for a video interview is just as important as if the job interview is taking place face to face. It’s just that suddenly, a whole new set of aspects come to the fore. When we meet virtually for an interview, a limp handshake is no big deal. Likewise for a slow gait or overpowering perfume. Other aspects take center stage, though.
Rule No. 2: As a manager, you control the technology
If you are a candidate, you should test out all the technical conditions before the interview date to make sure the interview will go smoothly and the link you have received works. If you normally use a Wi-Fi connection, use a cable to connect your device to the router if at all possible. For a video interview, just like a face-to-face one, you can demonstrate your motivation with a brief, well-prepared presentation. You should be able to control your screen appropriately by displaying your presentation at the right times. If you have technical difficulties either at the start or during the interview, you will disqualify yourself for a leadership position.
Rule No. 3: Craft the proper image
Make sure the lighting is right, and that you appear in front of an appropriate background, ideally a light-colored one. Do not give the camera a view of your kids’ room or your bedroom. A blurred background is always a solid choice.
Be sure to use a device with a high-quality camera. Ideally, you should also use a high-quality headset. Remember that the camera should capture you at eye level. The cropped image the other person sees is not always identical to the one you have in front of you on your own screen. Definitely watch out for unflattering angles in which the camera captures you from below, showing a close-up of your nostrils. Your face should be centered in the image.
Maintain eye contact by looking directly at the camera. This is especially important if you use a second screen where you have jotted down questions or have your CV showing as a kind of cheat sheet. It would be jarring if the other person were to see you in profile on an ongoing basis.
Of course, you will have made sure your dog isn’t growling in the background, the next-door neighbors aren’t renovating with a power drill, and there is no one else sitting in the room and making comments.
Rule No. 4: Respect the dress code
In a video interview, as elsewhere, clothes make the man (or woman).
The old principle that it is better to be overdressed than underdressed applies in the digital sphere as well.
Try to choose your outfit with an eye to your prospective employer. An HR manager in their mid-30s from the European headquarters of an American company in Frankfurt may think nothing of it if an applicant appears onscreen wearing a hoodie. The senior boss of a mid-sized company from the Siegerland region of Germany may reject a candidate merely for not wearing a tie during the first interview.
Rule No. 5: Never interview from your office with your current employer
You should never conduct a video interview from your office with your current employer. Your potential new boss may think you will do the same to them.
Rule No. 6: Present yourself as a manager
You are interviewing with people who are looking for a manager. A manager is by definition a proactive figure, and you should display these qualities during the interview. Ask the right questions to demonstrate your interest in your prospective new employer. You will have looked up all the freely available information on the company on your own initiative beforehand, of course. Please don’t say you’d rather take the interview as a chance to listen and then pursue further information later on. You should prepare for a job interview held online just as meticulously as you would for one held in a more traditional setting. If you also present yourself authentically and transparently, you will give the other person a chance to get to know the real you.
Here at DEININGER, we advise our clients on the best ways to use videoconferencing tools in the recruitment process and point out the pros and cons. Feel free to contact us for advice – we’re here to help!