As the workplace moves to offer more remote positions full time, those pursuing IT positions will need a strong command of virtual interviews.
There are multiple factors to take into consideration when preparing for a video interview, which range from connectivity and sound issues to aesthetic choices and mental preparation.
Anthony Reynolds, CEO at HireVue, says the best thing candidates can do to arrive technically prepared for an interview is sit down and test their setup.
This means making sure the microphone is working, ensuring you are clearly visible on screen, and always taking some practice questions.
“We see amazing interviews come in from mobile devices, the front seat of cars, and a host of other places, but what makes them technically great is clear audio and a clear view of the person speaking,” he says.
That point was seconded by Jason Deneu, a New York City based recruiter for Robert Half, who says a recent company survey found the biggest pet peeves with video interviews were technical issues.
“The first thing we always tell people is to test the technology. You never want to be the person that is having wi-fi issues or can’t log on to the interview,” he says. “Ask the organization which service they use ahead of time so you can be prepared and make sure you have all the items downloaded.”
No Such Thing as Second First Impressions
He added it is always best to find a quiet place free of distractions, noting the old saying of “you never get a chance to make a second first impression” still holds true in the virtual interview world.
While your video background shouldn’t have any bearing on whether you’re selected for a job, that doesn’t stop people from worrying about their backdrop.
“Try to avoid a distracting background,” Deneu says. “You want the conversation to be about you and less about what’s behind you.”
Reynolds added some of the easiest (and cheapest) tips to optimize your environment include efforts to minimize opportunities for interruption behind you.
“For some people this might mean locking an office door, for others it might look like hiding in a bathroom or closet,” he says. “You’re less likely to get frazzled from an interruption, which will make the interview better overall.”
Turning back to a good technical setup, Reynolds noted good lighting is important, so your face is clearly visible.
“Set your device in front of a window with blinds or shades slightly drawn,” he advised. “Natural light is a great resource that provides front lighting for your camera.”
Prepare List of Problem-Solving Scenarios
Reynolds added one of the best ways to stay focused during the interview is to have a list of prepared examples and scenarios that speak to your experience.
By utilizing the STAR format (situation, task, action, result), candidates can come prepared to the interview with stories of specific examples, along with results that will fit well into the time allotments for questions.
Deneu says it’s a good idea to write down questions in advance. That way, if the conversation hits a quiet period, you are ready to keep the conversation flowing.
“Sometimes the best way to be engaged is to be an active participant,” he adds. “Take notes but continue to make eye contact. Always look into the camera and remain engaged in the conversation.”
He adds that the stakes are higher for IT pros because, well, they’re the IT pros, and any technical issues can leave a negative impression.
“Tech professionals also need to keep in mind that their position could be permanently remote,” Deneu says. “Any issues that arise during the interview will need to be addressed, should the conversations advance to an offer stage.”
Reynolds agrees that if you’re an IT pro sitting down for a virtual interview, the pressure to get all your tech setup dialed in probably feels greater than it does for non-tech roles. However, the basic advice remains the same.
“Check for clear audio and video and make sure you take advantage of practice questions,” he says.
He also points out it’s likely your next IT role might also include a technical assessment paired with a video interview.
Technical assessments have increased in popularity because they’re easily managed by non-technical talent team members and show employers how you operate in an environment more similar to real-life work.
“An assessment plus a video gives you an opportunity to show your hard and soft skills to land the job you want,” he says. “Being able to demonstrate your skills and potential allows candidates to present their capabilities beyond just the experience listed on their resume,”
Remote Work Acceptance
Both Reyonds and Deneu pointed out that despite the lifting of COVID restrictions and the gradual return to office environments, mastering the art of the video interview is important considering changing attitudes toward remote work.
“The talent market, particularly in tech, is very tight,” Deneu says. “Companies are looking beyond their geographic location to find talent and therefor many of the interviews are remote.”
While the pandemic provided an opportunity for everyone to learn these video skills, it is important to realize this is likely to become more of the norm moving forward.
“Dragging your feet on leveling-up on this skillset doesn’t just slow you down, it stands in the way of your next great offer,” Reynolds says.