Advocating for Defence families

Nailing the remote interview

As we adjust to a new normal in the world of work, some employers are adopting video interviews to help maintain social distancing, especially if they are now working from home. Most are live, like a video call, but some especially for a first interview allow you to record your answers on your own time. (We predict that submitting recorded video answers to set questions will become more common in the future.)

Be the groomed version of your everyday self

However, to remove the stress of pulling together a top-to-toe interview look, you only need to think about what will be visible on-screen. Whether you feel most interview ready in a suit jacket, ultra confident with your favourite bold earring, or favour a simple neat black T-shirt, be the most camera friendly version of your everyday self and take the opportunity to check how you will present on video prior while testing your set up equipment.

Posture is still important. Sit up straight, pull your shoulders back and hold your head up high. You will radiate confidence and professionalism.

Plan, prepare and practice

Expect and encourage flexibility regarding the interview time if required. Everyone is still adjusting to a new way of working so this may mean interviews outside of traditional working hours if that’s what works best for all parties. For your interviewer 3pm may mean that they have children present and 6pm may mean the other parent is putting the kids to bed, or putting on Frozen 2.

Practice answering questions with a friend using a video call program if you have time, as well as giving you a chance to prepare your answers to common questions. It will also give you practice talking into a camera.

It can be difficult to look at the interviewer or tempting to watch yourself, but try your best to talk to the camera. Consider dragging or moving the video window close to your camera, this way you give the appearance of looking the interviewer directly in their eyes.

Test your equipment and set up your shot

There are numerous video conference programs e.g. Zoom, VSee, Skype for business, Google Meets, Blue Jeans and many more. You may need to download an app prior or others will connect you directly using the link provided. 

Test the connection/ link prior using whatever equipment you plan to use for your interview, and make sure you also have a backup, including a telephone number if you lose internet connection. The employer should use a unique link however if they haven’t and you join a current call, apologise and state you were testing the link prior to a meeting.

If you can, make sure you know how to mute and unmute yourself, turn your video on and off and how any other features of the program work. Don’t be tempted to experiment with the settings while you are in your interview, you don’t want to be remembered as the candidate that was a potato for the entire interview.

Since you will be at home for your interview, you want to make sure your surroundings aren’t distracting. Don’t worry too much about which room you are in, only focus on what the camera will see. If there is a light or window behind you, it will be hard for the interviewer to see your face. Consider sitting facing a light or window so the interviewer can see you clearly.

During the interview

Make sure the other adults in the house are aware you will be in an interview and approximately how long you will be unavailable for so that you won’t be interrupted.

Close any other windows or programs including all tabs where you may receive messages. Unless you’re potentially exchanging documents/files with your interviewer during the call, in which case keep only the appropriate messaging apps open but muted. The same goes for your smartphone; put it on silent and stow it out of sight behind your computer screen for the duration of your interview to avoid distractions

It is likely that your virtual job interview will be shorter than a face-to-face job interview. This is because conversation doesn’t normally flow as easily via video conferencing, this can also mean that some of your skills and experience that you want to convey are not raised in natural conversation. This is where you can make video interviewing work for you and attach a few, easy to read sticky notes to the edge of your screen of key points or phrases.

Also it helps to have an updated and clearly labelled copy of your CV saved to your desktop for easy access, or printed out beside you to refer to.

A few final thoughts

Everyone is coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and everyone is doing this differently, allow yourself the space to adjust. Remember that even if the interview doesn’t go exactly as you planned you can still follow up afterwards with an email to thank the interviewer for their time and clarify any points you feel the need to.

Download a mindfulness app – we like Smiling Mind or Headspace and allow yourself 15 minutes to slow down — both the night and the hour before your interview if possible. Also make sure you have some tea or water nearby, but out of spill range of any equipment.

Finally, smile! Smiling is contagious; it shows warmth and social awareness interviewers will remember how that made them feel. And, most importantly, you are strong, resilient and adaptable, you can do anything you set your mind to, we believe in you!

Good luck!

Nejula Blake
DFA Project Officer – Employment

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice.

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