Just as technology has facilitated the global expansion of law firms and corporations, it has similarly allowed the employment interview to be conducted remotely. Job seekers can now expect to participate in video conference interviews alongside traditional in-person meetings—and often, the video interview is your first meeting. We are seeing a majority of our clients using this tool, even with more senior and critical interviewers.
As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so it is critical to approach a video conference with the same degree of care with which you approach your in-person meeting, while also preparing for the unique nuances presented by the video interview. Here are a few pointers that can help you bring your “A” game--
- Prepare for a substantive discussion. Approach the video conference interview with the same level of preparation you would bring as if you were meeting the interviewer in person. Research the role and the company as you would for any interview. Come prepared with your “two-minute elevator pitch,” being prepared to illustrate your experience with actual examples and results; also have a list of thoughtful questions at the ready. Take your time with your answers and pause from time to time to ask your host if you satisfactorily answered the question.
- Dress the part. Dress professionally—and not just from the waist up! What you wear will influence how you act, consciously and subconsciously.
- Set the scene. Conduct the video conference in a room without unnecessary—or worse, embarrassing—distractions. Be aware of what is in the background. Your or your child’s bedroom is not an appropriate venue (yes, we have seen this with candidates). You want to create the best environment possible so that you can deliver a thoughtful, anxiety-free interview.
- Find a quiet place. Try to schedule the video conference during a quieter time of day. Do everything you can to avoid interruptions and background noise. Turn off phones, radios, televisions, etc. Close the door to whatever room you are in.
- Be aware of your body language. Smile. Set up your computer or laptop on your desk so that you are at eye level with the interviewer as if you were sitting across the table from them. Leaning over or staring down into your iPhone isn’t pleasant and can be a real turn off for the interviewer.
- Maintain eye contact. During the interview, make sure that you are looking into the camera and not at your screen when you are speaking. Think about how your favorite late-night host or new anchor connects with the audience and then compare it with how awkward it seemed on your last video conference when your counterpart appeared to be talking into his keyboard rather than TO YOU. Look at the camera.
- Test your connection. Test your connection and the video conference software program well in advance of your interview to ensure it works properly and you are comfortable connecting at the designated time without delay or mishap. If it’s feasible, ask someone in either the recruiter or potential employer’s office to help you do a test run to make sure all systems are “go” for interview time. By the way, for a video interview, it is perfectly acceptable to use your ear buds.
- Manage your schedule. Do not schedule other appointments either immediately before or after your interview. We’ve all experienced the call or meeting that runs over making us late to our next appointment. You don’t want to arrive late or feel rushed to end the meeting in order to make your next appointment. If you have a hard stop that can’t be avoided, let the interviewer know in advance of the interview. Almost everyone will understand, and they likely have a schedule to keep as well. A longer interview is usually a better interview.
Video conference interviews can feel a bit awkward, especially if you don’t do them on a regular basis or have not interviewed in a while. The steps you take to create a comfortable interview setting can make all the difference in what is undoubtedly a highly competitive interview process. Following these tips can help you come across your best and maximize your chances of making the right impression on a potential employer. Happy interviewing!
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Stacey Alton is a Managing Director with our In-House Practice Group in New York City. She is a seasoned executive legal recruiter who specializes in placing highly talented general counsel, senior attorneys and compliance officers with corporate clients across a variety of industries including: manufacturing, consumer products, healthcare, pharmaceutical, media and advertising, technology, real estate and financial services.