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Working from home? Five tips to get video interviews right

We’ve all had an experience with a video interview which went less than ideally. Poor connectivity, a last minute download of required software, timezone mix ups, poor sound – trust us, the list goes on and on! With more people than ever before having to work from home, here are five tips and tricks to interview candidates from home through video.

1. Prepare the candidate

When it goes well, a video interview should be the closest thing to an in-person interview. However, loads of things can go wrong which are pretty easily controlled with a little bit of preparation on both sides. Set aside some time to prep your candidate, who might not be as familiar with the process as you are. 

  1. Let them know it is a video interview and that they are expected to use their camera. Mutual webcams are important as they mean you both can see non-verbal cues, not talk over each other and in general have a much nicer experience.
  2. Tell them what software you’ll be using so they can download it in advance. Zoom is a great tool for this as it is available on a freemium basis.
  3. Provide them with guidance and expectations about good camera set up. Good lighting, plain backdrops and angles are all very important.
  4. Double check time and date, especially if you’re speaking to someone in a different timezone. 

2. Test in advance

Similarly to the candidate, you should have the software downloaded in advance and be familiar with how to use it. Try a test call with a colleague to make sure that your camera and microphone are working correctly, and that you’re comfortable sharing links, etc. And practice what you preach – make sure your camera eye line, lighting and backdrop is appropriate as well!

Working from home

3. The sound of silence

A working microphone is important, but be mindful of the sound environment you’re in while taking the call. What other noises might it be picking up? Calling in from a coffee shop might look chic and urban, but it’ll be adding a lot of unnecessary noise to the call. Similarly with leaky headphones and faulty equipment – extra noise disturbance creates a bad impression and wastes time. If you are calling from home, know who else is there and let them know you’re having a call and need some quiet. Everyone remembers this famous news report, but it’s all too easy for a roommate, partner, child or pet to enter the room while you’re mid-call. 

4. (Back)drop it like it’s hot

We’re not here to teach granny how to suck eggs – every recruiter knows bias is something you want to avoid at all costs. Questions of religion, location, age, family or economic status have no place in an interview and yet, video interviewing someone in their home suddenly brings all of that very much into the mix. Both you and the candidate should be mindful of your backdrop – aim for as neutral and simple as possible. 

Be mindful of your backdrop

5. First impressions still count

A video interview is always going to be preferable to a call. It should be as close to an in-person as possible, so how you act, speak and look all will have an impact. Remember that while you may be at home, you are still representing yourself and your company with an external client so dress appropriately. And dare we say – dress appropriately all the way. Too often a professional top half and pyjama-ed bottom half make appearances on video calls. 

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