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By Nina Lockwood, Founder & Managing Director of Intuitive Interim & Executive Search. If you’re looking for a job or career change, Nina Lockwood has put together some helpful tips for navigating the job search in the age of virtual interviews. Given the recent changes to working practices as a result of COVID-19 and the more general trend toward remote working, it is now likely that most – if not all – of your interviews will be conducted by video call. The last interview you had probably started with a strong handshake. It’s clear those days are over, for now… To adapt, companies will be making eye contact through webcams and “can you hear me?” will become the new ice breaker! Here are some tips for job seekers, in the new, more virtual world. If you are part of an interviewing panel you may also find this guide useful. We wish you the very best of luck!

Being Prepared:

When preparing for an interview it is important to consider the practicalities of video calling and your environment. Giving the wrong first impression is now easier than ever.

Surrounding environment

It is best to start with your lighting as that may dictate where you are sitting. An ideal set up would be with your computer in front of a window. Make sure that the natural light is hitting your face straight-on (not coming from behind you). If natural lighting isn’t possible, try to use three soft light sources: two behind your web cam (one on the left, one on the right) and one right behind you.

Consider your background, the panel will see this on the call. What does your background say about you? Our advice is to try to keep it neat, simple and tidy. Things should be clean and organised behind you, and not a distraction to the interviewer.

Similarly, your desk should be clean and tidy allowing you to focus fully on the call. Worth noting that a bare empty room can create a “tinny” sound to the audio, so if possible, a furnished room is better. Have a glass of water with you along with a couple of pens and notepad.

Also have a stack of books or a stool to hand in case you need to raise your camera to your eye level.

What to wear?!

Dress as you would for a regular face to face interview, our style advice is smart. Not necessarily suited and booted! What you decide to wear may show up differently on video, so consider avoiding bright patterned clothing.

Even though the interviewers will only see the top half of you, worth dressing well from head to toe in case you need to stand up. Also makes you feel better when you are smartly dressed - ready to put your best foot forward!

Avoid distractions

Minimise distractions, where you can: little people, partners, pets or the postie – try to have a room or space free to yourself and turn phones, smart speakers and doorbells off. Leave a note about a safe place if you’re expecting (another) delivery.

Ensure that phone or computer notifications are on silent and that all other apps, browsers and downloads are switched off on your computer. Make sure you have plenty of battery left too!

Minimal distractions mean that you can purely focus on the interview itself, presenting yourself in the best possible way.

Testing, testing…

Always test your set equipment before the interview. Most video call providers have an option for previewing your video before the call starts, but you can also use the camera function on your computer.

However, no matter how many times you test your video interview software, problems can still occur. If video or audio functions aren’t working, internet access becomes unstable or surroundings are no longer conducive to an interview, have a failsafe in place. Plan ahead and ensure you have a phone number for the candidate if you are the interviewer. For the job seeker, it may also be useful to have a couple of alternative video calling apps on your phone in case your computer crashes. Whether you default to a phone call or switch to an alternative meeting provider, ensure you have an alternative communication method available.

It’s started!

Once on the call, you might find it easier hiding your video preview from yourself so as not to get distracted by your appearance. Also, try to avoid changing anything mid-call – be this lighting, camera angle, hairstyle – as this will be distracting.

Master eye contact

We are innately conditioned to show attention to people by looking them in the eye when they speak, and to nod and smile. This is never more important than when on a video call. All the best with the interview! This job search guide has been produced by Intuitive, we hope you find it useful.

Nina Lockwood

  • Nina Lockwood is the Founder & Managing Director of Intuitive Interim & Executive Search. 
  • Intuitive provide exceptional Board level and senior management talent to organisations across the UK Rail Sector, covering both Executive Search and interim management consultancy. 

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