Best practises for doing video calls in job interviews
The world is getting more connected, and we are all moving closer together, even though there are thousands of miles or kilometers between us.
Examples for this Connectivity are engineers helping a colleague in a different city via remote support, people like me working in home office, or a job interview via a video call to save time and money to get to the headquarter - for both parties.
In this post, I want to talk a bit about video calls in general and especially in job interviews. For the latter part, I talked to one of my HR colleagues @SteffenKolich, Human Resources & Talent Acquisition Business Partner who gave me some insights from an HR point of view (so - if you want to work for TeamViewer, keep on reading as I have some great tips for you ✌).
I bet all this is not necessarily new for you. Still, I can't help noticing that this - please allow me to call it Connectivity - moves forward quickly and enters more and more areas of our lives and businesses and involves more and more people.
I was keen to ask our community whether our members ever participated in a job interview via a video call.
The possible answers were:
- I have my first one soon
- Yes - once
- Yes - multiple times
To summarize this, I´d say
- 2 and 3 belong into the category Yes,
- 4 is a clear No, and
- 1 is preparing for a video call and in between Yes and No.
I hope you are meanwhile curious to get the results from the 203 members participating. Here we go:
And guess what: A lot of people already had a video call! For being more precisely:
|I have my first one soon||14 votes|
|Yes - once||
|Yes - multiple times||
This leads to a result of:
Yes: 107 (= 53%)
No: 82 (=40%)
And upcoming: 14 (= 7%)
What does this tell me? Having a video call is no longer something fancy or entirely new, as around 60% of our cohort did it already or is heading towards their first one soon.
I think that's a remarkable result and maybe leads to a trend in more and more industries.
About Video Calls
As you can imagine, since I am not working in our headquarter, but at home, I am doing quite a few video calls with my colleagues.
Collaborating via chat is great, calls are even better, but video calls are simply the best as those are virtual face-to-face conversations. Seeing the other person and being seen at the same time is - even though I have no data to prove it - the oldest way of communication. And the most natural one - at least for me.
But to be fair, video calls are also tricky as they are virtual and not real life and so I thought about what's essential in a video call. In general and in a job interview.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: Were do you look at in a video call? Are there some no-gos?
That's maybe even the hardest one to begin with as you have four options:
- Directly into the camera
- Into the eyes or face of your video call partner
- On the video of yourself
- Somewhere else like your 2nd screen
However, the answer is kind of easy, and generally speaking, it is best to do a mixture. Likewise, it depends a little bit on what the call is about and what you have to do during the call but think about a real face-to-face interview or meeting: What are you doing? Starring your connecting partner into the eyes? Probably not.
Steffen said that he finds it important to not look at the same spot during the whole call. Behave naturally like in real life to not make it awkward.
Question 2: How do you manage the "voice transfer"?
Well - you might not have thought about this earlier, but it is indeed an important question:
Do you use your giant noise-canceling headset, your small in-ear set, or the built-in microphone and speaker of your laptop?
Honestly - the noise-canceling headsets are great, but ask yourself: does it look professional to wear them? Also: Can you guarantee not to speak way too loud as you can't hear yourself very well... I leave the answer up to you, but in my experience (people tend to speak louder than usual with those headsets on).
Steffen finds in-ear headsets the most appealing ones since it looks more natural, and those headsets have, in general, an excellent sound for voice transmission.
Personally, I use a standard headset you can get in any electronic store. At least those are not falling during a call (for all of you who are not having the perfect ears for in-ear headsets ?). But I am also not having any job interviews so far.
Question 3: Do you wave at your counterpart at the beginning or end of a video call?
Waving into a laptop camera feels and looks stupid (just check the image above). And really - You can believe me, it did it hundreds of times in the last two years ?
But honestly - what other options do you have as you can't make a real-life handshake, or in case of your favorite colleagues, you can't hug them?
My advice for a regular video call: It is ok until we do not find a more suitable way of saying hi with our bodies.
But when it comes to a job interview, I would say: No - skip that part and rather say hi and smile in a friendly manner.
Steffen also thinks that waving is better to be avoided in a job interview. If you do it anyways, it is nothing bad, but nodding and a friendly smile will do the trick as well and looks a bit more professional.
Question 4: What about the background?
As your video partner sees not only you in a video call but also your background, it makes sense to spend some thoughts on this one: What do you want to "present" in a video call?
Family pictures, a bookshelf, a plain white wall, a window with a view, your kitchen, or bedroom?
I recommend thinking about this thoroughly before having your interview because it might send signals to your potential employer. And depending on the job you are striving for, some things might be more appropriate than others.
While talking with Steffen, we had a look at what my video was presenting him, and there were some water bottles on my desk, a few private pictures in the background as well as my collection of Harry Potter books in my bookshelf visible.
I guess this is ok for regular video calls, but Steffen recommends to get rid of the water bottles, any food, and also private stuff like pictures (one of mine showed me with a delicate dry-aged steak - nothing everyone prefers). Last but not least, be easy on the interviewer as a "too much" of anything might irritate him or her.
Question 5: Should you wear pants?
Yes - in any case!
While it is a common joke to making fun of not wearing pants in an online meeting or video call: You never know whether you need to stand up quickly for any reason. Be safe - wear pants! Always!
As a rule of thumb: Dress as you would dress in a regular meeting in the headquarter of your next possible employer. No excuses! That´s what our HR expert recommends ?
Question 6: And now - what to wear?
Referring back to the reply above: Wear the clothes you would choose when visiting the headquarter for a real face-to-face interview. And an important note from Steffen: Wear what reflects you and the position you´re applying for.
A developer might wear something different than a lawyer. This is natural and absolute ok. Also wearing something you feel comfortable in makes you behave much more naturally and relaxed. And isn´t this key in a job interview?
Question 7: Anything else I should keep in mind
There are a couple more things that might help you to get through a video call smoothly and get invited to the next round of interviews.
- Make sure you won´t get disturbed during the call.
- This includes family members, your dog or cat or your mobile.
- Well - thinking about this: If you are applying to a zoo it might be a pretty good idea to have your pets around you, but otherwise: Leave them outside the room.
- Make a test call with a friend before the interview. That includes:
- Downloading the correct software you have been asked to use for the call.
- Set up your equipment and check your background (see question 4 above).
- Check the background noises: Are there any? If there are construction works in front of your house: Make sure to get out of the house for the call.
- Make sure video and voice transmission is working to avoid playing the online-meeting-bullsh*t-bingo with the interviewer (credits to my colleagues from Blizz) ?
- Do not play online-meeting-**bleep**-bingo during the interview
- But definitely do that for all upcoming meetings ahead of you! It is simply so much fun ?
- Check whether your internet connection is working fine and has enough bandwidth for a hasslefree video-call experience.
- If it does not: Make sure to find a friend who has a better connection at his/her house and plan to do the meeting from there.
- While making all these preparations: Do not forget to prepare yourself for the interview like you would do in a regular interview.
- One awkward one: Do not do the interview from your bathroom. Just don´t!
And as the last point: Always keep in mind: Your camera is transmitting a video of you and all that you are doing. That means: Your counterpart can see it all. So - avoid rolling your eyes or doing other things you would never do when talking to other people directly.
Good luck and have fun
I know, video calls are not new but they will conquer even more parts of our lives in the future. And with this knowledge:
We wish you the best of luck for your next job interview and in general a lot of fun when having video calls. We strongly believe that video calls are a great way to stay in contact even when there is a physical distance between you and your colleagues!
And if you are planning to apply at TeamViewer, check out our job posts to find your next career step.
What are your recommendations for a successful job interview via video call? Or what was your funniest moment in a video call? Share it with our community in the comments below! ?
Former Community Manager