Archive for January, 2016

How To Nail A Video Interview

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Like it or not, digital interviews are an increasing reality. A recent survey by workforce consulting firm Right Management reports that 18 percent of applicants participated in a video interview within the past year, more than double the number in the year prior. And six in 10 recruiters currently incorporate video into their interview process. While video interviews allow more candidates to get consideration and are thus advantageous to recruiters, the impersonal and unfamiliar medium can put job applicants at a disadvantage.

Consider these true stories of recent video interviews gone awry:

You’re Calling From Where? “A friend, an HR Director of a local firm, had an initial interview with a candidate via Facetime. The candidate apparently thought it appropriate to interview from her bathroom. The interview was very short.”

Screenshare Oops. “I interview a lot of remote workers for my business. In my previous positions, I have also interviewed potential candidates from out of state. I am a technical manager and typically interview software engineers for software development openings. Perhaps the most egregious Skype mistake I’ve seen is when I am doing a coding interview and ask the candidate to screen share with me so I can watch and they can talk me through it. I’ve seen candidates have chat windows open where they are asking friends for help during the interview, or searching Google for help. That’s not even the worst of it, though — there are actually candidates who are actively complaining about the interview via chat to their friends, while they are on Skype with me and conducting the interview!”

Like a Scout: Be Prepared. “I was Skyping a prospective employee who I was very interested in hiring. In the middle of the interview, her battery died and we reconnected on Skype. Unfortunately, it happened again… I know technical glitches are bound to happen, but the fact that her computer didn’t have adequate battery power for the interview made me feel she was unprepared. Since preparation is a must for the marketing director position she was interviewing for, I was unable to justify hiring her.”

A Little Too Loose? “Before starting my own business there was a period of time I was actively looking for any kind of work I could get. I stumbled upon a great opportunity from a company expanding to the U.S. and sent my resume. They liked me. I made it to the video interview. I have no problem with face-to-face interviews, but this video interview made me a little edgy. I decided to have a glass of wine (or two) so I could appear relaxed. Ironically, my interview was a little too relaxed! Then on top of that the lighting in the room I was interviewing in was rather yellow and dim. Needless to say, I did not get the job, but it was definitely a professional experience to remember.”

So in light of the many potential issues that can arise and mistakes that can be made, how does one successfully navigate a video interview? Here are a few basic tips:

1. Make sure your face looks beautiful. Wash your face – a shiny face is not good with a light in front of you. Comb your hair. Clean your nails. For women, use a little makeup—not a lot.

2. Take your time in composing answers. Match your rhythm to accommodate the possibilities of a transmission delay. Use a visual nod to confirm you’ve heard the question, then wait three seconds before you respond. Pace yourself based on the speed of the technology – don’t use your regular rhythm when there’s an Internet connection involved. This is a big thing. People are moving too quickly, and the bandwidth can’t handle it.

3. Avoid using the camera and microphone on your computer.

4. Backgrounds are important. Most people think the great background of their office or their library is a wonderful thing. It is not. These things will only serve as distraction. Choose a blank background – paper, a board, or even a solid color shower curtain. Make certain that when the video starts, the focal point will be you.

5. Dress well – not too informally – and make sure your clothing doesn’t blend in or conflict with the background you choose. Stay away from reds and ‘hot’ colors as they don’t translate well on the other side of the screen.

6. Test every aspect of the equipment and the set up in advance. Conduct a rehearsal interview from the equipment you intend to use and evaluate everything you see from the other side of the screen. Imagine your video being set up on a screen next to others as hiring officers narrow their decision down to the final choice. How well will you fare based on what they can see?

7. Lighting is critical. Two lights in front of you and one behind you is good. The one way to be certain of the lighting’s affect is to take the time to see the prospective result from the other side of the screen in advance.

8. Make sure the interviewer has all materials needed in front of them 10-15 minutes in advance, and double check all connections and that the equipment, the sound, and all elements are working properly in advance. Have ample battery power, or better yet, use a standard outlet. Turn off your phones. Alert family members that the interview is happening, to keep ‘photobomb’ surprises such as children, pets, and unexpected visitors from disrupting the focus of the discussion.

9. Look at the camera, not the screen, as the interview happens. This gives you another advantage as well—you can put your key points and story line on the wall behind the camera so you can see them readily without interfering with the eye contact you should strive to maintain.

10. Camera angles are important. You shouldn’t be looking up or down at the person you’ll be addressing.

11. Clean the camera lens. The slightest smudge can create a terrible distraction to the quality of the image on the other side of the screen.

12. Turn the sound off and put a post-it note over the lens until the interview begins to avoid accidentally transmitting your preparation.

The Right Way to Answer: “What Should I Know That’s Not on Your Resume?”

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

The interview is going really well. You’ve got a good rapport with the hiring manager, you’re getting your key points across, you’re speaking clearly and confidently—and then comes this question:

“What should I know about you that’s not on your resume?”

And you’re stumped, because huh? I know the feeling, so I thought I would break down this question for you so that answering doesn’t seem quite so tricky.

Why They’re Asking

On the surface, this question seems weird. After all, you’ve worked hard to condense all your relevant information onto a single page so that everything the interviewer should know is on there!

But hiring managers ask this question to get a sense for your personality and character, rather than just your work experiences and accomplishments.

They’re also giving you a chance to tell them something that’s important but doesn’t fit within the traditional resume format—like what drives you or what you’re passionate about outside your 9-to-5.

What to Say

There are three basic “themes” for your response that you can choose from.

First, you can discuss one of your positive traits. Think: your creativity, your enthusiasm, your tenacity, your dedication, the one word that makes you you.

Alternatively, you can share a story or detail that reveals something awesome about you and your accomplishments. For example, maybe you’ve climbed a few major mountains, which shows how persistent you are when you put your mind to it.

Lastly, you can talk about your motivation or overall goal. Maybe you want to work in hospitality because you want to recreate the same sense of joy and wonder you’ve experienced on vacations for as many guests as possible.

What Not to Say

If it’s on your resume, don’t say it! Regurgitating what’s on that paper will make you seem unimaginative, or worse, like you don’t understand the question.

The same rule goes for your cover letter. If you mentioned it, you can’t use it again.

And of course, as during the rest of the interview, avoid overly personal information or anything that’ll raise a red flag.

For example, you might be super eager to get this job because you’ve been unemployed for six months—but telling the interviewer that? Not a good idea. Instead, bring up the work ethic you cultivated while simultaneously getting your degree and working a full-time job.

Structuring Your Response

There’s a very simple format for your response.

Begin by explaining your trait or story. Then, summarize why it’s important for the interviewer to know this. Make sure you connect your answer to the job, the company, or both.

Here’s the template:

I’d like you to know [strength/anecdote].
This is important because [explanation of what it shows about you].
I believe this will help me with [aspect of the job] because [something that connects your answer back to the position].

And here’s a sample answer:

Well, one thing you won’t find on my resume: the time I had to administer emergency CPR training. Last year, I was at the lake when I saw a young girl who looked like she was drowning. I was a lifeguard in high school, so I swam out, brought her to shore, and gave her CPR.

Although this was—hopefully—a one-time event, I’ve always been able to stay calm during stressful situations, figure out a solution, and then act. This characteristic would make me a valuable member of your company. After all, obstacles are inevitable, especially in a startup environment.

As your account manager, I’d use this trait to quickly and effectively resolve issues both within the team and externally. And if anyone needs CPR at the office beach party, well, I’m your woman.

Original from the Muse