As COVID-19 sweeps the globe, homebound workers everywhere are turning to video-conferencing and collaboration software in order to get things done. For some (especially those used to remote work), this isn’t much of a change from normal; but for those who are used to working in-person, some adjustment is necessary.
Technologists applying for new jobs may also find that the interview process has undergone some radical shifts. Whereas in-person interviews were once a staple of the job hunt, many companies will likely shift to video interviewing, at least in the short term.
Fortunately, when it comes to video interviewing (and conferencing) best practices, there’s a lot of overlap between full-time employees and job candidates:
Yes, COVID-19 has left many people stressed, and the sudden shift from in-office to at-home has resulted in a lot of discombobulation. Grooming standards are sometimes lowered while everyone’s figuring out what’s going on; after all, there are bigger things on the collective mind.
That being said, job applicants and employees still need to dress the part. Appearing on-camera in too-casual wear (such as the torn t-shirt you’ve been wearing for the past few days) could send the wrong message to an interviewer, hiring recruiter, or your teammates. Cleaning up not only conveys your seriousness and engagement (whether you have a job or you’re interviewing one); it also puts you in the right mindset to tackle whatever’s at hand.
If you’re applying for jobs, the dress code is even more stringent. Test out how you look before the video interview actually kicks off, using your PC’s camera. Make sure that the lighting is appropriate (you don’t want to be a silhouette surrounded by shadows, or washed out by sunlight).
Test Your Software Well Beforehand
Different companies are going to fall back on different communications and video software during this time. For example, some might opt for Zoom, while others might want you to use the video-conferencing feature in an app such as Teams.
Whatever platform you’re asked to use, make sure to download and test it out well in advance of your meeting or interview. The last thing you want is to try and load everything up two minutes before your meeting, only to find you need to download an update or troubleshoot a weird connection issue.
Check Your Video Background
Even if you don’t have a home office, you can make sure that the environment around you is well-ordered and clean, and that there isn’t anything distracting or weird in the frame. Having a blank wall as your backdrop isn’t the worst choice, for instance.
In addition to the visual background, there’s also the prospect of ambient noise wrecking your conversation. Silence or shut off your phone before your video time, and make sure that anyone in your house knows you’re engaged in a meeting.
Look at the Camera
While it’s always tempting to stare at the screen during the video interview, it’s important to focus on your PC’s camera so you’re looking your interviewer or teammate in the eye.
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
As you would with an in-person interview (or a big, mission-critical meeting), take the time to recite answers to potential questions out loud. Also, if you’re engaging in a video interview for a job, and you fully expect to share your screen in order to show off some coding work you’ve done, make sure to rehearse your clicks and highlights beforehand. Preparation will make you feel more confident during the interview itself.