We are about to start using video interviews as an integral part of our screening process at the New Entrepreneurs Foundation. We have done this in order to increase significantly the number of people we can see (albeit virtually) before making an initial shortlist. As we are about to open applications for this year's group of New Entrepreneurs Foundation students, I thought it would be helpful to provide some tips on how to do a good video interview.
1. Remember that this video interview is very important. If you do it right, you will be through to the next round but if you underperform that's the last we'll see of you. There are a number of things to remember and to prepare for in advance and you need to think about them if you want to be successful. It is different from a remote interview because you are answering a specific set of pre set questions rather than having a two way conversation with someone. That means you have to think about whether to smile or look serious and you don't have anyone to take facial cues from. My advice would be to act naturally. Smile at various points, but don't keep on grinning as this will become very off putting.
2. Crucially, you can go back and re- record or pause the filming as many times as you like so remember to use that facility. It's not like having your passport photo taken where you blink or twitch and that photo stays with you for the next ten years in all its rather dubious glory. I saw a video pitch last week where the candidate went off to make a cup of tea and then returned to continue his peroration without pausing the video and presumably without reviewing his performance before sending it. Why would you do that? If you are unhappy with what you have done, record it again until you are happy with it.
3. Make sure that you practice beforehand. Although you are all technologically savvy and are the generation of selfies, snapchat and youtube, it is still a new way to be interviewed and requires rehearsal of answers. You will find that there is far less room for waffle than when you are face to face. You need to be concise and have a beginning, middle and end to each answer. This precision will need work and is unlikely to come without some sort of preparation. You are pitching, and don't forget it. This isn't just a chat.
4. Show your filmed interview to a couple of mates whose opinion you trust and see if they pick up anything you haven't noticed. That poster on the back wall which you may have lived with for so long you don't notice it, could stand out like a belisha beacon to someone else watching. Similarly, odd mannerisms and incoherent content are more likely to be picked out by an impartial viewer.
5. What background are you displaying when you film? Many people seem to use the kitchen, presumably because of the table. We don't want to see dirty washing up, last night's supper or any other kitchen paraphernalia. Move the table so you have a blank wall behind you whichever room you do the interview in.
6. Just because this is done at home and you are not going to meet someone, or even talk to them live, you need to look the part. Dress for the job for which you are applying. If you are going for a job in a bank, wear a suit. If you are flopping around in barely disguised pyjamas it won't help your case.
7. Remember that your video will highlight physical ticks so if you know you have a habit of playing with your hair or scratching your head, don't do it! Also remember it isn't a phone conversation so don't fiddle with your nails, yawn or look around.
8. Similarly, verbal ticks are magnified. If you tend to use 'you know' or 'like' or 'so' in your speech patterns, it will be far more pronounced on a video than in real life so be aware that you do it and try to avoid these phrases on film.
9. Positioning yourself: Many people angle their laptops so that all we can see is a view straight up their nostrils. These are reviewed by you so I am not sure why people feel this is the best possible view of themselves. Do make sure that you are neither too close nor too far away from the lap top. Don't stand at the far end of the room or you will become a speck in the distance and it won't help your case. Similarly, too close is scary so choose a sensible distance and a sensible camera angle.
10. On this theme, think about your voice. People seem to shout or whisper for some reason when they are making a recording. Just speak in your normal voice and adjust the volume control accordingly. It is very hard to listen to screeching, booming or whispering.
This list is not intended to put you off, but to help you avoid common pitfalls. Some recorded interviews are fantastic and if you do a great job on the video you know that that the company will be eager to meet you in person and you will go to the front of the line when they are deciding between two equally good candidates. My final advice is to embrace it and after a few practices, you will find it comes totally naturally. Don't be put off by having to do a video interview. After all, it could secure that dream job or a place on the New Entrepreneurs Foundation!