By controlling some of these variables, your message, experience, and expertise are sure to have the spotlight.
Preparation for the content of your job interview (rehearsing how to answer both common and uncommon questions, carefully analyzing the job description, perfecting your elevator pitch) can all be for naught if your presentation skills are lacking or, even worse, nonexistent.
There’s no doubt you’ve worked hard to get to where you are and you’ve got years of accomplishments under your belt. But how can you ensure that you’re presenting the real you that a potential employer would want to hire, especially as you’re working to figure out the particulars of doing this over a video call?
So much is dependent on not just the substance of your interview responses but on your delivery. And this is compounded by a remote platform. I often reference the work of Albert Mehrabian, whose study determined that only 7% of your impact on an audience is due to your words—the rest is presentation.
So before you log on to your next virtual job interview, be sure to include the following three points on your checklist.
Fidgeting is something we’re already doing on the regular. Unfortunately, it’s exacerbated during video interviews. Actions such as rocking in your chair, swaying side to side, or even futzing with your pen will do you a disservice in two ways. The first is that the movement becomes a distraction like visual static. It’s actually more difficult for your audience to absorb what you’re saying when they’re watching you move around. The second is that you’ve shown your hand, inadvertently making it clear that you’re nervous.
One way to maintain a poker face is to make sure you are balanced in your chair and find a neutral position to start. This could mean that your arms start on the sides of the chair or in your lap. Another way is to make sure your feet are touching the ground—that way, if you feel yourself starting to sway back and forth or shift in your chair, you can make the choice to come back to a neutral position.
By not “showing” your interviewer you are nervous, they will be able to better focus on your answers (the “what” of your interview), rather than be distracted by your actions. Do this well and you will exude leadership presence, which is an irresistible quality to potential employers.
TEST YOUR TECH
Don’t roll your eyes at this one. It is a real problem in our new normal. When speaking with my clients, there has been no shortage of interview horror stories surrounding technology.
I had a client tell me they thought they had an amazing interview and nailed it. But as they were wrapping up, they asked the interviewer if they had any more questions. And their response? “Why are you not on camera?” They thought they were on camera because their camera light was on. Now the interviewer probably could have mentioned something earlier, but it’s up to you to test and ask at the beginning. It’s an easy mistake to make and a simple one to fix. But you have to remain vigilant.
Whatever the terms you and the company agree to for the interview (on-camera, phone, Zoom, MSFT Teams), make sure you test your tech.
If you have an on-camera interview, be sure to ask at the beginning, “Can you see me and hear me okay?” to check this potential problem off the list. Also, it’s not a bad idea to test with a friend or colleague an hour or so before the interview to make sure your sound is working, your camera is working, and—if you’re using headphones—they are properly synced.
Another helpful tip? If you use many platforms (Zoom, Webex, MSFT Teams, etc.) and you’re hopping from one to the next, be sure to close out of the platform you’re using, as your camera (and sometimes sound) may try to use the previous platform.
KNOW WHERE TO LOOK
This may sound redundant, but it bears repeating.
At an in-person interview, you would want to make eye contact with the interviewer.
With virtual interviews, you could, but you probably shouldn’t (at least not most of the time).
When you are speaking, look into the camera. When you are listening, you can look at the person on the screen. This will give the interviewer the sense that you are making eye contact and contributing a great deal to the 93% nonverbal communication you need to master.
Doing this will not only make you look more confident, but it will also remove any doubts the interviewer may have around why you’re not looking at them, what you may be hiding, and why you don’t appear composed.
There are choices you can make to control how you interview. And by controlling some of these variables, your message, experience, and expertise are sure to have the spotlight.