What is the key to a good interview? A firm handshake? Eye contact? Charisma?
In my experience, I have found that the secret comes down to the interviewer. Even those who feel they are terrible at interviewing can have a decent interview when paired with an interviewer who is trained and skilled at extracting the information they need.
So what do you do when you remove the interviewer from the interview?
This is what is happening more as large companies, especially those who are inundated with hundreds or thousands of applicants, are turning to pre-recorded interviews of their top talents.
What does a pre-recorded interview entail? Essentially, it is when a candidate is asked to answer interview questions while being recorded, typically on a website or other video service. There is no interviewer to ask questions, rather each candidate is provided a set of questions and asked to respond into their camera and mic.
In most cases, however, these interviews are timed, and the candidate is given 30 to 60 seconds to read the question and prepare an answer, then another minute or two to record his or her response. And, more important, you only get one shot at it.
These interviews serve a number of purposes beyond reducing the burden on companies to conduct one-on-one interviews. It shows candidates' ability to think and react under higher pressure, and it reflects on their ability to communicate effectively. Secondarily, it demonstrates their tech capabilities.
So if you have a pre-recorded video interview in your future, here are a few tips to get you ready.
1. Check Your Equipment
First, never conduct your interview from a hand-held phone. If you are limited to your phone, at least set your camera up with a reliable tripod mount.
Most current laptops and computers have adequate cameras and mics to conduct an interview. If you are working with an older piece of equipment, consider borrowing from a friend or investing in a good mic and camera for yours.
And, of course, be sure you have reliable internet access.
2. Find a Quiet Space
Conduct your recorded interview in a place that is free from clutter and distraction so you can concentrate. And because most computer mics will pick up background noise, choose a place that is reliably quiet.
3. Set the Right Lighting
Again, most computer cameras pick up low light environments, but to be safe, set up lights behind the camera that shine on your face. Avoid lights that cast shadows and never sit in front of a brightly lit background, such as a window.
4. Position the Camera
The camera should be elevated high enough so that you look straight into the camera, not higher or lower. The last thing interviewers want to see is a recording of the top of your forehead or the hairs up your nose.
Also, the camera should only be far enough away that you are positioned in the center of the shot, from the chest up and with no part of your head cut off.
5. Make Eye Contact
The camera on your computer should be your area of focus, as it is like looking your interviewer in the eyes. Many look at the screen or around the room, which can be distracting. If your image on the screen distracts you, tape a piece of paper over the distraction.
6. Sit Comfortably
Sit up tall and confidently, but relax and try to remain comfortable. Since you will most likely be at a table, keep your arms above the table and crossed. If you are sitting in a chair, keep your hand folded in front of you and your shoulders square to the camera. And, if you use your hands when you talk, keep the gestures limited and in the field of view.
An authentic and enthusiastic smile resonates over video just as much as an in-person interview.
8. Practice, Practice, Practice
Even with experienced interviewees, I have found most are shocked how difficult it is to record themselves under such extreme conditions. For that reason, you do not want your first recorded interview to be with a job you really want.
All you have to do is spend some time in front of your computer recording yourself. Practice answering common questions asked of candidates for that job, and ask friends to ask you impromptu questions -- all while you record yourself. More important, review the recordings to so you can improve on thing you are doing wrong.