Setting the Stage for Your Video Interview: Job Hunting From Home

If you’ve lined up your first video interview, or just new to the whole idea in general, how do you get started? And how do you prepare for such a thing? In this article, we’ll cover the basics that will help you set the stage—and take a quick look at the types of businesses that are hiring too.

For years now, the number of people working from home has been on the rise. Whether that entails “WFH” one day a week or practically the whole week, there’s been a 44% growth in remote work over the last five years. Now, with so many businesses requiring their employees to temporarily work from home, that number is unquestionably reaching new heights. How that plays out in the long term remains to be seen. Yet there’s another dimension to working from home that doesn’t get talked about all that often: job hunting from home.

That’s been on my mind in particular right now, particularly as we and many of our friends and partners in the industry have people working from home—and who’re still actively hiring right now. Likewise, the people who are looking for work are even moreso on my mind. So I caught up with Shawn Hutcherson, our Lead Talent Acquisition Partner here at McAfee, to get his take on remote hiring so that people can get a leg up on this style of interviewing if it’s new to them or if they simply want a refresher.

Shawn had plenty of great insight and advice, so much so that we’re going to spread it out across two articles. In this one, we’ll focus on getting your tech and your space ready for the interview. In the second article, we’ll cover the interview itself, like what interviewers are looking for and great ways you can show off great form when you’re in the midst of your conversation.

Job Hunting from Home: Where to Start

As said, employers have caught onto the trend—and the recent need—to embrace remote work. That’s taken many forms, yet suffice it to say that more employers are interviewing candidates by way of video interviews. The benefits are many. Among them, it allows both employers and candidates to look beyond their own backyard and do so in an efficient way, particularly during the early “getting to know you” stages of the interview process. And now, it allows companies and organizations to keep hiring even if their physical offices are temporarily closed, which is great news for job seekers.

So, if you’ve lined up your first video interview, or just new to the whole idea in general, how do you get started? And how do you prepare for such a thing? Here’s what Shawn and I talked about.

Pick Your Device of Choice

Start off in your comfort zone. Pick the best device that’s best for you, the one that you’re familiar with. Chances are that’s your computer or laptop. This way, you’ll be in a familiar space when it comes to configuring your device for a video interview—like the microphone levels, speaker volume, camera settings, and simply navigating around.

Here, you can run a few tests to get everything set up the way you like. Some people opt to use their smartphone earbuds or wireless headphones for video calls, which can help prevent audio feedback loops that happen when a computer microphone picks up the audio from its speakers (like in a bad high school assembly). This is often fine, particularly if it gives you and your interviewer the best audio quality. However, avoid using a larger headset and microphone combo, like gamer headsets, simply because they can be distracting.

As for cameras, many laptops have them built in as a standard feature. If that’s not the case for you, or if you have a desktop computer without a camera, there are several inexpensive options. If you’re shopping around, do a little research. There are plenty of reputable sites that provide mini-reviews, pricing overviews, and give you a sense for where you can make your purchase right now. And of course, when you get your camera, don’t wait until interview day to install it.

Make Sure Your Technology is Secure

This is basic hygiene. Start off by ensuring that your device (and all your connected devices while you’re at it) has a comprehensive security solution in place. Given that you’re relying so heavily on your devices while you’re working from home, you’ll want to know that you’re protected against malware, viruses, and phishing attacks. You’ll also benefit from other features that help you manage your passwords, protect your identity, safeguard your privacy, and more.

Pick the Location for Your Interview

Set the stage. Treat your interview space like a movie location. First off, you’ll want to pick a space where there will be no interruptions or distracting noises. (Or at least fewer interruptions and distracting noises.) It’s also good to let others in your home when your interview is and how long it will run so they can help keep things as quiet as possible for you. More broadly, think about your “set.” In addition to picking a quiet space, take a look at the lighting in the room where you’ll be. Diffused light that doesn’t cast any strange shadows is best, such as natural light or overhead lighting.

Just like a director, think about your camera angle. In effect, the camera is the way you’ll make eye contact with the interviewer. Make sure that the camera is eye level with you so that it appears that you’re making eye contact with the person from the same height. Nothing feels more off-putting for an interviewer than a camera angle that appears to have you looking down at them (and with them looking up your nose in return).

Test Your Setup

Well in advance of your interview, do a dry run with a friend or a family member using a conferencing tool that you can trust. This will give you a chance to make yourself familiar with the equipment you’re using. For example, you can check your microphone and speakers so that you can hear clearly and speak at a good volume without any issues. Next, turn around and look at your backdrop. Choose a view that’s not distracting, and if you need to give your space a quick tidy to make it look presentable go ahead and do that too. A good backdrop will show off your professionalism and that you’re taking the interview seriously. Ask your friend for feedback too.

As for software, interviewers will generally send you an invite with a link for the video conference room you’ll be using. Be aware that your computer may not have that software installed, so take the opportunity to click the link and see if your computer prompts you for an install. Likewise, some video conferencing tools don’t require a software install at all. They simply use a web browser. Best to get this squared away well before your interview so that there are no day-of surprises. You’ll also want to log in a few minutes early just before your actual interview, again to nip any pesky issues in the bud before showtime.

Have a Backup Plan

Glitches happen. Your internet can go out. Your interviewer’s internet can go out. Software may not co-operate. Or you might have an urgent family matter that requires your attention right away. Any number of things can occur on the day of the interview that may be out of your control. However, you can plan for them. In advance of the interview, share a backup plan with your interviewer. Swap phone numbers so that you can switch to a call or get in touch with each other quickly if an issue pops up. Consider this part of your interview prep. A good employer will recognize the planning and foresight you’re putting into the interview, which can reflect well on you.

So, Who’s hiring?

As we saw at the start of the article, working from home has been on an upward swing for some time now. Businesses are finding ways of supporting more and more roles from home as technology continues to improve—and as they see the benefits of remote working in terms of lower overhead and happier, more productive employees who stick around longer thanks to the flexibility of working from home to some extent or other.

For more specifics in helping with your job hunt, I recently came across an article from Investopedia about working from home that also touches on the job search aspect as well. It presents an excellent overview of which roles and which firms are particularly WFH-friendly. It also offers up some solid general advice about working from home and for avoiding employment scams, as unfortunately there are crooks who’re more than happy to take advantage of our collective “from home” situation right now.

And yes, we’re hiring too. Feel free to drop by and check out our listings as well!

Next up in our second half of this article—game day. Your actual interview. I’m looking forward to sharing plenty more that’ll help you prepare for an outstanding call.


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