Video interview

Recruiting in the Time of Covid – How to Video Interview

The wealth management, private banking and family office sectors are adjusting to the new norm. With markets dropping by 25% since the start of the year, big private banks are seeing 25% less AuM and 25% less revenue with the same level of costs, in fact the only variables are the discretionary bonuses paid to staff and the Bank of England has forbidden them to pay dividends. Despite the recent resurgence of 10% since last Monday, the profitability levels of most banks are being squeezed, so if you work for one of the big banks, it is a good idea to have a Plan B up your sleeve!

If you’ve managed to clear your head and are now starting to think about the future and growing your organisation, smaller more nimble and progressive firms are already seeing this as a huge recruiting opportunity. We have had several conversations over the last fortnight with firms looking to hire rainmaker candidates who are feeling disenfranchised with their current employers and we are expecting to see a surge in recruitment over the coming months as confidence begins to grow again, much like the curve we saw after the credit crunch in 2008.

If you are working for a large bank then now is the perfect time to dip your toe in the water and see if we can help you understand more about some of the other options out there and perhaps secure a new role in one of these smaller firms pursuing the opportunities that are opening up as the world economy shifts. However, as a result of social distancing, it will mean completing much of the recruitment process online, over the telephone and utilising video conferencing for interviews. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of our top tips for success in a video interview, including what not to do.

1. Look Professional

It goes without saying that it is important to appear professional during a video interview, so take some time to get mentally prepared and choose smart-casual clothes, no tie required. Put a glass of water on your desk, out of sight of your camera, in case you need to hydrate during your interview. If you prepare as though you are going to a face-to-face interview, you are more likely to carry yourself better and come across as a more competent candidate or a professional interviewer. This is the first essential step for video conferencing.

2. Prepare fully for your video interview

It is equally important to bear in mind that interviewing via video call is not an excuse to be unprepared. You will need to put in as much work for the interview as you would if it was in person, if not more. You may find that you are judged more on your words than your overall manner as you will not have the benefits of body language cues to help you.

Make sure you set aside time in your schedule to prepare for your interview fully, including thoroughly researching the firm, position and interviewers or candidates beforehand. This is a great market for candidates looking for a new role so you can approach your interviews with confidence, but as always, you will only secure the position if you can prove that you are QCI – Qualified, Competent and Interested.

3. Practice makes perfect

As well as thorough preparation, it is also worth doing a practise video interview to ensure that you have your technique honed and ready for the real thing. Video calls are very different to talking in person. From shaky internet connections to a camera that only looks up your nose, there are a myriad of obstacles that can prevent you from getting your message across effectively.

Think about the set up of your camera, a slightly raised angle looking down on you from above will give the most flattering angle and will avoid you having to look down at the camera, ideally your eye line should hit the middle of the camera so you can make eye contact with your interviewer. Think about lighting, where will the sun be at the time of day that you have agreed to interview, and whether you need to add artificial light to prevent your face being in shadow. Also consider the background, some of the video conferencing platforms allow you to blur your background, but if that isn’t an option then try to choose a clutter-free background so the interviewer is purely focussed on you.

If you have a tripod then you can use that to keep the camera steady during your interview but if you don’t then find something to prop the camera on which will keep it still and prevent you having to hold it for the duration of the call. This is particularly important if you are using your phone as your arm will get very sore and may begin to shake during an hour long video interview! If you are using a laptop then you may have a camera built in but check that the microphone and speakers on your laptop are good enough quality beforehand.

It is a good idea to enlist the help of a self isolating friend or family member to practise your video conferencing method and iron out any issues beforehand. This way, you can ensure that your camera is in a good position and your sound works perfectly ahead of time. If you know you will need to do a presentation during the interview, now is the time to check that the program works and you know how to move between the different interfaces. You could even give your volunteer a list of questions to ask and do a full mock interview.

4. Choose your location wisely

As well as making sure your connection is good – which may include banning Netflix for the household for the duration of your interview – you should also make sure that your location is one that will create a good first impression. Choose a room that has good light and somewhere where there is no risk of family members walking through the back of the shot. Likewise, avoid the sound of the washing machine in the background, flushing loos and any of the other soundtracks to normal life.

These extra steps are as much for your benefit as it is for your interviewers. You will be able to perform better without unnecessary distractions. Similarly, it will help to ensure that the only factor influencing the hiring manager’s decision is your interview method, and not the interruptions and interjections of your home life.

You might find it helpful to pin your notes and questions at the same height as the camera and behind it, if you need to. These will be out of sight of the interviewer but will help you to remember the key points you want to get across – that is one key benefit of a video interview over the traditional face to face meeting!

5. Sign up to the video interview platform in advance

Each company is likely to have their video conferencing platform of choice, whether it is Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype or any one of the many platforms available today, most of them require a log in and some require you to download an app on your device. It is a good idea to set up an account with all of these popular platforms and practise signing in and using them before your interview is due to start. You don’t want a simple technical hitch getting in the way of you making a good first impression.

Video interviews are the new going out

In these uncertain times, no one is conducting face-to-face interviews; if you are looking to secure a new job or rainmaker candidate, you will need to get used to video conferencing. It can be a daunting skill to learn as you are unable to use your in-person charms, but it also means that you will be judged solely based on your abilities. Conduct yourself with the same level of professionalism that you would in any other interview or client meeting.

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