The 3 biggest mistakes you can make in video interviews— and how you can avoid them

Video interviews can add additional stress to what is an already stressful time in your job search. Learn how to avoid three of the most common mistakes, and make a great first impression!
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Job interviews have always been stressful situations for candidates searching for a new position, and video interviews, which have increased recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have only added additional stress. Our candidates have found that they only have seconds to make a first impression with an interviewer while managing sometimes difficult Wi-Fi, loud background noises, camera positioning, and other challenges.

We’ve seen that certain mistakes made during virtual interviews, however, can bother hiring managers more than others,  and some could even cost you a job offer. HR software company Zenefits recently polled over 1,000 hiring managers and business owners across the United States to discover the most common mistakes candidates have been making during job interviews, and how our candidates can learn from them. 

Here are some of the biggest “don’ts” of virtual interviews

1. Not explaining a pandemic work gap

It’s well known that millions of job seekers have struggled with unemployment during the last year as workers faced layoffs, furloughs or possibly had to quit their job to care for a housebound child or sick family member. While work gaps not as much of an issue as they used to be, the research shows that many candidates don’t clearly talk about why that gap exists during an interview. 44% of the managers Zenefits surveyed said “not explaining a work gap” was the biggest mistake prospective employees have made during their virtual interviews. 

The hiring managers said that when asked about a work gap, they applicant would give vague, short answers. However, at Visium, we often remind our candidates that it is important to explain the gap in your resume and talk about how you used that time to make you stronger in your career and life.

2. Showing up late

While everyone learns that being on time is an essential skill while in school, sometimes its easy to forget. At an interview, a hiring manager is looking for three main things: promptness, reliability and courteousness. If you arrive late to your interview, you are already failing all of these tests. 10% of managers reported “not showing up on time or technology trouble” as a recurring interview mistake among job applicants in Zenefits’ survey. 

Hiring managers will tend to have less patience for being late when using virtual vs. in-person interviews, because you don’t have to deal with things such as location and travel, it is significantly easier to sit down in front of a computer.

Of course, Computer problems can happen, so we suggest you prepare just as if it was an in-person interview and practice logging on to the call ahead of time, at least a few hours, to make sure your computer’s software is updated. Just like at an in-person interview, we recommend being early. Sign in at least 5-10 minutes early to check that you’re able to log on to the call. Popular interview platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams also let you test your camera and microphone before calls. 

3. Excessive background noise and distractions

If you are located in the bustling downtown area of your city, or you have a loud pet; you may want to consider another location for your online interview. 38% of hiring managers in Zenefits’ survey listed “excessive noises or interruptions” as a frequent issue with their candidates.

If it appears to the hiring manager that you didn’t do any preparation for the interview and find a quiet location, it can come off to the hiring manager like you don’t care about the position. In addition, if the position is a remote opportunity, the hiring manager could worry that those distractions will follow you into work hours and cause you to be less effective on the job.   

How should you prepare?

While we can be sure that virtual job interviews will continue to dominate the hiring process as cases of Covid-19 rise and companies delay their return-to-office dates practice calls can save you and the interviewer headaches. 

Just like any in-person interview, we recommend that all our candidates run through a mock interview with a friend or colleague. Use this time to ask your friend questions like: ‘Did I look interested in the job?’ and ‘How did my background look?’ to get an accurate gauge of how the real interview will go. Preparation is key and can prevent many of these issues from occurring.

At Visium Resources, we know that preparation is the key to success. That is why we always hold a preliminary video interview with all our candidates to make sure that you are prepared to meet with the client and get a feel for the position. For more information about Visium’s open jobs, click here

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