Ensure your personality shines through, despite digital barriers.
Technological advances always bring with them changes in procedures, and job interviews are no exception. In fact, a survey by OfficeTeam revealed that more than six in 10 companies conduct interviews via video, and 13% plan on using it more in the future. This makes sense — video and phone interviews can save time for both companies and candidates, and they are typically more convenient as well.
This convenience comes at a price, however. Results of a study from McMaster's DeGroote School of Business have shown that video interviews can make it more difficult to make a positive social impression. Reports on the data explain: “In simulated job interviews, candidates who were interviewed by video were rated lower by interviewers and were less likely to be recommended for hiring.”
For better or worse, being likable in an interview is crucial to landing the job. Think of it this way: Your skills and experience may be exactly what the company is looking for, but if they don't like spending time with you, they won't want you as part of their team. So with the odds stacked against you in video and phone interviews, how can you get through the barriers and show why you would be enjoyable to work with? Here are some strategies.
This may seem like the simplest trick to boosting your interview likability, but it's likely the most important: smiling. Generally speaking, people who smile more are perceived to be more friendly, energetic, and positive — the last of which is a trait sought after by almost three-quarters of employers. By offering up an authentic grin, you'll show the interviewer that you would bring a positive attitude to the workplace.
“But what about during a phone interview?” you may ask. Surprisingly, the same advice still rings true. Smiling changes the tone of your voice, and there's been research proving that listeners can detect them through sound alone. An interviewer may not have the visual proof that you are smiling, but they'll hear pleasantness in your voice that will give them the same impression as if they were seeing it in person.
The distance that video and phone interviews create can make it more challenging to convey your feelings. Because of this, it is more likely that interviewees will come off as apathetic or impersonal — not what you want when gunning for a job. To ensure that this doesn't happen to you, be extra expressive with your words and, when on camera, gestures.
Now, we're not telling you to ham it up as if you were on “Days of Our Lives” — that kind of overperformance won't help your case. Instead, keep your expressiveness genuine by focusing on your honest passion and enthusiasm. Channel the things that are real for you — your interest in the field, why you would fit in with the company, etc. — and place some extra emphasis on them.
Choose your space wisely
Just as important as your performance is the place you choose to conduct it, as this could potentially impact the impression you make. If you place yourself in a public space, like a coffee shop, you won't be able to control the volume of what's around you. Ultimately, that means that you and the interviewer may struggle to hear and understand each other.
Employers won't respond positively to you if they have to struggle to get through your interview; regardless of how well you answer questions, they're likely to be more consumed with their annoyance of the situation than your actual performance. Therefore, always opt for a location where you have maximum control over the volume around you — your home is typically the best choice.
Similarly, a cluttered area in a video interview can give the impression that you would be unorganized or slapdash in your work. To keep a professional appearance, clean up the space in your camera's line of sight (you can even toss things on the floor if you're short on time). You'll be much more likable when the interviewer can focus on your stellar performance instead of making assumptions based on what's behind you.
Make “eye contact”
Since, unlike smiling, eye contact can't be heard, this tip is specific to video interviews. That said, true eye contact is one of the best ways humans can feel connected to the person they're talking to. Unfortunately, it's difficult to achieve when not actually in person.
When completing a video interview, be especially conscious of your eye placement. It's natural to want to look at your interviewer's face on the screen, but keep in mind that to them, you will appear to be glancing downwards. To help, place your webcam at eye-level and ensure it's directly aligned with your natural line of sight. If you're using the webcam attached to your laptop, adjust the placement of your computer (or the height of your chair) to achieve that optimal alignment.
Do your best to talk into the webcam, not the screen, when responding to your interviewer's questions. When they can see your eyes, they'll find you more personable. After all, it's the eyes that are windows to the soul — not the eyelids.
Making the right impression
When in an interview, presenting yourself as professional and polished is essential, but likability is just as important. Video and phone interviews may make it more challenging to appear affable, but the convenient screening approach will likely be around for a while. Instead of falling victim to the barriers it builds, place extra focus on the methods that will help you break them down. With some extra expression, a smile, a quiet place, and a strategically placed webcam, you'll convince the interviewer that you have both the qualifications and disposition they're looking for.
Likability is hard to achieve without receiving any feedback. Try working with a professional interview coach to get guidance on how an interviewer may perceive you. Click here to learn more.