Niamh Hand

Joined in: 2020

Job title: Talent Manager

Video interviews are more prevalent than ever. As a Talent Manager, Niamh has seen her fair share of them. She breaks down her top three mistakes to avoid on your next one.

Let’s face it, the world as we know it has changed and many of these changes in both our personal and professional lives are here to stay. There were lots of things that I feared at the beginning of the first lockdown, but the thought of hiring solely from virtual interviews was definitely high up on the list. Convincing stakeholders (and myself) that we could make a very senior hire having never met the person didn’t feel like any small feat! But how do we put our best foot forward sitting in a room in our house? Here are some things to consider for your next, inevitably virtual, interview.


Is there importance in a handshake?

I was convinced you needed to meet a person face to face but actually, as time has gone on I have been part of virtual interviews, virtual assessment centres and quite frankly, I’m here for it! What do we really think we gain from being in the same physical space as someone – a sense of their aura? I don’t think so! So virtual can stay if you ask me, it also helps us remove some of our natural bias’. The ability to be your true self at work is so important to enable you to be happy in your job – nobody wants to act 24/7 and where better to be yourself than at home? Our familiar surroundings should help us relax for our interview – do make the most of it. But here are, in my opinion, three key things to remember


It is worth wearing suitable trousers!?

We’re always told we can’t predict the future and yet somehow we still never prepare for all eventualities. There is a 99% chance the interviewers will not see the bottom half of what you’re wearing BUT what if the smoke alarm goes off? What if someone accidentally enters the room and then forgets to close the door after they leave? What if your nervous, spill your water and need to get something to clean it up – up you get and suddenly your audience see your brightly coloured summer shorts or your fluffy winter pyjamas! Yes it can change the interview to be light hearted, but immediately the first talking point for them when they debrief will be “their trouser choice was entertaining” – don’t let that be what you’re remembered for!


Blurring your background doesn’t make it invisible!

I think I’m almost expecting to see the Teams blur feature around people in real life! It’s a nifty feature and can stop other distractions in a room, particularly when you want to make yourself the focus, however it doesn’t make your surroundings invisible. In the current climate, everyone will be completely understanding if you are working in a bedroom and your bed is in the background – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be neat and tidy. We try to present ourselves well in a face to face interview and we should do the same virtually - so make your bed, remove any offensive posters/pieces of art, or anything that will detract focus from you. If your interviewer spends 10 minutes trying to figure out what’s behind you, they’re distracted and less likely to hear the excellent value you will bring to their team and company.


Place the interviewers on the screen with your camera

When we’re in meetings now, there are so many potential distractions – urgent Skype or Teams messages and we think nobody will ever notice if we just sneak in a quick response - but in reality, we all notice. Everyone is getting more familiar with the fact that we’ll have multiple screens and will interact through video, but we’re human, we want to be sure that we have the attention of the person on the other end! If you have multiple screens, make sure you place the video of the people you are talking to on the same screen as your own camera or as close to it as possible. It will make it look much more “normal” and as though you are looking at them when speaking and answering their questions. It’s distracting as an interviewer if most of what you’re looking at is the neck of the interviewee as they look at you on the screen above their laptop and are watching you on that! Think when Harry shouts at Dumbledore… “LOOK AT ME”!


We’re all in the same boat!

The virtual world is becoming much more normal and even when we can all meet in person again, it won’t always be the best business decision to pay lots of expenses just to have people in the same room.  Don’t fear the virtual interview, it’s probably not going anywhere! Just remember, everyone will be in the same boat and it can feel just as awkward whether you’re interviewing or being interviewed! So breath, enjoy it…and don’t wear your pyjamas!