Virtually Perfect: Top Tips for Video Conferencing in the Age of Covid-19
With Covid-19 now in our midst, many firms and companies are facing new challenges to continue to provide safe working environments for their employees and prospective lateral candidates. Due to these circumstances, remote work and meetings are quickly becoming the new normal. In the recruiting world, the appetite for strong candidates and hiring continues at a great pace in 2020. We continue to have candidate meetings in all our markets, to submit top talent in connection with opportunities, and to schedule/complete our candidates’ interviews with clients. With that in mind, and following on the heels of last week’s article on best practices and tips on recruiting in the age of COVID-19, it makes sense to address interviewing via video conference. A forthcoming third article in the series will discuss best practices concerning telephone interviews.
While interviews continue to move forward, be scheduled and completed, one change we are seeing is the format of the interview. There is a significant uptick in interviewing via video conference. We’ve all FaceTimed using our personal phones, so the prospect of a video interview isn’t too far off for many attorneys to navigate. However, it is imperative that you now become very comfortable with this format of meeting. Most firms utilize Zoom, GoTo Meeting or Skype regularly for a multitude of legal tasks and meetings, and interviewing candidates is no exception. While it remains paramount to conduct in person meetings with prospective lateral attorneys whenever possible and if appropriate, the process can be streamlined and simplified during this outbreak through video conferencing. Therefore, as the Mestel team facilitates the lateral recruitment process for our candidates and clients alike, here a few tips on successfully navigating a great video interview:
- Professionalism: What to wear is always a question when going into an interview. It can be even more confusing when participating in a video interview. Here are three simple guidelines to remember so that you look your best on video; keep it simple, keep it sharp and keep it situationally appropriate. Dress professionally for the video, as if you were attending a client networking event or conference. We also suggest dressing for the meeting from head to toe. (No yoga pants or sweats!) Your color palette and visuals should be simplified and non-distracting. On video, it is best to stick with solid colors, to avoid busy patterns, and to opt for a neutral palate (avoiding black or white). Finally, dress appropriately for the situation. It is highly likely that neither you nor the interviewer will be taking this interview while at the office. With that said, it is still critical to appear polished and professional. While a suit and tie is not necessary, we do recommend clothing which is still business appropriate. For example, a simple collared shirt or blouse with pants are great options. This will erase any potential question-marks by your interviewer on professionalism and judgment.
- Privacy: We have all seen the videos of the kids or dogs entering a room while someone is being interviewed. You may remember the viral video of the CNN correspondent Robert Kelly when his children crashed his interview in 2017. This was highly entertaining and quite relatable for many; however, when it comes to your meeting, we want your interview to be memorable for what you have to say, rather than the behavior of uninvited guests! If your interview is during the day, some popular co-work facilities nearby may have rooms for use. If you are working with a Mestel recruiter, we are more than happy to assist you at one of our offices across the country to ensure you able to come in and out, with minimal interaction and with a quiet, private spot to conduct your meeting. If you are taking the meeting from home, make sure your background is professional and as simple as possible. Locating yourself in an office environment or with a plain wall behind you. Avoid having items visible behind you such as beds or other distracting items. Locate yourself in a spot where you will not be distracted by other family members, roommates, or the family pet. Try to get an idea, from your recruiter or the firm, on how long they expect your interview(s) to last so you can plan accordingly. With that said, and with limited space, a private office may not be possible. Therefore, if you are in a less than ideal spot, ensure that you start your meeting with a quick reference and apology. Ex. “Great to meet you – apologies for the less than ideal location. Due to the circumstances, I have more limited space.” This ensures that your interviewer can be confident in your judgment.
- Positioning: Setting yourself up for the video is also important. Position your laptop webcam so that you are looking slightly up at it and you are centered on the screen. You may want a few books underneath it. When you answer a question, look at the webcam and not the screen to maximize eye contact with your interviewer. When listening, you can look back to the screen. Remember to have your light source (a window, a lamp) in front of you, rather than behind you, so that you are not caught in silhouette. As noted above, practice at the time of day that your interview is scheduled, so your lighting is right. If you wear glasses, try having lighting from your side rather than in front, to reduce glare. Overall, test out your look with your webcam, during the time of day you will be interviewing to ensure you make the best impression. If necessary, consider covering the window fully and going with lamps. A video conference is a great way to personally connect with your interviewer despite a lack of in-person meeting. Ensure that there are clear and full visuals to take advantage of this tool.
- Planning: Take a few preliminary steps to make sure you will be 100% ready for the meeting. A day or two before the interview check that your webcam, audio and internet are all working. Practice your video interview with your recruiter, a friend or family member so you ensure everything will go smoothly. During your test interview, ensure you are not getting feedback or echoing on the line. Using headphones or making the call from your phone is a simple solution for this. Immediately before you begin the actual interview, turn off your phone ringer on your cell phone and make sure all email or browser windows on your computer are closed to avoid distractions. Review all documents and information prior to the call and then put them away so that you are not tempted to read or look down. We recommend that you keep headphones handy and within reach in case you are encountering feedback or an echo and that you write down the phone number of your interviewer nearby, should the video or audio stop working, or something arises.
- Performance: Focus on these simple tips so that you give a polished impression so that the interviewer will be able to focus on the strength of your candidacy. Throughout the conversation, ensure that you speak clearly and at a pace and volume which the interviewer does not need to strain to hear you. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer in the beginning if your volume is OK (or to speak up and alert your interviewer if you cannot hear or understand what they are saying). Ensure that you visibly react to the interviewer’s comments and avoid verbal affirmations so there is no confusion or talking over each other. It can be tempting to act more casually due to the more relaxed environment but do your best to maintain an office-appropriate demeanor throughout the meeting providing the interviewer your full attention (no multi-tasking during the interview such as checking emails or typing). Finally, don’t forget to say thank you at the end of the interview and express your interest in meeting in person as the process moves forward.
Despite the evolving situation, lateral hiring remains strong. Engaging in a video conference will likely be part of your process for the near future so it is critical to get comfortable with the technology and format. While in-person meetings are ideal, always remember, a video conference is a great way to confidentially and safely find out more about the opportunity. Don’t hesitate to reach out with additional questions or in regard to opportunities in your region with anyone on our national team at Mestel!
Connect With Us!
Associates, Counsel, and Partners