Coaching Students for Video Interviews

Eric Holmes

As the undoubtedly most impactful societal moment of the 21st Century thus far, the COVID-19 outbreak is having and will continue to have an indelible impact on most parts of American life for the immediate future. People will continue for many months to avoid direct contact with others for fear of contracting the virus and while the economy is showing signs of significant unemployment, some industries are hiring and even growing and the recent change from on campus courses to online courses is an excellent opportunity for faculty to coach students on video interviewing.

Video interviewing, either live or recorded, has steadily grown in popularity in the last five years and is on the verge of displacing the in-person interview as the standard method of employment interviewing amidst this pandemic. Because of our access of high-quality learning management systems and video conferencing, faculty are in a unique position to coach students on video interviewing and to put those skills to the test in our class meetings and virtual office hours.

Aside from the foundational job interview skills concerning content that students already receive in the classroom and from their advisors and career counselors, faculty are well situated to coach students on how to effectively record or livestream themselves during job interviews. Here’s a list of best practices that faculty can share with students:

Strengthen the signal. Given that video interviews take place online, candidates need to reduce the use of their internet connection during the interview. All non-interview related devices (tablets, smartphones, etc.) need to be turned off or removed from the signal to clear the path for the best possible video and audio quality. Make sure that no one in the home is streaming any media, as that can greatly diminish signal strength — Netflix’s Tiger King can wait.

Test everything. In the hours before the interview, practice logging into the interview platform that is being used and check to see if any software needs to be downloaded or updated. The last thing that a candidate needs in the moments leading up to an interview is the stress of having to download or update software.

Play to your strengths. If given options about the choice of platform to use, candidates should choose a platform on the basis of familiarity and comfort level. These early decisions will make for less stress leading up to the interview.

Get everyone on board. Amidst this pandemic, sometimes, entire extended families are finding themselves under the same roof. The candidate’s interview is important and every member of the family needs to facilitate a successful interview, making the project a collaboration. This can include freeing up bandwidth (as previously mentioned), keeping children and pets quiet, and keeping their own loud noises to a minimum. As an instructor who holds live classes online, I regularly hear televisions, vacuum cleaners, barking dogs, crying children, and even side conversations in the background. I’ve even had students try to whisper in an effort not to wake up a napping family member. I accept all this because we are living in extraordinary times and we need to accommodate our students’ personal circumstances. None of that is, however, acceptable when a candidate is interviewing.

Set the stage. Aside from the standard expectation of dressing well during an interview, candidates need to prepare the space that they occupy that will be seen in camera. Lighting needs to be bright enough to see the candidate and even enough not to cast large shadows. Similarly, clutter needs to be removed and distractions in the background (such as a live television) avoided.

Turn off alerts, ringers, etc. Optimally, candidates will not have any extraneous devices nearby. However, if they cannot be moved or turned off, they need to be muted and all notifications need to be turned off. There are no distractions during a job interview that help the candidate and the various chimes, rings, beeps, and vibrations that accompany all of the computers in our lives need to be eliminated during that time.

Whether participating in live video chats or recorded messages, students using online video tools need to be trained on how to effectively broadcast themselves and then held to those standards in their online courses. This will prepare them for the video interviews that they are offered and give them much greater odds of success in a tough labor market.

Author Biography

Eric Holmes is a full-time faculty member at Purdue University Global. He has a MS degree from Portland State university. At Purdue Global, he is course lead for technical communication courses.

Recommended Citation: Eric Holmes. (2020). Coaching students for video interviews. the Western ABC Bulletin, 2.1.