Research and insights professionals are in strong demand and while companies have always placed a high importance on soft skills, gauging potential hires on their communication style, demeanor, and presence can be more challenging given the virtual element of interviewing today.
With WFH and hybrid schedules allowing for more interview flexibility, it’s become more common for there to be multiple rounds of video interviews with a wide variety of team members instead of, for example, a one-day on-site to meet everyone at once. This is a trend we discussed last year, as virtual interviews were started to extend the hiring process specifically in the research & insights space.
So how can you put your best foot forward and make sure you’re prepared to make a strong impression as an insightful researcher over a series of video interviews? We wanted to share a few tips that we’ve put together from our experience coaching hundreds of researchers through an increasingly scrutinizing interview process!
Ten Tips to a Successful Video Interview
1. Make sure you have a professional username across all platforms
Just as you should make sure to use a professional email address for resumes and applications (usually some variation on your name works best), we recommend creating a separate username for video interviews as well. This has the added benefit of making sure no friends or family call and interrupt you during the interview! Since there are a plethora of platforms that companies use now (Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and more) make sure to verify the correct username once you know the designated interview platform or app.
2. Test your equipment and location in advance
Test your internet connection and any webcam or equipment to ensure it’s working properly, and make sure that the location you’ve chosen is quiet with no risk of interruptions. We recommend conducting the interview at home if possible (instead of a noisy Starbucks), and to make sure you can avoid interruptions from pets, roommates, children, etc. Find a spot with good lighting and make sure whatever device you’re using is fully charged (or plugged in) and has good wifi reception.
3. Dress professionally from head to toe
While most research & insights positions won’t require formal attire per se, we strongly advise you: do not wear pajama bottoms during a video interview! You never know when you might need to stand up to close a door, answer a phone, or grab a copy of a document, so make sure you’re properly dressed just in case. We recommend wearing whatever you’d plan to wear to an in-person interview.
4. Clear your computer screen and check your background
Some interviews may ask to see a presentation, an assignment, or another file from your device, or have another reason that you may need to share your screen with your interviewer. Make sure any irrelevant browser tabs have been closed and that there’s nothing on your desktop that you wouldn’t want your interviewer to see. Make sure to also check whatever will be in the background for the location where you’ll be conducting the video interview!
5. Practice, practice, practice
Ideally, set up a practice call with another person to give you a chance to test everything and work out any kinks, check your mic volume when talking, get feedback on your video presence, and make sure you’re familiar with the functionality of the platform, including how to share screens (see tip #4).
6. Be ready ahead of time on the day of the interview
Just like if you were going on-site, make sure you’re ready in advance on the day of your interview. Have any materials or assignments/presentations ready to go, and make sure you have double-checked your equipment and set up before logging on to get started.
7. Enunciate and speak louder than you normally might
Companies don’t just want to evaluate your prowess with specific methodologies and techniques, they often look for researchers who have outstanding storytelling skills and can clearly and succinctly explain findings and insights to external clients, senior leadership, or cross-functional teams within the organization. Some may evaluate this skill with presentations or assessments during the hiring process, but it’s also important to make sure you’re speaking clearly and deliberately during the rest of the interview as well, and that you’re asking insightful questions. And make sure that you look into the camera when you speak, so that you’re making eye contact!
8. Be cognizant of your movements
Too much fidgeting or exaggerated hand motions can sometimes appear extra pronounced and distracting on a webcam, or it may also cause shaking with the camera or feedback/sound distortion over the microphone. You don’t have to try to be completely still (after all, you want to be yourself!), but just be aware of how you appear on camera.
9. Follow-up with personalized thank-you emails
We recommend sending personalized emails to each person you spoke with relatively soon after the interview, just like you would if you met in person. Thank-you emails are a great way to recap the great conversation you had with your interviewer and re-affirm your interest in the position. For more tips on thank-you emails, including how to include additional research project information relevant to your interview conversations, check out this post.
10. Don’t forget all normal interview etiquette applies!
While you may not be able to shake anyone’s hand, you should make sure to treat a virtual interview just like a traditional in-person: do your homework on the company, be prepared to walk through your background and experience, supply specific examples of research projects you’ve done and show impact when possible, and have questions ready to go. Even though you’re meeting on video, let your personality shine through and be sure to show your excitement or enthusiasm about the particular company or role within the organization. Good luck interviewing!