Senior Execs: Seven questions to consider for your next video interview
April 24, 2020

Many will be surprised by the level of ongoing recruitment during Covid-19 lockdown. Businesses are continuing to plan ahead and are actively thinking about the senior skill-sets they need to strengthen their teams.

At the senior and executive level, this means that some candidates will be facing their first ever video interview. No matter how senior you are, being on the other side of the table, having to sell yourself is daunting – never mind the added complication of doing it from home, on a VC and having to watch yourself back.

There is no shortage of advice on the practical aspects of how to perform your best during a video interview. This recent Fast Company article provides a good summary of the key points. It’s unlikely that any of it will be a revelation.

If you are being interviewed for a senior role in the coming weeks, your preparation should cover how your management and leadership style can continue to be effective in an age of virtual team working. This will require special consideration if you haven’t previously experienced leading a team with remote workers, particularly deliberating how you would approach the human challenges people face working from home.

This is of course in addition to all of the other knowledge, experience, skills and aptitudes that you would be expected to demonstrate for the senior position in question.

How could you demonstrate your ability to motivate and lead teams, ensure productivity and high-quality results, on time and on target, within the context of the business and the role that you are being interviewed for? What does ‘well-being’ actually mean for your, and what can you do to improve this throughout the crisis?

Anticipate that it might be difficult to establish rapport – you’re on video, talking from a home office. It won’t be the same as being in a room with someone.

Don’t be thrown off if your dog barks when the post drops, if your toddler comes bounding in and won’t be ignored, if your children start throwing things at each other and you need to stop a world war erupting (all anecdotes from recent interviews I’ve been involved in). It is now normal and acceptable to show your human side. Often these incidents help to break the ice and bring warmth to a virtual connection.

I remind candidates not to get completely caught up in their technical expertise and to show their personality. They need to find a way to connect. Our current situation has helped to break down professional barriers as we are all in this together.

Focus instead on some of the ways that you could bring your experience, knowledge, skills and expertise to add value at this time, and given your team will be working from home.

Share stories and insights about some of the approaches that you’ve taken – including where some have had unanticipated results. This will demonstrate adaptability, resilience and an openness to learn.

Thinking about the role that you are being interviewed for, how would you:

  1. Build trust, rapport and authority with your new team, creating team spirit while physical meetings and events are off the agenda?
  2. Develop strategies for team-based innovation, problem-solving and creativity?
  3. Ensure continuous employee assessment and career progression for individuals as well as for the team overall?
  4. Ensure team participation and that remote working has no negative impact on diversity and inclusion, addressing the emergence of side-bar groups or cliques that could undermine the team’s ability to deliver?
  5. Monitor the team’s health and well-being and address any emerging issues resulting from working from home?
  6. Take advantage of the opportunities presented by working from home to strengthen and add new potential to your team, developing members for example, by encouraging groups to think outside of typical reporting lines?
  7. Handle systems risk and compliance within your department or discipline?

Illustrating each factor with practical examples from your own experience of leading virtual teams will help to bring the interview to life.

Make sure you prepare interview questions that reflect the current situation and the reality that this may be the new normal for quite some time, if not forever.

Ensure you ask questions about company culture, values, the brand and team working styles, as these will be much harder to discern if you can’t physically attend an interview within an office and observe future co-workers in their natural environment.

Ask how the organisation is planning to handle on-boarding and induction processes during this unusual time, and if they have processes in place to address these.

Be mindful of the needs of the interviewer/s and show appreciation for the challenges inherent in the process, especially as they may be finding it difficult to adjust to this new way of working.

When you follow up, ensure you get feedback on your video interviewing style. How did you come across? What sort of professional image did you portray?

As with anything, practice brings improvement. Expect your video interviewing style to evolve over time. And above all, enjoy the process.

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