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How to maximise the first five minutes of a video interview

We’ve all heard it said that first impressions count and it’s especially true of job interviews. One third of bosses say they know within 90 seconds whether they will hire someone, so starting strong is a must.

From technical issues to what-to-wear, there are many things to be aware of at the beginning of a video interview. The first few moments can have such a decisive impact on how well the rest of the interview goes, we share four tips to maximise the first five minutes.

1. Prepare ahead of schedule

The last thing you want is for your interview to be disrupted with technical difficulties, it will reduce your chance of a creating a strong first impression and leave you feeling flustered for the duration. Minimise these issues by testing your video tool the day before your interview, on the day of your interview, ensure you are set up and ready to go at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time, in a quiet and comfortable place. 

2. Create a strong first impression

In the first few minutes of a video interview, you do not have the luxury of being able to offer a firm handshake or make eye contact with your interviewer, the best alternative is for you to smile confidently and appear interested and engaged. Being in an appropriate setting (quiet and free of distractions) is a must, clothes-wise, you should dress as you would as if you were physically going to the interview, even putting your shoes on if you’re at home can help you to get in the correct mindset. Try to match your dress style to that of the company you are meeting. If in doubt, always err on the formal side. 

3. Be ready for the small talk

Getting the small talk right (or wrong) can have big consequences. The brief time lag in a video call can make it challenging to build rapport so, as part of your interview preparation, it’s a good idea to think ahead to some likely topics that might come up. The key is to think of some topics where you have a shared interest (e.g. you studied at the same university or are a fan of the same sport) so that you are both able to ask and answer valuable questions and keep the conversation flowing smoothly. 

4. Be on message from the outset

Have two or three key points that you want to make about what you have to offer and what you are looking for. For example, ‘I’m ready for the challenge of managing a team’, ‘I combine compliance experience with technical expertise’, ‘In my career, I’ve developed an extensive digital transformation skill set’. These are the three key points that you want your interviewer to remember about you, try to work them in naturally whenever you can, even in the first few minutes.

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