“Your interview will be next week over Zoom”.
“All assessments will now move to MS Teams.”
“Look out for the WebEx invite to your board”.
Only 3 or 4 months ago these terms would have been a foreign language to most officers, but now as face to face boards have had to cease or slow due to Covid-19 restrictions, thousands of us are now needing to learn how to effectively interview using online platforms, as boards move toward the virtual.
And it’s not just the Police. According to an April 2020 Gartner survey, 86% of organizations are using new virtual technology to interview candidates. Wow! Who saw that coming?
Consequently, over the last few weeks I’ve been asked by numerous officers “How do I prepare for an online Board?
The short answer is – exactly the same way as you would for a face to face board!
However, I realise you may need more than that. So, here are some extra top tips for you to consider.
Use your real background
I’m not a big fan of the virtual backgrounds that are an option on many platforms. I recommend going down the more authentic route of showing the actual room where you’re speaking from, if it’s suitable. In my opinion, virtual backgrounds create distraction and a lack of authenticity.
What’s Behind You?
Following on from above, it’s obviously fine to be in your home but I believe you should try to present a neutral and a professional as possible background. You want to let the content, structure and delivery of your answers be the focus, not what’s going on behind you. Avoid the risk that your interviewer may be distracted by an inquisitive child, dog or cat, or that they have a negative reaction to any personal items on show, such as that half eaten box of donuts or dirty dishes. So, lock the door, let everyone in the house know that you need a quiet space, stick the dog outside and wash up!
Do as I say not as I do…
What To Wear?
Even though you’re conducting the interview from your home, remember you are being judged and assessed. Match your attire to what would be expected of you at a face to face interview. Have a read of another blog of ours that discusses unconscious bias, as this may be at play in this situation. But definitely wear trousers.
Lights Camera Action
Download any apps required well in advance and give them a test run before your interview. Although usually straight forward you definitely do not need the extra stress of waiting for these to download 10 mins before you interview.
Make sure that your Wi-Fi connection is as strong as possible. Close down all browser windows and stop any family members streaming or gaming for the duration of the interview, just to be sure the signal doesn’t drop or slow. Investing in a quality headset or microphone (and testing them) can ensure so there are no other tech issues during your call.
Also remember, if you’re struggling to hear the interviewer you must tell them. As we say at bselectedpolice – ‘be more normal’. They’ll probably be unaware you haven’t heard what they’ve been saying due to limited behavioural cues. It’s also worthwhile leaving a second or so after speaking as any delays between can result in both sides trying to talk simultaneously. If in doubt, take a pause.
Set up your camera at eye level to avoid any unflattering angles and place it a suitable distance from your body to include your torso and arms. This has been shown to help you influence a panel (as opposed to a massive head shot or one that focusses right up your nose!) And make sure the lighting is adequate. Your light source should come from in front of you, as opposed to behind you to stop unflattering (and distracting) shadows.
How Is Your NVC?
Just as in an in-person interview, you want to demonstrate through your voice and body language that you’re interested, engaged, and professional in demeanour and language. Make sure you smile and look like you are loving the opportunity to talk (even if you are not!). Have levity or intonation in your voice and try to come across as engaging and interesting (even if you are not!). Strong eye contact is key, so try not to look away or down at your notes all the time. The bselectedpolice Passion-O-Meter should be in full effect!
Remember the 7 P’s
Be fully prepared for your interview. All the hard work needs to have been done prior to the day. You will need to have prepared great answers for all of the competency questions you may be asked. Just like in real life. Have a friend role-play the interview and record your online meeting. You need to get used to talking confidently to camera. And remember, the most important rule is: Always Answer the Question!
As you would (hopefully) in real life, ‘arrive’ early to the video meeting so you can be admitted as soon as the board is ready.
In our opinion boards are just too hard to do on your own, whether virtual or face to face. With so much riding on the outcome, can you really afford to just wing the preparation?
To enable you to perform to the very best of your ability our expert coaching at bselectedpolice can help you smash your board. Give us a call and we will tell you how.