Now that virtual interviews have become the norm in the face of COVID-19, situational awareness has become increasingly important in order for job seekers in the video game industry to make good online impressions. If you think virtual interviews are going to taper off after the pandemic, think again. Employers are saving time, money and expediting their interview processes while continuing to make key hires. Combine that with an unprecedented uptick in permanent remote positions being offered within the video game industry, it becomes clear that the virtual interview is here to stay. Below, DAM has outlined 4 things you can do to elevate your presence during the virtual interview – or at a bare minimum, prevent you from stumbling right of out the gate:
Treat It Just Like a Standard In-Person Interview
A completely different mental dynamic exists when you’re prepping for an in-person interview than it does when you click on a link and start a virtual interview from your home. There are certain unwritten rules built into the in-person interview which requires mental preparation, some additional grooming in most cases and quite certainly, something a little more spiffy than the pandemic PJs you’ve been wearing all year. Just like sports athletes have pre-game rituals, create your own routines for in-person interviews.
Another pitfall exists that job seekers in games should be wary of in the virtual interview environment. At DAM, we call it rapport leakage which is simply the amount of potential rapport that’s lost without the benefit of a face-to-face meeting. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to mitigate rapport leakage which are all things you’d normally do during an in-person interview:
- Maintain webcam eye-contact when speaking; or place the most important person’s video stream right beneath the webcam and maintain eye-contact with that person since their body language will likely be the most important
- Use the Do Not Disturb functionality on your smartphone and desktop autido notifications
- Remember the Lag… we’ve all experienced the irritating back and forth between two people on a video call that simultaneously start and stop talking 5 times before they figure it out. As eager as you may be to give your answer, let them finish, take a deep breath and then speak.
- Good lighting, good audio and good bandwidth – 60+ minutes of frustration as the hiring manager struggles to see and/or hear you usually results in the complete emptying your rapport building reserves
Familiarize Yourself With The Meeting Software
Common video conference solutions include Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Teams, etc. If you get a calendar invite with a link to video meeting software you don’t recognize, perform a couple of test calls before the main event. Fumbling around with technical issues is another sure-fire way to cause rapport leakage; but more damaging, is the fact that you’re being perceived as unprepared, disorganized and incapable of simple online collaboration – all of which, I can guarantee are considered among the basic soft skills for the job.
While similar, there are subtle differences among the software choices out there, especially when it comes to screenshares, default video and audio settings, online whiteboarding, and the mute button. No matter how remote the chance, you should be prepared to take the controls and run the meeting.
Have A Professional Username
Keeping your professional user/screen names separate from your personal is highly recommended. It’s a little hard to be taken seriously when “AzogTheDefiler” appears beneath your video stream. Although boring, “sarahholland31” won’t tip the scales in any direction. You can share your gamertags after you’ve accepted your offers and there are plenty of more effective conversation starters, rapport builders and opportunities for comic relief than username “EdgarAllenPoo”.
Have A Professional Background
For those with an aversion to housework, you’re going to have to suck it up while you’re interviewing. But it’s not really about a dirty pair of skivvies draped over the couch in the background, is it? No, of course not. It’s that you didn’t take the call seriously enough to spend a few minutes straightening up. Keep you backgrounds simple, clean, distraction-free and if possible, arranged in such a way that frames you in the shot properly. What a hiring manager is most interested in is whether or not you’re working in an environment that will allow you to focus on the tasks they’re assigning. If there’s a three ring circus going on behind you, it’s time to pack up the big top.
Don’t Give Away The Home Court Advantage
Think about all of the stressors you typically have to endure when a traditional in-person interview is requested. First off, you’ll need to make up an excuse to take time off of work. Then, you’ll either be fighting traffic to the studio if it’s local or fighting traffic to the airport. And there’s nothing like an airport to fill you with positive energy and mental acuity.
Virtual interviews give interviewees more control over the final stages of the interview process than they’ve ever had before. You’re on your home turf, in your comfort zone and stress-free with no planes, trains or automobiles to battle with. Don’t turn your home court advantage into a home court disadvantage by neglecting all of the potential snafus that are well within your control – audio, video, lighting, background, screen names and software proficiency.