Your resume is a critical factor when it comes to getting an interview. A strong and polished one can go a long way with a potential employer. While you know you must include work experience and education, should you list other factors, like hobbies, so you stand among other candidates? (more…)
Just like every individual is unique, so is every resume.
From your years of experience to your specific skill sets, your resume is a unique representation of who you are, professionally (and to an extent, personally).
But there is one thing that all resumes should have in common: five standard resume sections and headers (whether you’re an experienced professional or just beginning your career).
Below we break down the following:
- 5 standard resume sections
- Additional resume sections
- The correct order of resume sections
And we also share actual resume header samples to help your resume stand out!
5 standard resume sections
The following resume sections are standard and should be included on any resume. They are also ATS friendly which increases your chances of getting your resume into the hands of a hiring manager:
- Contact Info
- Title and Branding Statement
“But what about my volunteer work? My awards?” you might ask. “Shouldn’t I include that information on my resume?”
The answer? It depends. Don’t worry, we’ll get to those additional resume sections. But first, let’s break down each standard section in detail and why they’re important to any resume.
1. Contact Info
Add your contact info to your resume to ensure that the hiring manager can easily get in touch with you.
Include the most important contact details at the top of your resume so it’s easy for the ATS or hiring manager to find.
Here’s the information you should include:
- Your professional full name
- Your current city and state
- One phone number
- Your professional email address (aka don’t use “firstname.lastname@example.org”)
- Your LinkedIn profile link
- Optional: Your professional website if you have a portfolio or other relevant information displayed
Keep this section sweet and simple. Just make sure that your contact details are up-to-date and you check your messages often. According to one report, 42% of recruiters said one of the biggest barriers to identifying qualified talent is that candidates don’t respond to calls and emails.
Hint: Be careful not to make the common resume mistake of sharing confidential information such as your gender or nationality.
2. Title & Branding Statement
You only have seven seconds to capture the hiring manager or recruiter’s attention with your resume and communicate who you are and what you’re good at. As such, your resume needs to be direct.
Craft a compelling title and two to three sentences that succinctly describe yourself, your results, and how you would add value to the company through your past experiences.
Think of this section as your resume’s executive summary or highlight reel of your professional experience.
Take the following example:
Results-driven leader with a demonstrated track record of increasing revenue, building high-performance sales teams, and engaging clients through consulting strategic planning. Approachable mentor who uses comprehensive experience in sales and operations management to support the success of the entire team, personally and professionally.
Notice how the sales leader here specifically outlines what he or she would bring to an employer. Take the same approach with your own resume branding statement.
If you’re just getting started with your career, cite your educational experience and what makes you a compelling candidate like this example:
REGULATORY AFFAIRS LEADER
Experienced health-care leader with extensive experience utilizing research, analysis, and innovation to promote patient/consumer well-being. Consistently leverage background in hospital and industry environments to promote continuous regulatory compliance and drug safety.
Hint: A resume objective and branding statements are not the same thing. Resume objectives tell employers what you’re looking for in a job instead of what you can offer them. We recommend sticking with the branding statements since it’s reader/company focused. You can read more about why we don’t recommend objective statements.
What have you accomplished at different jobs and how have you helped past companies succeed? Give hiring managers a comprehensive view of your experience in this essential resume section.
For each job, include the following information on your resume:
- The month/year you started and ended your work at the company (or “present” if you’re still employed by the company)
- The name of the company
- The city/state where you worked
- Your specific job title
- Your responsibilities and achievements
Use bullet points and action verbs to describe your responsibilities and achievements. Also, choose ones that apply closely to the job to which you’re applying. For example, maybe the job description specifically asks for someone who can lead weekly sales team meetings.
If you have the experience, list it:
Lead 10-member sales team meeting — $70M territory across California Coast. Client industries include oil & gas, chemicals, pulp & paper, and food & beverage.
Numbers and percentages are very persuasive so use them as much as possible to prove you deliver results. Here are a few more examples:
- Increased month-on-month organic blog traffic by 75% in less than 12 months.
- Lead accounting for 110-employee organization with $1.4B in annual revenue.
- Report directly to COO while managing a 15-person manufacturing team.
If you don’t have percentages or numbers to share, be descriptive with your responsibilities and the skills you developed at different jobs. This is especially important for recent graduates.
This resume section covers your academic background. Include the following information:
- Month/year you graduated
- Your university’s name
- Degree received, any specializations
- The city/state where your university is located
List your educational experience in chronological order. For example, if you graduated with your MBA in 2017, add it first and then put your Bachelor’s degree information.
Also, use this section to share special academic projects and your GPA if it was high. If you’re a new graduate, didn’t go to college, or haven’t graduated yet, list your high school, clubs, study abroad programs, etc.
This resume section is your opportunity to let the recruiter or hiring manager know your unique skill sets and core competencies.
List 5-15 skills, beginning with your strongest skills first. Here’s an example of a core competency section for a sales leader:
Corporate Account Management · Consultative Sales · Strategic Planning · Customer Relations · Client Retention · Sales & Operation Management · Technical Acumen · P&L Responsibility · Talent Development · Product Development · Supply Chain Management · Value-Based Business Solutions · Business Development
Also, make sure that the skills you list relate to the job to which you’re applying. Your expert piano playing skills, for example, shouldn’t be listed on a resume being submitted for a Marketing Manager position.
You can also divide this resume section into two. Maybe you’re applying for an IT position. Since this is a technical job, you could include a “Technical Skills” section that includes very specific IT skills.
Hint: Weave job description keywords throughout your resume, not just in one section, to help with an ATS scan.
Additional resume sections
There you have it. These are the five non-negotiable sections you should include on your resume.
However, there are optional ones that you can add. Extra resume sections really depend on the job to which you’re applying.
Say that you’re applying for an HR position that requires interacting with international applicants. Including a separate resume section for “Languages” that you speak would probably be appropriate.
Here are just a few examples of other optional resume sections:
Hobbies & Interests: Especially if you’re a recent graduate without much experience, this section can be beneficial for highlighting hobbies that relate to the job or company. If you’re applying for a marketing position, your interest in graphic design would be relevant.
Certifications: Use this section to show off your professional certifications from universities and industry groups. Maybe you’re applying for a teaching position. List your ESL certifications. Or maybe you’re applying to be a business manager. The Six Sigma certification would be appropriate to include.
Volunteer Work: Volunteer work such as helping at soup kitchens or running in charity marathons shows your willingness to help others. It also suggests you’re a team player. You can format this section exactly like your “Experience” section.
Awards: Were you the Sales Manager of the Year? Or did you win a Leadership Award in your industry? List official recognitions of your accomplishments such as from former companies, your university, and other organizations. These awards can help you stand out from other applicants.
Conferences & Training: Show employers that you are committed to continual learning by providing professional industry conferences and training courses you’ve attended.
Just ensure that you have enough information for any resume section you add. Also, be careful with optional sections. Make sure they’re really necessary and aren’t going to take valuable space and attention away from your “Experience” section.
The correct order of resume sections
At the end of the day, the right order for your resume sections depends on your level of experience and the job to which you’re applying.
However, here’s a good rule of thumb to follow with the structure (based on your experience level).
If you’re a recent graduate, you likely haven’t had many positions. In this case, highlight your education section before your experience. Showcase your academic background, university accomplishments, and related courses.
- Contact information
- Title/Branding Statement
- Core Competencies
- Optional sections
Hint: Your resume should be one page long as a beginner. Here’s a broad guide on appropriate resume lengths.
Professional & Executive:
As an experienced professional or someone with executive experience, highlight your relevant work experience first. Place your educational background next.
- Contact information
- Title/Branding Statement
- Core Competencies
- Optional sections
Hint: If you’re a newbie to the job market, include some of the optional resume sections at the bottom of your resume such as academic awards, volunteer work, and hobbies and interests.
Professional resume headers examples
What’s in a name? A lot, actually, when it comes to your resume headers. Not only do they orient the reader, but they can also make or break your chances of getting through an ATS scan.
Choose resume headers that clearly communicate your resume information. Leave creativity at the door.
For example, “My Academic Career” might sound compelling as a header, but it can quickly confuse an ATS scanner. In this case, “Education” would be the best header option.
Check out these professional ATS-friendly header examples:
- Core Competencies
- Professional Associations
- Awards & Honors
- Volunteer Work
When in doubt, follow the KISS acronym with your resume headers: “Keep it simple, Sally.”
Add these resume sections and headers to your own resume
How you present information on your resume directly impacts whether or not you get asked to interview. Make your resume stand out with these resume sections and headers.
Need additional help? ResumeSpice is here to help. Our team of experts will work with you to create a powerful resume, optimized to pass ATS screeners. Please contact us today to learn about our services!
Writing your resume is a challenge. There are so many pieces and parts and only so much space to fit it all in.
One particular area many candidates find particularly daunting is the Work Experience section. It’s no wonder. This is the most important section and the one hiring managers will look to first to see if you’re a fit for their job opening. (more…)
A well-written resume can take hours to create and polish.
So it’s understandably discouraging when the document you spent hours crafting doesn’t make it past the dreaded applicant tracking system (ATS).
An ATS is software that’s used by hiring teams to help them collect, scan, and rank submitted resumes.
Luckily, there are ways to beat the bots – and design a resume that performs well on an ATS scan.
Below we’re going to outline how applicant tracking systems actually work, present an ATS friendly template, and share nine ATS resume tips to create a resume that will increase your chances of getting to the next step in the hiring process!
What is an applicant tracking system (ATS)?
As you can imagine, large companies receive thousands of applications every month. An ATS can significantly speed up the overall recruitment process by reducing the amount of required manual (i.e., human) review required.
How does an ATS work?
Consider an ATS to be a type of gatekeeper for hiring managers. It ranks candidates by most to least qualified and shows the hiring team who might be the best fit for the job.
If a resume is formatted correctly and includes the right keywords – and passes the ATS screening – it’s typically then reviewed by a human decision-maker. These elements are essential to get right to ensure that you make it past this first screening step.
ATS resume template for Word
Check out this free 2021 Word resume template optimized specifically for ATS scans. Designed for all types of experience levels — from beginner to experienced — this template is easy to download and add in your details.
How to create an ATS friendly resume
Customize the above template by following these nine tips.
1. Don’t get fancy with your resume.
There are times when glitz and glam are appropriate in the business world. Your resume is not one of those times.
Fancy templates with different fonts and graphics are difficult for ATS’s to interpret. Your information gets scrambled in the system and never even makes it to the hiring manager. Create a straightforward resume that’s easy for an ATS to scan.
One way to do this is to order your information chronologically (i.e. organize experience from most recent to oldest). Avoid fancy graphics, italics, and underlining. Also avoid unique fonts. Instead, go with common fonts like Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial and a standard 11 point font size.
It might hurt if you’re the creative type, but trust us; an ATS isn’t grading you on creativity.
2. Include standard headings
Write section headings that an applicant tracking system can easily understand and organize.
Think of an ATS as being an older, traditional recruiter who has 30 years of experience under their belt. Creative headers like “Why I’m the Perfect Fit” or “Where I Graduated” aren’t going to resonate. It actually confuses the system.
Here are standard resume headings that are recognized by ATS software:
- Work Experience
- Volunteer Work
You can also refer back to the ATS friendly resume template for standard section headings. Another tip? Don’t combine certain resume sections together as an ATS might not be able to properly organize the information.
3. Optimize your resume for keywords
The right keywords are the bread and butter for your resume. An ATS scans for keywords that match with the job description. Include exact keywords that show an ATS that you’re qualified for the job.
To do this, scroll through the job description and make a list of the keywords. Say that you’re looking at a job description for a marketing manager position. Keywords might include:
- Marketing Campaign
- Sales and Marketing
- Social Media
- Customer Relationship Management
- Public Relations
- Adobe Photoshop
Include these keywords 2-3 times throughout your resume.
Also, keywords like “go-getter” and “hard worker” aren’t going to cut it for an ATS (or a hiring manager for that matter). Use specific keywords that are on the job description rather than vague buzzwords.
4. Customize your resume to match the job description
A company programs an ATS to score resumes by specific criteria. Your resume needs to match the criteria set in a specific job description as closely as possible to make it to the next level.
Maybe the job description says you need to have two years of experience with SEO. A qualifying question in the ATS might then be, “How many years of SEO experience do you have?”
If you say “one year of experience,” the system will likely automatically reject or lower your score since you don’t meet the criteria. Tailor your resume to the job description as much as you can (without making anything up) to help your resume get through the ATS scan.
5. Remove tables, columns, headers, and footers
In a regular Word document, elements such as tables and columns make everything easier to read. In a resume, however, these elements cause significant problems for ATS software as it can’t comprehend the format.
Your resume’s original organization can also be scrambled by the software, causing your information to not make any sense. Instead of these elements, use standard circle bullet points to present your experience and skills.
6. Make your contact info easy for the software to find
A common mistake with resumes is placing contact info in the header or footer of the design. This makes it difficult for ATS software to identify the information.
Place contact information such as your name, phone number and email address front and center, at the top of the resume, but don’t include it in a header.
7. Spell out degrees and abbreviations
While abbreviations and acronyms are helpful to make your resume succinct, ATS software isn’t always programmed to recognize the info.
Here’s an easy fix. For example, if you earned an MBA, spell out “Masters of Business Administration” but then include “MBA” in parentheses. No matter what keyword the ATS or recruiter uses, your info should pop up.
Hint: As much as you may want to show off your qualifications, don’t place titles after your name in the contact info. The ATS can garble the content. Instead, weave the info into the body of your resume as keywords.
8. Proofread for formatting mistakes
Don’t let your resume get stopped by ATS software because of silly formatting mistakes. Watch out specifically for extra spaces between words.
For example, say that you include the keyword “content marketing” in your resume. If there’s an extra space between the words “content marketing,” an ATS won’t recognize the keyword. Carefully go back through your resume before submitting and check for extra spaces.
Another resume problem? Incorrect date formatting. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with the MM/YYYY format (although spelling out the month and numerically presenting the year such as “June 2018” can work as well).
9. Send your resume as a Word doc
How have you submitted your resume in the past? 43% of resumes are submitted in an incompatible file type. Surprisingly, PDF can be an incompatible file type for many ATS systems.
Unless the application platform specifically says that you can submit a PDF file, submit your resume as a Word document (docx. or doc.).
Hint: Since some ATS systems show the resume file name to the hiring manager, create a professional resume title such as with your first and last name. Ex. katiejohnson.docx.
Use these ATS resume tips and template to pass the ATS test
An ATS scan doesn’t have to mean a death sentence for your resume. By optimizing for keywords and using an ATS-friendly format, your resume has a better chance of passing an ATS test and reaching the hiring manager.
An airtight way to ensure your resume passes the ATS test is to work with a resume writing service. ResumeSpice is here to help. Our team of experts will work with you to create a powerful resume, optimized to pass ATS screeners. Please contact us today to learn about our services!
You’ve just successfully submitted your application for your dream job. Congrats! Your potential employer now wants you to complete a…pre-employment personality test?
While the thought of a test assessing your personality can be intimidating, it’s really just another way for the potential employer to see if you’d excel in the position.
These tests go beyond your skillset and experience to show what makes you tick, both personally and professionally.
Learn more about pre-employment personality tests below and how to approach the most common types on the market.
What is a pre-employment personality test?
A pre-employment personality test is a tool that potential employers use to assess candidates’ character traits and behaviors to help determine if they’d be a good fit for the job.
Personality tests look at things like your communication style, motivators, and work preferences. For employers, they provide a better understanding of the job applicant pool so they can reduce employee turnover (and costs!), and offer more consistency in hiring.
Below are six of the most common types of personality tests, including how you can best prepare for each type.
6 types of personality tests in the workplace
What it is: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a 93-question, self-awareness test that assesses respondents according to four categories or eight tendencies:
- Introversion or extroversion
- Sensing or intuition
- Thinking or feeling
- Judging or perceiving
Each MBTI question comes with two choice statements where you can answer A or B.
The test looks at which tendencies your personality leans more toward (e.g. you’re more introverted than extroverted) to give you a 4-letter personality type such as INFP or ESTJ. There are 16 personality types in all.
MBTI explainer video
Used by more than 88% of Fortune 500 companies, the test is designed to assess your innate personality type preferences and help the employer better understand how you operate.
How to prepare: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator isn’t your traditional personality test. It tells a potential employer how you’ll fit in with the company team, but isn’t an appropriate indicator if you’re the best fit for the position.
And since there are no right or wrong types, employers can’t use it to compare you with someone else. As such, it’s difficult to prepare for the test. You can, however, become more familiar with the psychological categories so you can better understand your results:
- Extraversion or Introversion (E or I)
- Sensing or Intuition (S or N)
- Thinking or Feeling (T or F)
- Judging or Perceiving (J or P)
Your final personality type tells a good deal about your work style such as how you approach problems, deal with stress, make decisions, and more.
What it is: The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment is an untimed, free-choice hiring test that helps predict on-the-job success. The test is more than 60 years old and is EFPA-certified.
Here’s how it works: You receive two lists of adjectives. Under the first list, you’ll select words that describe how you believe others expect you to act. Under the second list, you’ll select words that describe how you view yourself.
Adjectives are related to four characteristics (or key behavioral drives) that determine workplace behavior: dominance, extraversion, patience, and formality. At the end of the test, you’ll receive a Reference Profile (there are 17 Reference Profiles in all) that reflects how you approach the world.
How to prepare: The PI Assessment takes between 10-15 minutes to complete. The end result tells a lot about your personality and how you respond to certain situations.
Each list comes with 86 adjectives. To help the employer better understand your personality and top characteristics, choose between 20-50 adjectives in each list (hint: don’t choose all 86 as this won’t tell your potential employer anything about you). Adjectives include things like “unbiased,” “friendly,” “forceful,” and “respectable.”
To prepare for the assessment, it also helps to understand the four primary characteristics that the assessment analyzes:
- Dominance. This characteristic (also known as A drive) shows how much you try to control your environment.
- Extraversion. The characteristic (aka B drive) measures how social you are and how much you try to control your environment.
- Patience. This is known as the C drive which measures how much you seek consistency and stability.
- Formality. This characteristic (aka D drive) measures how much you seek to conform to formal rules and structure.
If you want to score low on dominance, you’d select adjectives that show you’re agreeable and accommodating. If you want to score high on patience, you’d choose adjectives related to stability.
Based on your answers, your Reference Profile might show that you’re analytical and fall under being an analyzer or controller. Or it might show that you’re social and act as a captain or maybe a collaborator.
There are no right or wrong answers here, but the assessment does provide interesting personality insights!
What it is: This personal assessment tool analyzes your personality according to four personality traits or DISC factors. It’s used to understand your ability to work with a team and your professional behavior style.
Used by a wide range of organizations including government agencies and Fortune 500 companies, the DiSC assessment can be completed online and includes 12-30 questions. Choose between adjectives or phrases that you relate to the most and the least.
DiSC factors include:
- Dominant (D)
- Influential (I)
- Steady (S)
- Compliant (C)
These factors show employers how you respond to conflict, how you work with teammates if you’re a leader and more. You’ll receive a personality profile at the end of the assessment that shows where you “fit” into the four main personality reference points.
How to prepare: This temperament assessment is about 80 questions long and takes 15-30 minutes to complete. It’s designed to show your strengths based on the DiSc factors.
Since the DiSC assessment is not technically a test, it’s not something you can really prepare for. However, it is helpful to understand what each DisC factor means and how each relates to specific positions:
- Dominant. This factor means that you exhibit dominant tendencies and are focused on results and problem-solving.
- Influential. This factor suggests that you are more open and focus on relationships.
- Steady. S personalities mean that you are dependable and are a collaborative team player.
- Compliant. This factor means that you are focused on things like quality, accuracy, and competency.
Similar to the PI Behavioral Assessment, these factors tell you a lot about your personality and how well you’ll fit in a certain position.
For example, if you lean more toward D (Dominant), you might be better suited for an executive position or an entrepreneurial role. If you lean more toward C (Compliant), an engineer, analyst, or content marketing position could be a good fit, as you prioritize quality and are detail-oriented.
What it is: The Caliper Profile is an objective assessment that measures 22 character traits to predict on-the-job behaviors and potential.
Based on both cognitive and behavioral aspects of your personality, the assessment includes a mix of true/false questions, multiple-choice, and statements. For example, with the Caliper Profile statements, choose answers that reflect you the most or least.
Sample statements include things like “I am an effective negotiator” and “I always plan my expenses in advance.”
Once you’ve completed the test, your results are measured against one or more validated job models. The assessment analyzes you by 56 competencies and has 52 job models.
How to prepare: The Caliper Profile test includes 98 questions. There’s no time limit, but it normally takes about an hour to complete.
To successfully pass the Caliper Profile, become familiar with the types of questions on the test. One large part of the test measures your ability to solve cognitive problems such as recognizing patterns and selecting the next number in a series (some of these questions can be tough).
Take practice tests online and identify any areas where you struggle. Pay extra attention to cognitive questions, but practice answering all types of questions. Get a good night’s sleep before the test and don’t overthink it.
And know that you can’t fail the test. It’s designed to help the employer discover if you’re a match for the job!
What it is: Also known as OPQ32, the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire describes an individual’s preferred or typical behavioral style. It helps an employer decide if your personality will suit the job.
The questionnaire assesses 32 work-related dimensions which are grouped into three categories:
- Relationship with People. Influence, Sociability, and Empathy.
- Thinking Style and Feelings. Analysis, Creativity and Change, and Structure.
- Emotions. Emotion and Dynamism.
Each question includes four statements or adjectives to choose from. Here’s an example of what these statements might look like:
- I really like to help others.
- I work best in teams.
- I like to get things exactly right.
- I sustain high levels of energy.
You’d then select which statement is more or least like you. Results are measured on a consistency scale.
How to prepare: The questionnaire includes 104 questions and takes about 25 minutes to complete. The best way to prepare for the OPQ32 is to simply practice. Take practice tests and become familiar with the types of statements that are listed within the questionnaire.
As with the other tests, you can’t fail, but it does help to build your confidence and understand your preliminary results by preparing.
Employers can choose a custom report once you complete the questionnaire and see how you stack up against other applicants.
6. The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)
What it is: The Hogan Personality Inventory describes “bright-side personality – qualities that describe how we relate to others when we are at our best.” The test tells employers how well you will fit with the job and how you will act in different circumstances.
It’s based on the Five-Factor Model of Personality. This model features a hierarchical organization of personality traits based on five basic dimensions:
- Openness to Experience.
Based on these dimensions, the HPI is made up of seven primary scales, six occupational scales, and 42 subscales. Scales include things like “Adjustment,” “Prudence,” and “Ambition.”
How to prepare: The HPI includes 206 true/false questions and takes between 15- to 20-minutes to complete. Here are a few sample questions where you would answer either true or false:
- I love spending time with other people.
- If a friend comes to me looking for help, I do all I can to assist.
- I often feel stressed.
- I find a routine stifling.
- I work very hard toward my goals.
Use practice tests to review sample questions and understand what the results mean for you.
For example, if you score high on Ambition, this suggests that you are a self-starter, but might be overly competitive. If you score low on Sociability, you might be good at working alone, but might not be as apt to speak in public.
Be honest on your pre-employment personality test
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. – Bruce Lee
This quote is absolutely true, but it can feel a bit daunting to completely be yourself on any of these pre-employment personality tests.
But if you base answers on what you think the employer will want to hear, the job probably isn’t going to be the best fit over the long term. Honesty really is the best approach.
If you’re looking to make a career change, ResumeSpice is here to help. We offer premium career coaching, resume writing, and cover letter services, LinkedIn profile writing, and more. Please contact us today to learn about our services!
These days, interviewing virtually is becoming the norm. However, a Zoom call feels far different than an in-person interview. You still have to make the best impression, all while stressing about the potential for technical glitches, where to look on the screen, and whether a noisy neighbor will distract you.
No one is happy every day in their jobs. Everyone has seasons of high stress and too many demands. However, if this has become the “normal” in your life and you’re ready for a change in your career, how can you make the switch? Here are some tips to help you. (more…)
Getting ready for a video interview for your dream job?
Video interviews have become increasingly commonplace in the hiring process. In fact, video technology is being used by at least 60% of hiring managers and recruiters.
While it may be a different format from a traditional face-to-face meeting, it pays to be just as prepared for a video interview (hint: sweatpants not recommended)!
Check out our 9 top video interview tips to help you successfully complete your next video interview, as well as bonus tips for a one-way (recorded) interview!
1. Find a professional video interview background
Locate a quiet, professional-looking space to complete your interview. The background should be uncluttered and distraction-free. Consider a neutral-colored wall or clean home office space.
Can’t find a professional background? If you’re completing your call via Zoom, the platform offers the virtual background option. Update your Zoom settings to use the feature. Zoom offers a selection of virtual backgrounds, but you can also upload your own pics such as of a nice office or conference room (consider downloading from Pexels or Unsplash).
Photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash
The Blur tool is another helpful feature that Zoom recently rolled out. Have a messy office space? This feature allows you to blur your real-life background which creates a perfect, distraction-free image. Learn how to use the feature here.
2. Pay attention to lighting for the video interview
Often overlooked, the proper lighting is essential for a video interview to help interviewers clearly see you. Ensure that you have a light source in front of you, rather than behind (this creates shadows across your face).
Natural lighting coming in from a window is ideal. However, placing lamps in front of you can also work, as long as the light isn’t glaring. Avoid overhead lighting.
Test the lighting before the interview. Consider purchasing a ring light, as this creates even lighting across the face.
3. Remove any distractions before the interview
Distractions during a video call can’t be helped sometimes, especially as more and more people work from home. But try to reduce the possibilities of distractions as much as possible. Common distractions include
- The sound of pets barking or meowing.
- Your phone or doorbell rings.
- Someone starts talking.
- Kids walking in front of the screen like this classic example.
Ensure that your pets or kids are in a different room or have a friend or family member look after them. Let any occupants in your living or workspace know what time you’ll be interviewing.
Turn your phone and other electronic devices off or on silent. As a final precaution, place a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your front and office door.
Hint: If someone does interrupt your interview and creates a scene, apologize to the interviewer and ask for a moment. Quickly take care of the situation and ensure the room is quiet again before resuming.
4. Practice your video interview introduction
An online video interview introduction is different from an in-person interview as you can’t, for example, shake hands with the interviewer.
But a strong interview introduction is essential to make a good first impression. To stand out, practice looking directly at the camera to simulate eye contact. This helps create a connection.
Also, take your cue from the interviewer. Let them lead the process to avoid speaking over or interrupting the interviewer. If they indicate they want you to provide a formal introduction, greet them. “Hello! My name is ——. Nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to interview me. How are you today?”
Next, be prepared with a personal summary if an interviewer throws the “Can you tell us about yourself?” question your way. Briefly highlight job history and skills and experience that relate to the position (hint: hard numbers are very persuasive in an intro such as “I closed 75% of my deals from 2018-2020”).
Be able to succinctly summarize what it is you do, why you’re good at it, and how the results have helped former companies. It helps to write this info down.
The first few minutes in your interview are critical so make sure you have a strong opening.
5. Prepare for common video interview questions
No two interviews are alike, BUT there are certain standard interview questions. Develop your responses to these questions before the interview so you’re not fumbling. Here are 15 of the most common interview questions:
- How did you find out about the position?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What interests you about this job?
- Have you used our product/service?
- How would you improve our product/service?
- What’s your greatest strength?
- What’s your greatest weakness?
- What salary range are you looking for?
- What would you do in the first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job?
- What professional achievement are you most proud of?
- What would former co-workers say about working with you?
- Where do you see your career in three to five years?
- Why should we hire you?
- Do you have any questions for us?
You’ll also likely get asked a few behavioral-based questions, such as “Tell me about a time when you (fill in the blank).”
Print out your resume and have a list of talking points related to these questions. Pull in specific examples, as well as quantifiable evidence that proves your success if you can. And have a list of your own questions to ask the interviewer. Here are our top picks.
Also, be thorough with your research on the company. Read the company blog and news articles. Check out their culture on sites like Glassdoor. Look at the interviewer on LinkedIn. This helps you perfectly understand what the company is looking for.
Finally, practice what you’re going to say in the interview. Practice helps you feel less nervous and also creates a smooth presentation. Ask a friend or family member to create a “mock interview” and provide feedback on your responses. Record this interview so you can go back and see what areas you need to work on.
6. Troubleshoot your video conferencing technology in advance
Waiting until the last minute to test your video camera and sound can actually make you more nervous. You also risk running into technical issues.
Experiment with your equipment at least 30-minutes to an hour before the interview to ensure that everything works properly.
On your laptop or tablet (hint: avoid using a smartphone if you can), click the video link that the interviewer sent you. If it’s a link that requires the host to sign in first, use your own Zoom or Skype account to test the microphone and picture quality. Complete a quick test trial with a friend or family member (use a link other than the interview one).
Ensure that the laptop or tablet is stationary and that your upper half is in the middle of the camera’s frame. Set the camera at eye level. If you need to, use a stack of books to prop up your device.
To create good audio, use a pair of headphones. Also, make sure that your laptop or tablet is fully charged and that you have a strong WiFi connection.
7. Dress professionally
Wondering what to wear for your video interview? Formal interview attire isn’t as rigid as it used to be, but you still want to make a good impression with how you look on camera.
As such, dress from head-to-toe in professional attire such as a nice blazer or collared shirt and dress pants. Put on a pair of nice shoes. Avoid wearing sweatpants. Even if the interviewer can’t see your lower half, you actually increase your confidence by being fully dressed!
Also, don’t wear flashy colors or stripes. Test how your outfit looks on camera and send pics to family members or friends. Dangling jewelry should also be avoided as it can distract the interviewer.
Hint: As a confidence booster, put on your favorite perfume or cologne before the interview.
8. Be conscious of your eye contact, body language, and voice projection
A video call can often feel impersonal as it lacks the connection and energy that comes with in-person meetings. That’s why you have to fully demonstrate positive body language and verbal enthusiasm via the camera. Here’s how to be mindful of how you look and sound to the interviewer.
First, show up early to the interview (e.g. 5 minutes). Sit up straight in your seat and don’t slouch. Maintain eye contact by looking at your computer or tablet’s webcam. Engage the interviewer by smiling and using your voice to sound energetic.
Physically nod at the interviewer’s questions. Use your hands if appropriate. Don’t get distracted by looking down at your phone or out the window. Be 100% present and show that you are interested in the interview and position.
Another tip to build trust? Mirror the interviewer. This means that you reflect their tone of voice, their word choice, and body language. More on mirroring here.
Hint: Still nervous? Place a glass of water on your table or desk. If you’re unsure about an answer to a question, pause, take a quick sip of water, reflect, and then respond.
9. Thank the interviewer(s) for their time
At the end of the interview, express your appreciation for the opportunity. Also, send a thank you email within 24 hours of your meeting.
According to research, 57% of job candidates don’t send thank-you notes after an interview. This is despite the fact that 85% of hiring managers, executives and HR professionals say that a candidate’s follow-up after an interview makes a positive difference.
Stand out from the crowd by taking the time to send a personal thank you note. Here are a few tips to nail the interview follow-up:
- Write a clear subject line such as “Following-up after our interview”
- Personalize the email based on your conversation.
- Carefully edit your message before sending and run through a grammar check.
- Adapt the email if you’re sending to multiple interviewers.
Learn more about how to write a stellar thank you email here.
One-way video interview? Check out these recorded video interview tips.
Some interviewers require that you complete and submit a pre-recorded or one-way interview before moving to the next round of interviews.
These interviews aren’t live. Instead, they are completed asynchronously. Job candidates record themselves answering a set of questions. The hiring manager can then review these answers later.
You can use many of the same tips as above to successfully complete a recorded video interview. Limit distractions and turn your phone on silent. Dress professionally. Make eye contact with the camera. Project confidence with your body language.
Here are a few additional ways to prep for a one-way interview:
- Follow the hiring manager’s video instructions carefully.
- Meet the set video deadline that the hiring manager provided.
- Prepare responses for questions just as you would a regular interview.
- Practice and record your answers to review and see what you can improve.
- Pay attention to the time limit so you don’t rush at the end of a response.
Though it might feel unnatural at first, treat a one-way video interview like a conversation and pretend that you’re live.
Follow these video interview tips to ace your interview
Completing a video interview can be just as nerve-wracking as a face-to-face meeting. But by carefully creating an optimal interview space and preparing beforehand, you can stand out as a quality candidate to the potential employer!
It also pays to get extra help with your interview prep. ResumeSpice offers in-depth interview preparation services that help you take your interviewing skills to the next level. These services include a 30-minute phone, Zoom, Skype, or in-person consultation with one of our interview experts. Please contact us today to learn more!
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