- Remember to prepare as thoroughly as you would a traditional interview. Keep in mind that when technology is involved, plenty of things could go awry, so account for all the variables.
- Set yourself up against a completely blank background (one that doesn’t clash with your shirt). If you’re struggling to find a professional backdrop, try setting up a folding table near a neutral wall or corner.
- Take some time to figure out where to look during your video interview. Speak slowly and clearly to get your points across.
Currently job hunting and just got invited for a video interview? Congratulations! Remember to prepare as thoroughly as you would a traditional interview. Keep in mind that when technology is involved, plenty of things could go awry, so account for all the variables.
Make sure to prepare yourself and your technology ahead of time. This will help you go into your video interview feeling confident, which will most likely boost your performance. Take these seven steps to set yourself up for a successful video interview.
1. All Standard Rules Still Apply
Most important rule: just because you’re on video doesn’t mean you can slack off on your appearance! Dress one notch above what the company’s typical attire is. Put your work shoes on, it might seem strange to wear your shoes during a video interview, but it has an important psychological effect on you.
Don’t forget to wear solid colors, as stripes and complex patterns can look awful on video. And yes, wear your suit pants and not your comfy Hawaiian shorts with your collared shirt and suit jacket. You may not think the camera will see your legs, but if you need to get up for any reason during the interview, it will be awkward—to say the least.
2. Find a Neutral Background
Careful attention to your background is absolutely crucial! A bedroom with a sloppy bed, a home office full of clutter, a kitchen table … all of these connote information about you to the interviewer, none of it good. It’s not only unprofessional, but it also distracts the interviewer, who’ll be busy analyzing your dirty laundry instead of listening to what you have to say.
Set yourself up against a completely blank background (one that doesn’t clash with your shirt). If you’re struggling to find a professional backdrop, try setting up a folding table near a neutral wall or corner.
It should also go without saying that this is absolutely not the time for your favorite virtual background or any type of filter.
3. Master Your Lighting
Make sure your setup enhances your appearance, so check to see that you’re well lit, too.
Getting perfect lighting for a video interview can be very difficult in a home environment, but ideally you want to aim for the following:
- Get plenty of light overall so it doesn’t look like you’re cowering in the dark. But avoid so much light that it creates glare on any eyeglasses.
- Position two lights, if possible, at a diagonal in front of you, one a bit to your right, and one a bit to your left. Table lamps work fine.
- Use natural light where possible; if one of the above lights is a window, all the better. Avoid fluorescent bulbs or other “cool” light sources.
- Eliminate any direct backlighting (like a window behind you) and avoid light shining directly over your head (especially if you’re losing your hair).
4. Limit household Wi-Fi use during the interview
Depending on the strength of your internet, you may notice glitches in your connection if too many people are online at once. Depending on the app you’re using, some video interviews might require more bandwidth than audio calls.
To prevent your connection from pausing or freezing up, try to limit the number of people online during your call. If family members or roommates are using the same internet connection simultaneously, it’s going to bring down the quality of your interview.
5. Check the Time Zone
Double-checking the time zone of the meeting could be the difference between showing up on time or being three hours late! Given the number of times I’ve accidentally scheduled meetings for 7am in the morning, I can’t emphasize this enough.
Speaking of timeliness, the jury’s out on whether you should dial in early. While being the first person on the call makes you look like a go-getter, it can also be awkward if multiple interviewers are joining on the other end. Being early may not be a bad thing, but it’s more critical that you aren’t late.
6. Test Your Gear Prior to Interview
Don’t forget to sign up for an account on the service your interviewer is using and download the necessary software. Install a backup copy of the software on a second device (for example, install on both your phone and laptop) just in case one device fails.
Now draft a friend to help you through a test run on both devices to make sure audio and video are working, and that your lighting is as good as possible. Test your earbuds and keep a back-up pair within reach. The day of your video interview, test everything again. On many PCs, rebooting can reset your default camera and microphone, leaving your screen blank or your audio muted, wasting the interviewer’s time and making you flustered while you struggle to get everything fixed.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice
Take some time to figure out where to look during your video interview. Speak slowly and clearly to get your points across. Practice speaking and looking at the camera, instead of looking down at your resume or looking on your screen.
If your video interview is administered through prerecorded platforms, take advantage of the option to review and rerecord if necessary.
For live video interviews, leave time and space in between your answers and let the person on the other end of your call pick up the conversation and ask the next question or clarify what you said is a good idea. Practice can also help you know when to pause.
Finally, when you have finished your answer, sit back and say, ‘Does that make sense? Is there anything I can clarify for you?’ You have to leave a little bit of that buffer space, because for them, there might be a little bit of a delay, or they just aren’t sure if you’re done talking.