Video job interviews are an increasingly common part of the hiring process over recent months. These interviews can take several forms. If you have one coming up, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with all the variables so you can be prepared.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the types of video interviews, what you should wear, how to prepare your environment and helpful tips on body language and eye contact.
A video job interview can be similar to in-person or phone interviews. As a result, the following will also be useful to you as you prepare. This article will give you the essential tips you need to get rid of your nerves and turn up for your video interview confident and well prepared.
Some video interviews take place outside of the potential employer’s office. In this case, you’ll be responsible for finding a quiet location with a good internet connection and a computer or laptop with a webcam. You’ll need:
- An internet connection with bandwidth speed of at least 1 MB per second.
- A laptop or desktop computer with a webcam. In some cases, a tablet or smartphone may also be an option.
- Headphones with a built-in microphone or headphones and a separate microphone.
- A quiet, private and well-lit place where you won’t be interrupted by other people, pets or noises. Position your webcam so that you have a neutral background that’s free from distractions. Avoid coffee shops and other communal spaces.
A video interview is an interview conducted via video, rather than over the phone or in person. There are a few ways that this can be done, each with their own challenges.
There are two types of video interview: a regular face-to-face interview in real time via a video feed, or a pre-recorded interview where each candidate will be given the same set of questions with the same amount of time to respond. The candidate’s answers are recorded and watched back later.
All forms of video interview can be nerve-wracking, for many of the same reasons as other interviews, but also some unique ones. It can be harder to gauge body language and other conversational cues over the internet, for instance, which can make it feel a bit stiff and awkward. With pre-scripted interviews, there can also be a lot of pressure because you have a time limit in which to answer the question, and it’s not so much a conversation as a presentation.
Most interviews will be live, meaning that you might join a video conference from a link that the employer shares with you, or you might receive a call via Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams or another video conference provider. Once connected, you’ll be able to see and speak with an interviewer on the other end.
If you’re using a personal Skype or Google account, make sure that you have a professional username and check your privacy settings. If you have any concerns about whether your username is professional enough, you may want to set up a new account for your video interviews just in case.
If you are nervous about connectability, ask the employer for a test video call prior to the interview or connect early to ensure and have enough time to troubleshoot any issues.
There are times when an employer may use pre-recorded video interviews. In this format, the employer will give you instructions on how to join the interview. Instead of being connected with a person, you’ll be prompted to answer interview questions that have been pre-recorded or appear in writing on the screen.
You’ll record your answer to each question and the employer will review the recording later. There is often a time limit for your answers, and you may be given more than one chance to record each answer.
The pre-recorded format can feel unnatural to some people. Try to imagine that you are having a live conversation. Your preparation for the interview will be especially useful in this setting—be sure you have your answers at the ready.
Whether your video interview is live or pre-recorded, make sure that you have closed other apps or windows on your computer that could interrupt the conversation or slow the internet connection. Set your phone to silent before you begin the conference.
For pre-recorded interviews, make sure to read the instructions carefully before you record your interview. You should be told how long you’ll have to answer each question and what the time limit is on each recording, as well as if there’s an option to re-record your answers. I highly recommend not utilizing the re-recording tool. Re-recording often causes you to come off as robotic, rehearsed, or forced. None of these are desirable qualities in a job interview, nor do they help you stand out in a crowded field of candidates.
You can’t use notes in a face to face interview, so don’t use them in a video interview. There’s no way of using them discretely, no matter how hard you try. You’ll be seen glancing away on the video, which makes it very obvious to the hiring manager that you’re reading from something. The perception will be that you aren’t confident, aren’t prepared, or aren’t engaged – not the message you want to send.
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What to Wear for a Video Interview
You may be doing the interview from your living room, but don’t let yourself get too comfortable. Wear exactly what you would if the interview were in person. It’s tempting to wear a nice shirt paired with pajama pants, but doing that will negatively impact your performance. Research the organisational culture before your interview so you have a good idea of what’s appropriate. If you would normally wear a uniform to work, dress formally.
To look your best on camera, avoid bright colours and patterns and opt for softer colours instead. If you are wearing a tie, wear a solid colour rather than a patterned one. If you wear glasses, adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from the lenses.
Position the camera so that you are looking up slightly and centred on the screen. While it is likely that the interviewer will only see your upper half, it’s still a good idea to wear professional pants or a skirt in case you need to stand up for any reason.
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Video Interview Body Language
Eye contact is very important during an in-person interview, and you want to convey that same level of connection during a video interview. Avoid the instinct to look directly at your interviewer on the screen or yourself while you’re answering a question. Instead, when you speak, you want to direct your gaze at the webcam. When you do this, your eyes are more likely to align with the interviewer’s eyes on the other end. When you are listening, you can look back at the screen.
Throughout the interview, keep your mood upbeat and convey optimism with your body language. One way to achieve this is to have good posture. Sit in your chair with your back straight and your shoulders open. Feet can be planted on the floor and arms can rest in your lap or on the desk.
When you’re listening, nod and smile when appropriate to communicate that you’re giving them your full attention. Use hand gestures when it feels appropriate and keep your movements close to your body. Avoid fidgeting or letting your gaze drift away from the device.
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Practice and Set-up
To get used to the technology and the body language of a video interview, it’s useful to do some practice video calls with friends or family members. Ask them to give you candid feedback about your appearance and eye contact. Run through it a few times until things start to feel natural.
This practice can make all the difference in your interviews. Set aside time in your schedule in the weeks and days leading up to your interview—you’ll find your confidence growing as you become more comfortable in front of the camera.
On the day of your interview, review this checklist as you’re setting up:
- Ensure that you won’t be interrupted, either by locking the door or by alerting others that you can’t be disturbed (a note on the door of the room as well as the door to the outside may be helpful).
- Clear the desk space, except for a notepad and pen/pencil for you to take notes.
- Have a copy of your resume and any other notes ready for you to reference.
- Set out a glass or bottle of water for yourself.
- Check that your webcam is working.
- Check that your audio is working.
- Close any windows, tabs or applications on your computer that you’re not using.
- Check your internet connection and make sure you’re not downloading anything in the background.
- Set your phone to silent.
- Check that the background behind you is neutral and free from clutter.
- Adjust the lights in the room. If things appear dark or dim, you may want to bring in an extra desk lamp to brighten the space.
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If things go wrong
There’s always a chance things could go wrong. Here are some backup plans to have ready just in case:
- If your video or audio stops working
Before the interview, ask the interviewer for a phone number where you can reach them if you experience technical difficulties. If the video cuts out, call them at that number. Ask if you can continue the interview by phone or if you can reschedule.
- If noise interrupts the conversation
If noises (sirens, construction, etc.) interrupt your video interview, apologize for the interruption and ask for a few moments until the noise has subsided. You may want to mute the microphone if the noise is severe.
- If someone enters the room unexpectedly
If family members, housemates or pets enter the room while you’re interviewing, apologize to the interviewer, ask for a few moments, mute your microphone and turn off your camera, and then step away to deal with the interruption. Make sure that the room is secure before beginning the interview again.
As with any job interview, you should conclude by thanking the interviewer for their time. Send a follow-up thank you email later that day (or the next day if your interview was in the evening). This message may help build a stronger connection with your potential employer and help you progress to the next step.
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Video Interview Tips
- Find a quiet, private, well-lit place, free from possible interruptions.
- Ensure your internet connection is stable.
- Check that your computer’s audio is working.
- Test your computer’s webcam.
- Close any unnecessary web browser tabs and applications.
- Dress professionally and avoid bright colours.
- Have a pen, notepad and copy of your resume on your desk.
- When listening, nod and smile to show you are engaged.
- Use hand gestures when appropriate.
- Place your phone in silent mode.