The pandemic and improvements in technology have moved many things online over the past few years, including job interviews. The need for social distancing, coupled with the spike in remote work, means that it’s more important than ever to hone your video interview skills.
Below are some essential video interview tips to help ensure you ace your next interview.
The Rise in Video Interviews and Why You Need to Be Prepared
Before we jump into the job interview tips, let’s discuss why you need to be prepared for a virtual interview.
One survey from Jobvite found that 86% of companies utilized virtual interviews during the pandemic. In the same survey, 61% of companies said the hiring process would likely be a combination of virtual and in-person going forward. In contrast, 22% said they plan the interview process to be completely virtual.
The ease and convenience of the virtual interview process means that this format is likely here to stay.
Another factor impacting the increase in online interviews is the desire for remote work. Many people discovered that they like working from home (or wherever they want). Many companies also realized that working from home didn’t result in a huge dropoff in productivity.
All of this is to say your next job interview has a high chance of being online, so why not be prepared?
How is a Video Interview Different Than an In-Person Interview?
While the idea of doing a video job interview may seem intimidating, at the core, they are still very similar to in-person interviews. You’ll still be able to see each other, make connections, and ask and answer questions. You’ll need to present yourself well and prepare the same way you would for an in-person interview.
There are, however, some key differences. Technology can either work for you or against you, and your environment becomes much more critical. You might find it more challenging to make connections through a screen.
It’s also important to know that there are two kinds of virtual interviews: live and pre-recorded. Live interviews are like in-person ones, only they are held via a program like Zoom or Skype. In contrast, prerecorded video interviews allow for the opportunity to redo or even edit your responses.
The Benefits of Video Interviews
As we (hopefully) move into a post-pandemic world, there are many great reasons to continue the trend of video interviews for both employers and potential employees.
For employers, some of the benefits include:
- Easier to schedule
- Expands the candidate pool
- Saves money
- Reduces time-to-fill positions
- Ability to record and review interviews
Some of the benefits for potential employees include:
- Expands the available jobs
- Saves money
- Saves time
- More inclusive (people with unique challenges or a disability can interview where they are most comfortable)
- Eliminates some of the in-person interview stress
20 Video Interview Tips to Rock Your Next Job Interview
These video interview tips focus on live virtual interviews, but many apply to pre-recorded and phone interviews, too.
1. Prepare as You Normally Would
A video interview is still an interview. You’ll need to prepare in much the same way you would for an in-person one. One exception is that you don’t have to worry about getting to the interview location.
You’ll still want to research the company and role you’re interviewing for, be prepared to answer common interview questions and any specific to your industry, and have a few questions for the interviewer.
If there are other things you’d typically do to get ready for an interview, do those too. Keep your same routine and preparation because only the delivery is different.
2. Practice Ahead of Time
Participating in mock interviews or practicing answering questions with family and friends is one of the best ways to prepare for an interview. However, for virtual interviews, it’s a good idea to have the other person jump on a Zoom video call from another room or location and practice virtually.
They can give you feedback about your pacing, tone, volume, background, and placement on the screen so that you can make adjustments before the real thing.
3. Dress Up
We’ve all seen those commercials and videos poking fun at people inadvertently showing off their underwear or pajama bottoms in a virtual meeting. Don’t be that person!
As with a face-to-face interview, it’s essential to dress for success. Make sure you dress professionally, both top and bottom, and that you’ve done all the same grooming you usually would. That means hair, makeup, shaving, accessories, and anything else you would do if interviewing in person.
Not only will you avoid any potentially embarrassing mishaps, but the act of getting fully dressed and ready will have a mental influence, and you’re likely to take things more seriously. It can be easy to lose focus when in the comfort of our own homes.
4. Set Up an Interview Space
One significant difference between a video interview and an in-person one is that the burden of setting up the physical environment shifts from the interviewer to the interviewee, and you want to make sure you make a good impression.
While not everyone has a dedicated home office, it’s vital to set up your physical space the best you can to portray yourself as a professional with the necessary qualifications for the job. If you can, place your computer so that the background contains bookshelves, art, or other items that you might see in an office or business setting. Remove clutter or distracting decorations and overly personal items, or use a virtual background. If nothing else, place yourself in front of a blank wall.
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that the space is quiet. If you live with pets or others, remove yourself from them to reduce distractions.
5. Test Your Technology Beforehand
It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the technology you’ll be using beforehand and ensure everything is working before your interview starts. Technical difficulties are notorious, and you don’t want them potentially affecting an important interview.
Do a trial run and practice using the platform or interviewing software beforehand so that you can navigate and utilize the features with ease.
6. Ensure Good Lighting
Lighting is crucial during a video interview. You want to make sure everything is visible and that you don’t appear too dark or too bright on the screen.
Natural light is the best source for video interviews, and you’ll want to ensure that the light source comes from behind your computer or phone and not behind you. If you don’t have a good natural light source, consider investing in a selfie ring light to help you get the optimal lighting.
7. Position Yourself Properly
When doing in-person interviews, we naturally position ourselves at a comfortable distance, but it can be difficult to know where to place ourselves during a video interview.
Just like you wouldn’t want to be a few inches or 20 feet away from an interviewer, you don’t want to be too far away or too close to your screen. Ideally, you’ll want to sit so that your head and upper torso are visible with some space on the screen above your head. You’ll also want to be centered on the screen.
Practicing with a friend or family member can help determine the ideal position distance from your screen.
8. Limit Glare
Glare can be a massive issue during a video interview, potentially causing irritation and distraction to your interviewer. Especially if you wear glasses, watches, or jewelry, glare can become a factor.
Thus, it’s important to test out your accessories beforehand and see if glare is an issue. While you likely can’t remove your glasses, consider eliminating unnecessary accessories that produce glare. You can also try moving or adjusting your light source, moving yourself or your computer, and adjusting the screen angle so that everything looks good.
Make sure to test for glare around the same time of day as your interview to make any necessary adjustments beforehand.
9. Pay Attention to Sound, Too
While a video interview focuses on the look, paying attention to the sound is essential. You’ll want to test how you sound, including your pace, tone, and volume. You’ll also want to speak clearly to compensate for any lag or other tech issues.
10. Minimize Interruptions
Life happens, and the chances of life happening are much higher when you’re at home. However, it’s important to minimize interruptions as much as possible during the interview.
Try to ensure that kids and pets are taken care of and in a separate part of your home. Also, check your environment and neighborhood for things that may be going on that could cause distractions, such as construction or nearby home renovations.
If there is a high likelihood of being interrupted, mention it to the hiring manager at the beginning of the interview, so it’s not a surprise. This forethought shows the interviewer that you’re prepared and proactive. How you handle interruptions also demonstrates how you react to unexpected moments and stress.
11. Be On Screen Early
Showing up late for a job interview is a bad first impression that you don’t want to make. Be sure to log in and be ready to go before the scheduled interview time.
Test your computer and internet connection before the interview, and make sure to jump on 10-15 minutes early to ensure everything is working correctly. If a problem arises, you can troubleshoot and hopefully resolve the issue before the interviewer arrives.
12. Connect With a Digital Handshake
First impressions are crucial for establishing a connection with a potential employer. The gut feeling an interviewer gets in the first few seconds can make or break your interview, even if you nail the rest of it.
Although it’s impossible to do a literal handshake during a video interview, make sure you create a connection through a “digital handshake.” This means looking right into the camera, smiling, introducing yourself, and thanking the interviewer for the opportunity. Adding a nod or other gesture can also help forge that initial connection.
13. Check Your Posture
You wouldn’t slouch in a chair during an in-person interview, and the same applies to a virtual one. Good posture involves sitting up straight and keeping your hands in your lap when not using them.
Avoid crossing your arms, putting your hands behind your head, or resting your head on your hands. These gestures are considered informal and won’t help the impression you give.
14. Pause Before Speaking
It’s much easier for a conversation to flow in person. There is no lag time or fuzzy connections. When doing a video interview, it’s important to pause after the interviewer finishes speaking to ensure you’ve heard everything before replying. You don’t want to rush into your answers and appear as if you’re interrupting them.
15. Communicate What You’re Doing
While an interviewer can see you in a video interview, they don’t get the complete picture like they would in person. Therefore, it’s important to communicate things you’re doing that the interviewer may not be able to see.
For example, if you’re taking notes or something happens off-screen that grabs your attention for a moment, be sure to communicate that so the interviewer doesn’t perceive you as inattentive or unfocused.
16. Utilize Nonverbal Language
Nonverbal language is a significant part of our communication as humans. We make eye contact and use gestures, body language, small vocalizations, and facial expressions to help us communicate our feelings and ideas.
During video interviews, a huge chunk of our nonverbal repertoire is cut off, so it’s vital to utilize the nonverbal language we do have: facial expressions and head movements. It’s really easy to become static over video chat, especially when listening. Make sure you smile and nod to acknowledge points or express agreement. Try not to sit still for too long, so the interviewer knows you’re still engaged.
17. Look at the Camera When Speaking
We tend to look at the faces on screen when on a video call. However, looking at the screen means that our eyes appear to be focused slightly away from the other person.
Although you’ll want to look at the face of the interviewer while they’re speaking, when it’s your turn, look straight into the camera to give the appearance of making eye contact. While this may feel unnatural, a little practice beforehand and feedback from a partner will make it much easier to execute during the actual interview.
A smile is your most important physical feature and is insanely important when connecting with another person. A smile lets you show off some of your interpersonal skills and lets your interviewer know that you’re happy, engaged, and excited to be there with them. It’ll also help establish rapport.
Smile as often as is appropriate to make a more favorable impression, especially when first meeting the interviewer.
19. Have Some Questions Prepared
It’s typical for interviewers to ask if you have any questions. If you don’t prepare ahead of time, it can be challenging to come up with something on the spot.
Asking questions demonstrates to the interviewer that you’re interested, have done your research, and can provide helpful insight into the wants and needs of an employer.
Remember, an interview is a two-way street. This is your opportunity to get to know the culture and company better. Asking questions helps you assess your fit for the position and whether it will be good for you. There’s no point in striving to get a new job that doesn’t align with your skills or needs. Be sure to ask open-ended questions that give the interviewer a chance to provide a thoughtful response.
Examples of some things you might ask about include:
- How they see your work or position contributing to the company
- The strength and weaknesses of the organization
- The management style, structure, or culture of the company
- Professional development opportunities
- Opportunities for advancement
20. Thank Them for Their Time
As the interview comes to a close and you’ve got answers to all your questions, you’ll want to wrap up by thanking the interviewer for their time. We all value time, and acknowledging the time and effort it takes to conduct an interview will be appreciated.
If you haven’t already, mention the best way to be contacted after the interview and how excited you are to get started in the position.
Being interviewed can be stressful, especially when you’re pressed for money or interviewing for your dream job. While nothing can completely take the stress away, preparing is the best way to combat nerves, and practice makes things infinitely easier.
The transition from in-person to video interviews has eliminated some stressors and added new ones. These video interview tips will help you be as prepared as possible.
Now, go out and rock your next interview!
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.