Video interviews are becoming more and more common, especially for roles with remote working benefits. With employers able to look further afield geographically for candidates, video interviews make a lot of sense to reduce travelling costs and to save time.
The interview might be conducted with an interviewer speaking to you directly or there may be pre-recorded questions which you will need to respond to. Both formats will require some careful preparation and you’ll need to have the right equipment at your disposal.
While you might follow a similar process for preparing for the interview questions themselves as you would for a face-to-face interview, there are a few extra considerations when it comes to a video interview. You’ll also need to think about things like the environment you choose to have the interview in and about how you look and your body language on screen.
Here are some tips for impressing at your next video interview.
Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the interview so you can solve any technical issues well in advance. You might want to ask a friend or family member if they can practice with you on a video call to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Find a quiet place to do the interview where you won’t be disturbed. Let anyone who will be in the vicinity know about the interview and ask them not to disturb you or make too much noise while it’s happening. You may want to put a sign on the door to remind them not to come in. If you think there might be a problem with ambient noise, consider using a headset. Find a neutral background, free of any clutter, that won’t be distracting and make sure there’s enough light for the camera - natural light is best.
Make sure that you have a strong and reliable internet connection and that your webcam and microphone are working properly. If you’re going to be making a call on a laptop, it’s sometimes best to use a laptop stand or place your laptop on a pile of books so you’re level with the screen or looking up slightly. This will help you maintain a natural posture and stop you hunching over the screen. It will also provide a more flattering angle.
If the employer is calling through Skype or Zoom or a programme where you have a visible username, make sure this is a professional one. If it’s not, you might want to think about creating another account before sharing your details with the employer. If you haven’t used the software before, it’s a good idea to have a practice first and find out how to use it properly.
You should dress as you would if the interview was going to be conducted in-person. You may need to do a bit of research into the company to find out what is appropriate. You’ll also need to think about what will look good on camera. Generally, this means avoiding anything that’s too bright and patterned and go for more neutral colours instead. While it might be tempting to just dress up on your top half, you might need to stand up for some reason so make sure you’re wearing something appropriate on your bottom half too.
Interviewers will be looking out for things like body language on a video call and if you wear glasses, glare from lights can sometimes interfere with eye contact. You may need to adjust the lighting in the room to prevent this from happening.
One of the advantages of a video call over a phone call is that the interviewer and interviewee can see each other. Being able to see each other creates a deeper connection and you will be able to read each other’s non-verbal cues. This is very important in an interview when you are likely meeting a person for the first time and making a good impression is essential.
Making eye contact can be tricky on a video call because your instinct is to look at the image of the person on the screen. If you look into the camera while you speak, you’re more likely to be making eye contact with the interviewer on the other end. Some people find looking into the camera a little off putting when they’re trying to answer questions, so practice this and only do it in the actual interview if you are comfortable with it.
When listening to the interviewer, look back at the screen and make sure your body language shows that you’re engaged with what they’re saying. Maintain good posture, smile and nod when appropriate and avoid fidgeting.
Sometimes, an employer will use a pre-recorded interview format. This is especially common in the early rounds of interviews. You will be faced with a series of questions and will be asked to record an answer to each question. You may have a time limit in which to answer each question.
This format can feel a bit unnatural at first so preparation is key. The questions are likely to be more predictable than with a face-to-face interview as it won’t follow the natural progression of a conversation with your answers informing additional questions. The questions are likely to be quite general as they will probably be the same questions that other interview candidates will be asked.
This works in your favour if you take the time to prepare as you can craft answers to common interview questions in advance and, with practice, you should be able to deliver fluent, thoughtful answers on the day. When delivering your answers, it can sometimes feel a little awkward, so it can be useful to imagine you are speaking directly to someone at the other end.
Make sure you have a paper copy of your CV and the job description in front of you for reference. You don’t want to be switching tabs during the call. Also, have a pen and a notepad for taking notes. A glass of water is a good idea too.
Double-check that your camera and microphone are working and close all other applications on your computer that you won’t be using. You don’t want a notification pinging in from another programme that might distract you, or anything downloading in the background that could have an impact on your internet speed. Make sure that your phone is also on silent. You may also want to close any windows if there’s a busy street outside to avoid any interference with the sound.
When you’re relying on technology, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong. Make sure that you have a phone number to contact the interviewer on if your internet connection drops off or you have an issue with your microphone or camera. Apologise and ask them if they’d like to continue the interview on the phone or if you can reschedule.
Preparing for any job interview can be a nerve-wracking task and if you’re not keen on being in front of a camera, that can add to the pressure. If you follow the tips above and take the time to thoroughly prepare and check all of your equipment is working properly, you should be able to relax and make a great impression.