Expert Interview Tips for Nailing Your Video Job Interview

According to a recent survey, 86% of companies are using video interviews in their hiring process.  Job candidates should prepare for a video interview the way they would for any interview – with some important additions.  Here is a checklist for what to do in the days before your video job interview to set yourself up for success:

  • Consistent internet is key.  Audio that keeps dropping or video that repeatedly freezes will make it almost impossible for you to deliver your messages successfully. Choose a location with consistent internet, usually close to the router or modem. If you share internet with others, ask if they can avoid streaming anything during your interview, as that can affect your internet connection. 
  • Check your background- everything they see is part of the impression you will make. It’s OK to be in your bedroom, as long as what they see in that bedroom reflects the professional image you want to present. Your background should be neat, organized and free of anything that might be controversial. You would not discuss religion, politics or sex in your interview – leave those subjects out of your video background as well.
  • It is important to keep your face out of shadows during your interview, so check the light in the room you will be using at the time of day of your interview.  In general, avoid light sources behind you or to the side.  The ideal light source is shining onto you from behind the camera.
  • Do a practice run – check that you know how to connect, test your microphone and speaker.  Your screen name may be your email, or some other name you have given your device. Rename your screen, if necessary, to your full name.
  • Figure out your best placement in the screen. You want to position yourself in the middle of the frame so that if you move around a bit, you will not cut off any part of your face. And experiment with standing up during your interview – people naturally communicate more energy when they are standing rather than sitting. 
  • Use notes sparingly, if at all.  Your interviewers are practiced at distinguishing an authentic response from one that is being read off of notes.  If you must use a few notes, limit them to one- or two-word bullet points.  Place them in front of you, not off to the side.  Glancing down is less obvious than glancing off to the side.

On the day of your interview, follow these guidelines:

  • Dress as you would for an in-person interview.  Resist the temptation to go casual on the bottom. You want to dress for the part and communicate that you are 100% professional, even though you may be in your home.
  • Limit potential distractions.  Turn off all other devices.  Put the device you are using into “Do Not Disturb” mode so incoming emails, texts or notifications will not pop up during your interview.  Close all unnecessary windows and tabs.
  • Ask others in your home for their support during your interview by helping keep distractions at bay. If there is a potential unavoidable distraction – the potential for your dog to bark, for example – tell your interviewers at the start.  Being proactive demonstrates professionalism.
  • Have any documents they may ask for – resume, samples, etc. – accessible on your desktop and ready to share.
  • Show up to the video conference 5 -10 minutes early.  They may not let you in early, but they will be notified that you were there early. 
  • Do not interrupt. Use smiles and nods to be an active listener.  Avoid making sounds when other people are talking, even sounds of agreement, as your noise could cut off their sound.
  • Take notes visibly.  I recommend using a pad and pen rather than using a screen.  Typing on a screen often appears as a long, unexplained pause to your interviewer.  Tell them that you are taking a note, or looking something up, if they cannot visibly see what you are doing.

Employers try to assess many things during the job interview: your expertise, the relevance of your previous experience and the level of your job-specific skills and abilities.  In a video interview, employers also have an opportunity to assess your adaptability to a new interview environment.  Prepare thoroughly using the tips above, and handle the unexpected professionally. 

Check out my other interview tips here: