Video Interview Tips: A Job Candidate’s Checklist
Many of the changes the pandemic brought to the way we work seem likely to stick around, some perhaps permanently. Remote work and virtual recruiting are among them, which means your next job interview may happen via video.
Whether you're an old hand with years of traditional interviewing experience or this is your first time in the job market, a video interview doesn’t have to be a stressor. Yes, there are distinct nuances you need to understand. But along with some practice and the right mindset, following these tips on how to prepare for a video interview can help you shine as easily as you would in a face-to-face interview.
Below are eight video job interview tips that can help you advance to the next round.
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Test your technology
A few days before your interview, do a technology test run to make sure your equipment is working correctly. Download any apps or plugins you’ll need. Whether you’re using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another video platform, make sure you have a username that’s professional, just as you would with your email address or social media handle. This is a detail that has famously gotten a few people into trouble, but it's an easy mistake to avoid.
Check to make sure your computer’s camera, microphone and internet connection are working. Do a trial run with a friend or family member, if possible, so you have ample time to adjust if your equipment or software isn’t working properly.
2. Charge it up
If you’re using a laptop or tablet, make sure it’s fully charged on the day of the interview. And pick a spot that has strong Wi-Fi. If you’re using a tablet, find a way to keep it stationary. Otherwise, the screen may appear shaky if you’re holding the device. Avoid using a smartphone for video interviews if at all possible.
3. Dress for success
Dress as you would for an in-person interview — from head to toe. Doing so will make you feel more confident. Don’t try the old newscaster trick of wearing a blazer with sweatpants assuming you’ll only be seen from the waist up (you never know). Also, avoid wearing bright, flashy colors, and choose something that looks neatly pressed while you’re sitting down. Wear your video interview outfit during your trial run so you can get feedback from your friend or family member about how it looks onscreen.
4. Set the stage for a distraction-free video interview
Choose a location that’s free from the distractions of children, roommates or pets. Hang a sign on the door asking mail carriers and package deliverers not to ring the doorbell.
Make sure the background is free from clutter and embarrassing items like laundry piles. Set up lighting that’s bright but not glaring, illuminating your face from the front. Natural light is best.
Turn off email, text and social media alerts, software updates and other notifications that may pop up on the screen during the interview. Turn off programs that might interfere with the webcam, and close browser tabs.
5. Be a well-prepared early bird
Before you join the interview, make sure you don’t have any filters on that might make you look like a cat or anything other than yourself, and that you don’t have an unprofessional-looking virtual background on.
When the time for your interview approaches, log in five or 10 minutes early so you can be calm and centered when the video interview begins. Have your resume handy, along with the job description and any speaking points you want to hit or notes you’ve taken about the company or position. You won’t want to read directly from them, but having everything right there can take away some stress.
Expect to field some common interview questions, including:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What's your expected salary?
6. Maintain good eye contact and body language
It’s easier for your eyes to wander when the person you’re talking to isn’t in the room. Maintain virtual eye contact by looking directly into the camera instead of at the screen or at your own photo. Make sure your face is centered and try not to move around too much. Keep good posture, sitting with your back straight, feet on the ground and arms resting in your lap or on the desk.
7. Project and pause
Project your voice. Check your volume controls and speak clearly so the microphone picks up your voice and the interviewer doesn’t have to strain to hear you. And remember that digital connections can sometimes be delayed. To avoid talking over the interviewer or having your first few words cut out, let the interviewer finish the question and then pause for a couple seconds before delivering your answer.
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8. End the video interview with appreciation
Just as you would with any interview, thank the interviewer for the opportunity, and follow up with a post-interview thank-you note within 24 hours. In your note, briefly reinforce why you’re interested in the job and why you’d be a great match for the role and company. Include something that you and the employer discussed while getting to know each other that’ll make the thank-you message more personal. Establishing that kind of rapport with the hiring manager, especially after the video interview, can make all the difference in advancing to the next round.
And now, a virtual word from Paul McDonald, Robert Half senior executive director.