Smile for the Camera: 5 Essential Tips to Ace a Video Interview

By Robert Half October 13, 2014 at 7:00am

As the accounting and finance industry becomes increasingly global, it makes sense that employers are conducting more and more video interviews with job candidates. While meeting your potential boss on camera is more personal than talking on the phone, it’s still not the same as shaking hands in person.

Video interviews come with a unique set of challenges that require special preparation. Here are five video interview tips that may help you land your next job:

1. Dress to impress (from head to toe)

Dress as you would for an on-site visit. Don’t assume you’ll only be seen from the waist up. “I can wear sweatpants!” should not be your first reaction when you’re asked to do a video interview. Yes, in most cases when dressing for a video interview, it works out fine. But if you end up having to stand during your video interview for any reason, you’ll wish you’d opted for dress pants instead of the Star Wars pajamas. Also, be mindful that loud colors like red and orange can be overwhelming on screen, so choose cool tones like gray or dark blue.

2. Consider the background and lighting

Choose a simple background for your video interview. Cluttered bookshelves filled with knickknacks can be distracting, so consider hanging a curtain in a solid, muted color behind you. Also, check the lighting well before your interview to make sure your face is easy to see. Avoid setting up your computer too close to a window, if possible. The lighting might be perfect at the start of the interview, but as the sun’s position changes, you could find yourself dealing with an unwanted glare.

3. Make it a distraction-free zone

Pretend that your potential employer is coming to your home to conduct the interview. How would you prepare? For starters, you probably wouldn’t have the TV blaring in the background, nor would you bring them into a room where loud children or pets could wander through. Turn your phone to silent, close your windows to reduce street noise and check for other potential distractions, like noisy air conditioners. Keep any important documents close at hand to avoid getting up and leaving the interviewer staring at a blank screen.

4. Check your tech

Do a trial run at least 24 hours before the interview, so you have ample time to adjust if any of your equipment or software isn’t working properly. Consider recording a practice video session with a family member or friend.

5. Look at the camera

If you’re using an external camera, angle it so you’re face-to-face; you don’t want to be staring up or down at the interviewer. And remember to make “eye contact.” That means looking into the camera when you’re speaking, not at the person’s image on your screen.

Watch the video below for even more video interview tips.


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