Screen Time: How to Nail Your Next Video Interview

Illustration of a video interview being conducted.

Video job interviews are becoming more common each year. Make sure you’re prepared to get in front of the camera by following these seven video interview tips.

If you’ve never been asked to participate in a video interview for a job opening, there’s a good chance you will be soon. That’s because video interviews save time and money for both a business and its job candidates.

Even if you’re a tech-savvy Gen Y or Gen Zer, you should prepare as thoroughly for video interviews as you would in-person interviews. Conversely, if you have years of traditional interviewing experience under your belt, don’t get too anxious about video interviews or view them as scary. Here are seven video interview tips that will help job seekers of any generation shine.

Top video interview tips

1. Get technical 

A few days before the interview, enlist a friend to help you make sure your equipment is working correctly and you know how to use it. Download any apps and plugins you’ll need. Turn off email alerts, software updates and other notifications that may distract you or show up on the screen during the interview. And establish a backup plan with the interviewer ahead of time in case you have trouble connecting or get disconnected. You’ll be more at ease during the interview if you do a technical trial run.

2. Charge it up 

On the day of the interview, make sure your laptop or tablet is fully charged. 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, or you may have to set it down to reference notes or jot something down.

3. Dress for success 

Dress as you would for an in-person interview from head to toe. Don’t try the old newscaster trick of wearing a blazer with sweatpants assuming you’ll only be seen from the waist up. Also, avoid wearing harsh colors and choose something that looks neat while you’re sitting down. Wear your interview outfit during your trial run so you can get feedback from a friend or family member about how it looks on screen.

4. Handle yourself professionally 

Whether you’re using Skype or another video platform, make sure you have a user name that’s professional, just as you would with your email address or social media handle.

5. Set the stage 

Choose a location that’s free from the distractions of children, roommates or pets. (And don’t even think of doing a video interview from a coffee shop.) 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.

6. Maintain eye contact during the video interview

It’s easier for your eyes to wander when the person you’re talking to isn’t in the room. Maintain eye contact by looking directly into the camera instead of at the screen or at your own photo. Also, be sure to speak clearly so the microphone picks up your voice and the interviewer doesn’t have to strain to hear you.

7. Hit pause 

Digital connections can be delayed. To avoid talking over your interviewer or having your first few words cut out, let the interviewer finish the question and then pause for a few seconds before delivering your answer.

If you take the time to prepare your answers and follow these video interview tips, you’ll be more likely to make a great impression and hopefully score the job — or at least a second interview.

Land an in-person meeting? Read our advice on effectively preparing for an interview now!

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