How to Ace Your Video Interview — for Job Seekers

Ace Your Video Interview

More and more organizations are turning to the video interview today. They can be more practical than in-person job interviewing when travel is involved and the list of qualified candidates is long.

For job seekers, video interviews also allow for a personal and visual interaction with a potential boss without investing much time and money.

However, just because a video interview doesn’t take place in a traditional setting doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park. Robert Half Finance & Accounting recently surveyed more than 600 senior managers, who recounted awkward moments when interviewing applicants online for accounting and finance jobs. One described a job seeker who was eating breakfast during the video interview. Another said the interviewee was playing video games in the background.

Read more of these examples of video interview bloopers to avoid by visiting our media room and flipping through this SlideShare:

So what's a job seeker to do? Prepare. Here are our top five tips to make your next video interview a smash hit:

1. Treat a video interview as if it were in person

There’s no reason to approach a video interview differently than you would an in-person one. In fact, if you treat them the same, you may set yourself apart from other candidates who let their preparation slide because the interview is not in-person. So engage those interview skills, get a good night’s sleep and make sure you’re hydrated.

Set aside time beforehand to prepare and afterward to debrief. Research the company, its projects and the people who will interview you. Know how you’ll answer common interview questions, and what questions you’ll ask the interviewers. By treating a video interview like an in-person one, you will show the employer you take the job opportunity seriously.

2. Dress for the interview, from head to toe

Interview attire doesn’t change just because your meeting is virtual. It might be tempting to wear comfy jeans or yoga pants with your sharp blazer or blouse, but don’t do it. If you need to stand up, you’re toast. More importantly, dressing professionally from head to toe will help get you into the interview mindset. If you’re wearing slippers, you might be tempted to think about what you’re going to have for dinner or what’s on Netflix. If you’re wearing your office-appropriate loafers or heels, it will be easier to keep focused on what the employer is asking you.

3. Test your technology ahead of time

Just because you've used Skype with your friends doesn't mean you're ready for prime time. If you haven't used the video platform that will be used for the interview, download it well in advance. Make sure your camera and microphone work well.  

4. Create and check your interview space

Video interviews require a professional setting, even if they take place in your home. Make sure your interview space is well lit and welcoming, that you can sit comfortably, and that you won’t be interrupted by passersby, roommates, pets or family members. A private room with a closed door and no distractions is optimal. Before the interview starts, turn off your phones, tablets and television, and open a new browser window for the video interview. Close down Facebook, email and any other windows that might sound alerts or show on-screen notifications.  

5. Remember to say thank-you

Follow up after the video interview just as you would for an in-person one. Strong follow-ups are courteous, grateful, immediate and focused on thanking the employer for the job interview, reconfirming your interest in the position. This is a chance to add a personal touch to the interview process, so try referencing an enjoyable or insightful part of the interview.

Want to see more? Watch this: How to Get Ready for a Video Interview

Video interview advice for hiring managers

If you're an employer or manager looking for advice on video interviewing, Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, suggests that you follow many of the same tips. “Hiring managers can help the candidate feel at ease and show their company is a desirable place to work by conducting the interview from an uncluttered, noise-free setting, such as a conference room," he says. "And, just as with candidates, they should make sure they’re comfortable with the technology.”  

Read this post for more information on How to Make the Most of a Video Interview — for Managers.

This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated to reflect new information.