How to ace a video interview

Video interviews are an important part of the hiring process and are becoming more popular. Understanding the specific requirements of a video interview can make you more comfortable and successful with the entire process. In this article, we explain what a video interview is, how to prepare for a video interview and how to deal with any potential problems that might occur.

What is a video interview?

A video interview takes place outside an employer’s office. You and the interviewer conduct the interview by using your phone or computer and video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom or even FaceTime. An employer may use pre-recorded video interviews. Instead of being connected with a person, you will answer interview questions that have been pre-recorded or appear in writing on the screen. You’ll record your answer to each question and the employer will review the recording later. There is often a time limit for your answers, and you may be given more than one chance to record each answer.

How to prepare for a video interview

Here are some steps that you can take to ensure your video interview runs smoothly:

1. Choose a suitable location

It’s important to choose a quiet and suitable location for your video interview. You want your interviewer to focus on you, so find a place that has minimal distractions. Choose a wall with a neutral background, preferably without pictures or art behind you. Make sure you are well lit either by natural light or a nearby light source. Set up your camera so the upper third of your body is clearly visible to the interviewer.

It is extremely important that your location has a reliable internet connection. If you are worried about the internet speed in your home, you can see if your local public library has a private room you can reserve. However, it’s important to avoid coffee shops and other communal spaces, even if they have superior internet.

2. Minimise interruptions

You want to do everything in your power to minimise or eliminate interruptions. Again, you want the interviewer to focus on your answers, and having a quiet and professional video setup shows your professionalism and seriousness about the job. Silence your phone, turn off your tv, stop any alarms that might go off and silence any other computer programs. If you live with other people, make sure they are aware of your interview and remind them to keep the noise level down.

Also, think about the time of day your interview is taking place. If the interview is scheduled around the time the post comes and it causes your neighbour’s dog to bark, address this before the interview. Some noises may be unavoidable, but if you tell your interviewer upfront, it will be less of a distraction.

3. Dress professionally

For your video interview, dress in the same professional way you would at an in-person interview. Research the company culture before your interview, so you have a good idea of what’s appropriate. To look your best on camera, avoid bright colours and patterns, and opt for softer colours instead. If you are wearing a tie, wear a solid colour rather than a patterned one. If you wear glasses, adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from the lenses.

Position the camera so that you are looking up slightly and centred on the screen. While it’s likely that the interviewer will only see your upper half, it’s still a good idea to wear professional trousers or a skirt in case you need to stand up for any reason.

4. Study your body language

You need to study and be aware of your body language before a video interview. Sometimes a video interview can feel more informal, and this mindset may negatively affect your posture. Sit in your chair with your back straight and your shoulders open. Plant your feet on the floor and rest your arms in your lap or on the desk.

Eye contact is very important during an in-person interview. To maintain eye contact during a video interview, avoid the instinct to look directly at your interviewer on the screen while you’re answering a question. Instead, when you speak, you want to direct your gaze at the webcam. When you do this, your eyes are more likely to align with the interviewer’s eyes on the other end. When you’re listening, you can look back at the screen.

Also, whilst listening, nod and smile when appropriate to communicate that you’re giving them your full attention. Use hand gestures when it feels appropriate and keep your movements close to your body. Avoid fidgeting or letting your gaze drift away from the device.

5. Review your tech setup

Review and ensure all your technology is working before the interview. First, ensure you understand the software that is being utilised for the interview. Some video conferencing programs require you to create an account before you can use the software. Make sure you have an account and that you update your software before the interview begins. You then want to check your hardware. Test your computer or phone’s camera and audio. If you plan on wearing headphones during the interview, make sure they are compatible with the software you are using.

Right before your interview, check your internet connection and sign into the meeting. Just like an in-person meeting, it’s a sign of professionalism to be a little early to the interview. Test your sound and video and ensure everything is in working order.

6. Do a practice call

The best way to familiarise yourself with the technology you’ll be using is to have a practice call with a friend or family member. Using the software that your interviewer will use, ask a friend to give you candid feedback about your appearance and eye contact. Run through it a few times until things feel natural. This is the time to adjust your lighting, find the best camera angles and ensure your microphone picks up your voice.

You can also practice for the actual interview. Have your friend ask you a few potential interview questions. It helps to rehearse your answers as you become more comfortable with the format. You can even record your answers so you can watch yourself and see what you need to adjust.

Top Tips on succeeding in a video interview

Here are some tips that can help you succeed in a video interview:

Be honest

Be honest with your interviewer about how you feel regarding video interviews. Although video interviews are becoming more common, not everyone has a lot of experience with them. If this is your first video interview and you are feeling a little nervous, tell your interviewer. It may spark some interesting small talk at the beginning of the interview.

You should also be honest about your interview circumstances. If you know there may be potential disruptions or your internet connection is weak, be upfront about it. Your interviewer will appreciate your honesty and both of you can prepare for any potential problems.

Prepare for the unexpected

You should prepare for unexpected problems during your interview. Despite all your preparations, your technology may have problems on the day of the interview. If you feel like you may have technical problems, ask the interviewer for a phone number where you can reach them if you experience technical difficulties. If the video cuts out, call them on that number. Ask if you can continue the interview by phone or if you can reschedule.

You should also prepare for potential interruptions where you are having the interview. If an unexpected noise occurs, apologise for the interruption and ask for a few moments until the noise has subsided. Mute the microphone if the noise is severe. If a housemate or pet enters the room while you’re interviewing, apologise to the interviewer, mute your microphone and turn off your camera, then deal with the interruption.

Have a pen and paper ready

You should have a pen, paper and some prepared notes during your interview. Having a copy of your CV can also be helpful, as you can refer to it when you are talking about specific examples from your previous work experience. Write important points that you want to bring up in the interview and questions you may have for the interviewer. Keep your notes out of the camera view and try not to rely on them too much. You can reference them now and then, but if you constantly look down at your notes, it may become distracting to your interviewer.

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