Video interviews are becoming more and more popular because they offer employers an easy way to assess lots of candidates in an efficient (and cost effective) way.
Video interviews allow managers to schedule more interviews, in a shorter period of time, while also cutting down the overall time they have to spend on traditional in-person interviews.
Video interviews also save on transportation costs and the time associated with traveling to and from the site of the in-person interview.
But how does this really affect you as the prospective employee?
Most of us know how to conduct ourselves for in-person interviews, but what about online interviews, or pre-recorded interviews?
Video interviews have a few nuances that in-person interviews do not, but video interviews don’t have to be awful!
Follow my video interview tips below, and learn how to properly prepare with the following example questions and answers.
Plan in Advance
It’s very important that you prepare in advance of your video interview.
You should extensively research not only the job for which you’re interviewing, but also on the company to which you’ve applied.
Hiring managers and interviewers like to see candidates who have done their homework. You can prove this by not only being prepared to answer their questions, but by asking some of your own.
The idea of any interview, video or in-person, is to have a two-way conversation; it’s not just about you answering questions.
Hiring managers will want to see the confidence beaming from you through the screen.
Unlike phone interview screenings, the interviewer will be able to see all of your facial emotions and posture, so approach the video interview as if you’re sitting in the same room with the person you’re talking to on the other side of the screen.
You will not be able to hand him or her a copy of your resume and other application materials.
Because of this, make sure you ask them before the interview if they would like you to send copies to them electronically.
Make Sure Your Technology Can Handle the Video Interview
Test your computer and set everything up in advance so you don’t have any problems during the interview.
It’s very important that you have reliable technology.
If you don’t have an up-to-date computer with a built-in camera and microphone, or if you don’t have an external webcam and microphone, see if you can borrow one.
It’s very important you have a solid and stable high-speed internet connection that can handle the video streaming service and won’t cut out.
It’ll also be necessary for you to have a computer that can run the required program without cutting out or lagging.
Having a video or audio feed that isn’t working well will make you look less professional to hiring managers.
This might not be fair, but it’s a simple fact of today’s business world.
Run a Test Video Interview
Once you have ensured your computer and internet service are stable enough to handle a video interview, it’s important to test your technology to make sure the connection is seamless.
The last thing you want is to have a clunky start to the interview because you didn’t know how to connect, or you didn’t have the proper program downloaded and installed.
Find out from the interview manager in advance what program the video interview will be conducted over – such as Skype or Google Hangouts – and what his or her contact name or number is on that program.
Next, download the program, if necessary, if you don’t already have it.
Sign up for an account in advance if you don’t have one, and provide that to the hiring manager.
The username on the video conferencing service is the first impression the hiring manager or interviewer will have of you.
So, make sure you choose a username that is simple and to the point, such as simply your name, if possible.
For example, if your name is John Robinson, try setting up your video conference username as John.Robinson, and not johnnyboy1994.
If you already have an account, but it’s not appropriate professionally, set up a new account you can use specifically for this interview.
Once the software is downloaded, and your account is set up, it’s time to test your connection.
Set up a test call with a friend or family member through the service on the computer you are going to use to ensure you are familiar with the technology, how it works and whether your technology can handle it.
This will also give you the opportunity to see how you look on the other end.
Ask the person who is helping you with the test interview to record the interview.
This will allow you to play it back and see if your surroundings are perfect, if the sound and video works well and if, for example, your webcam is pointed at the right angle so you’re looking straight ahead at the camera.
If your webcam is looking up or down at you, it could create shadows or, worse, make it appear that you have a double chin.
Dress the Part
Just because you will be conducting the video interview from the comfort of your home doesn’t mean you should present yourself in a relaxed way.
A video interview is no less important or formal than a traditional in-person interview.
Dress the part of a candidate who wants the job, not as someone who’s lounging around.
And while the hiring manager will most likely only see you from the waist up, make sure you are wearing a nice pair of pants or skirt, in case you have to stand up or move during the interview.
Not only should you be dressed in appropriate clothing, you should be groomed properly as well.
Hiring managers want to see you’re taking the video interview as seriously as you would a traditional in-person interview.
If you’re not dressed for the part, chances are they’ll pass you over for someone who takes it more seriously.
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
In a traditional in-office interview, you don’t have to worry about setting up your surroundings properly; the environment is the company’s responsibility.
In video interviews, the role is flipped. It’s up to you to provide the perfect, and appropriate, backdrop.
Things you should pay attention to include:
- Lighting: Make sure light sources are in front of you, not behind you or over your head. You want your face to shine in a good way with warm light. Light behind you or overhead will make you appear dark with shadows.
- Backdrop: Ideally, you can sit in front of a blank white wall, or have some other surroundings that appear to be an office-like setting. One thing you definitely don’t want is dirty dishes or dirty clothes in the background.
- Noise: Make sure you’ll be in a place that is quiet and won’t create echoes.
- Distractions: If another person or other people must be in the house with you during your interview, tell them in advance that you can’t be bothered. It would look bad if people were walking in the background, or could be heard talking or making noise during the video interview.
This YouTube video provides some great tips along these lines:
Also, don’t forget all of this applies to pets and not just other people.
If there are dogs in the place you live, see if someone can watch them during your interview.
Finally, shut off or silence your phone, just as you would for a traditional in-person interview.
The more professional you present your surroundings, the more professional you will look as a candidate.
Establish “Eye Contact”
It’s important to establish eye contact, just as you would for an in-person interview.
The difference here, of course, is you won’t be in the same room as the hiring manager, so making eye contact in the literal sense is impossible.
The way to do establish “eye contact” during a video interview is to look directly into the webcam, not directly at the computer screen.
If your webcam is at the top of your monitor, look directly into it so you appear to be looking straight at the hiring manager on his or her screen.
If you look at the middle of the monitor instead, it’ll appear that you’re looking down.
Have Good Posture and Don’t Be Distracted
Present yourself in the same fashion as you would if you were participating in an in-person interview in the company’s office.
Pay attention to your posture and sit straight up in your chair, even if it’s a more comfortable padded chair than the one you’d sit in at their office.
Don’t slouch. Don’t lean to one side or the next – just as you wouldn’t if you were in the same room as the interviewer.
Make sure the desk or table is clean and clear of clutter, and don’t fuss with any pens, pencils, paper or other items while the interview is being conducted.
The hiring manager will be able to see and hear everything you’re doing through the webcam and speakers, just like he or she would if you were sitting in front of them in the same room.
Also, just because you’ll be on a computer doesn’t mean you can do other things such as browse the internet or check your email.
A telltale sign that you’re doing any of these tasks is if you’re messing around with the computer’s mouse.
The mouse is your enemy during video interviews. Put it away, if possible, once you connect to the video interview.
Finally, try to not make too many movements, including talking with your hands too much.
Too much movement can create a lag-like situation for the video interview, if either your technology or theirs isn’t the best.
Along the same lines, make sure to speak slowly and clearly, just in case the audio feed is lagging behind the video feed, or vice versa. You want to make sure the interviewer can hear and understand you clearly.
Show You Are Confident
By following these simple tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to presenting yourself in the most professional and prepared light as you possibly can for your video interview.
Keep in mind that just because you won’t be in the same room as the person on the other end of the video conference doesn’t mean you should treat this style of interview any differently than the more traditional in-person interview.
Interviewers will still be expecting the same professionalism and seriousness as if you were in the office with them.
So, make sure you’re exuding an air of professionalism with your appearance, your technology, your environment and your confidence.
Take a look at this YouTube video on some more great tips on how to conduct a great video interview:
Need more practice? Try practice tests from JobTestPrep.