How to Prepare for a Video Interview
Does the idea of a video interview make you nervous? If it does, you’re certainly not alone. Many people are camera-shy and don’t like how they look on video. Others may have never done a video interview before.
Whether you like it or not, video interviews have become increasingly common. 62% percent of companies with more than 1,000 employees conducted video interviews in 2019, according to HR.com. The same survey revealed that 45% of HR managers who haven’t done video interviews are considering them.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many companies have moved most or all their job interviews to video. LinkedIn, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are among several high-profile employers that have suspended in-person interviews and opted to conduct interviews virtually.
If you’ve never done a video interview, now’s the time to prepare. Mastering the technology, planning for disruptions, and knowing the key do’s and don’ts for video interviews will put you a step ahead of your competition.
Empire Resume will let you know the basics of preparing to video interviews, such as what you should wear, where you should conduct them from, the best practices for body language, and more.
Get to Know the Tech
The first step in preparing for a video interview is to familiarize yourself with the technology you’ll be using. Check your computer’s webcam, microphone, and internet connection and make sure it’s working properly.
Find out what video conferencing software the employer will be using for the interview. There’s an endless array of options, though the most common ones are Zoom and Skype. Make sure you download the software a few days before the interview and get to know how the program works. Also, ensure you pick a professional username when you sign up.
Do test chats with the software ahead of time. Ask a friend or family member to do a video chat with you, so you can get a feel for the software. A bonus for camera-shy people is you’ll get more used to seeing yourself on screen.
Setting up the Interview Space
It’s important to choose a quiet area for a video interview that’s free of distractions. It’s generally best to do the interview at home (and that’s likely necessary now because of the pandemic).
Whether you’re in a home office or the kitchen, make sure the area has a good internet connection. Also, ensure you won’t be interrupted. If there’s anyone else in the house, let them know about your interview ahead of time.
Here are a few other things to remember about setting up your interview space:
- Check the lighting. Natural light from a window is ideal for video interviews, whereas too much fluorescent light can be unflattering to your appearance on screen. Try to get a mix of natural and artificial light. It’s always better to face a light source (like a window) then to have it behind you. When the light source is behind you, it’ll create shadows.
- Clear all distractions. When it’s time for the interview, make sure your desk is free from any distractions, especially your phone. The only things you should need are a copy of your resume, a glass of water, and a notepad and pen to take notes.
- Be mindful of your background. During the interview, you’ll want the hiring manager to be focused on you – not what’s behind you. Pick a spot for your interview where the background will be organized and free of clutter.
What You Should Wear
You should dress the same way for a video interview than you would for an in-person interview. However, there are a few differences to keep in mind.
First off, don’t wear a nice top and match it with sweatpants, assuming the interviewer won’t know the difference. You should always wear khakis, dress pants, or a skirt in case you must stand up for any reason.
Avoid wearing white or other bright colors, as these don’t look great on screen. Colors that do look good include deep colors like navy blue. Also, always choose solid-colored shirts and blouses and avoid ones with patterns. Lastly, avoid wearing any distracting jewelry. Jewelry that’s shiny can create glare on the screen.
Plan for Common Snafus
There’s always a chance something could go wrong during a video interview, especially if you’re inexperienced with them. Have a backup plan and know how to react to common technical problems or interruptions.
Before the interview, ask the manager for his or her phone number. If the video or audio stops mid-interview and you can’t fix it, call the manager right away. See if you can continue the interview over the phone or if you can reschedule it.
There’s also the chance a loud noise on your end will interrupt the interview, such as a fire engine or police siren. If this happens, apologize and ask for a few moments until the noise stops. If the noise is severe, temporarily mute the audio from your end.
If someone interrupts your interview or walks into the room (such as a family member or pet), apologize to the manager and ask for a moment to deal with the interruption. Turn off your microphone and camera, deal with the interruption, and make sure the room is secure before you re-start the interview.
Be Mindful of Body Language
Body language is important during a video interview and most experts agree on certain do’s and don’ts. Perhaps the most important – and difficult – thing to do is maintaining good eye contact.
When you speak, look directly at the webcam. Looking at the webcam will align your eyes to the manager’s eyes on the other end. Avoid the instinct of looking at the interviewer on the screen while you’re speaking. When the interviewer is speaking, it’s okay to look at the screen.
How you frame the camera and how you look on screen is equally important. You should always position the camera at eye level and never position it so you’re looking up or looking down. Also, you’ll want to be framed from the waist or chest up on the screen, so position your webcam accordingly.
Maintaining good posture will allow you to convey enthusiasm and an upbeat mood. Good posture for a video interview includes sitting with your back straight and shoulders open. Also, plant your feet firmly on the floor and rest your hands in your lap or on the desk.
Two Types of Video Interviews
Generally, there are two types of video interviews: ones that are live and ones that are pre-recorded. Many of the tips we just described will apply to both types.
A live interview is probably the easiest type to prepare for. In live interviews, you’ll simply be talking to the manager on the other end, just as you would in an in-person interview.
Pre-recorded or digital interviews are a bit trickier. Instead of being connected live with a manager, you’ll answer questions that have been pre-recorded. The employer will record your answers and then review the video later. In some cases, there may also be a time limit for the answers you give.
Job candidates are put at a significant disadvantage in pre-recorded interviews, losing the chance to interact with a manager. Employers do these types of interviews because they increase recruiting efficiency.
If you must do a pre-recorded interview, keep these tips in mind:
- Carefully follow instructions. Job candidates can be disqualified from a pre-recorded interview if they don’t follow instructions exactly. Read the instructions very carefully before you begin – don’t just skim them.
- Meet the deadline in advance. One benefit of pre-recorded interviews for job seekers is they can do them at their own convenience. The employer will usually set a deadline for when they need to be completed. Try to finish the interview ahead of time, which will impress the manager and make their lives easier.
Common Video Interview Questions
Other than the technology, video interviews are very similar to in-person interviews. The format may be different, but all the same principles still apply. That includes the most common interview questions you’ll likely face.
Five common video interview questions are:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why should we hire you?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What’s your greatest weakness?
- What questions do you have for me?
As you can see, these five questions are just as likely to be asked in an in-person interview. Preparing for a video interview means you’ll have to do some extra work to get acquainted with the tech, but you’ll still need to prepare in the other standard ways.
Video interview preparation should also include doing research on the company, preparing answers for the most common questions, preparing questions you want to ask the manager, and practicing ahead of time.
Practice Makes Perfect
Video interviews are becoming more common, as employers look to streamline their hiring processes. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they may also be the only type of interview job candidates are able to land for the time being.
If you’ve never done a video interview before, it can feel awkward at first, especially if you’re camera-shy. But practice makes perfect. Give yourself plenty of time before the interview to get to know the tech you’ll be using.
As we explained, preparation for a video interview should also involve having a backup plan for interruptions and knowing the body language cues that are so important.
For people with TV or acting experience, video interviews may not seem so tough. That’s because conducting a video interview has many similarities to setting up your own studio and being the “star” of your own show, so to speak.
Think of video interviews in that way to gain an edge: You’re essentially putting on a show for the manager and you want to present yourself in the best light. Video interviews will likely only become more common in the future, so the more you practice now, the better off you will be.
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Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. When Maria is not working, she enjoys reading and spending quality time with her family.