By now, you’re probably familiar with the basics of setting up for a video interview: Find a quiet, clean place to have it, make sure your mic is turned on, etc.. But with more and more employers using videos interviews, and more and more job seekers knowing the basics, it’s a good idea to take your digital interviewing skills to the next level and differentiate yourself from the others.
While your goals are the same as in a traditional interview, there are a differences in how you achieve them. You want to make sure that your interviewer can focus on your best qualities rather than whether they can hear you or not.
These tips will help you, we hope, overcome the unique challenges inherent in video interviews so you can put your best foot forward.
- Prepare like it’s an in-person Interview
Just because your interview is happening over video doesn’t mean it’s not a real interview. You still need to prepare the same way you would if you were going into the office. That means researching the company and role, preparing to answer common interview questions, and coming up with questions to ask your interviewer in return.
- Dress to impress
When you get dressed for a video interview, you want to be just as formal as you would be for an in-person interview at the same company. The urge to be less formal because you’re in your own home is understandable, but it might send the wrong message about how interested you are in the role.
- Test your tech
Test out your setup ahead of time using the same platform, internet connection and hardware you’ll be using for your interview. Have a friend video chat with you to make sure you can hear and be heard and see and be seen. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the program and make sure you know the basics—especially how to mute and unmute your microphone.
- Choose the right place
Choose a quiet area and set up in front of the most neutral background you can. Either a blank wall or a room without a lot of distracting clutter or decoration. Make sure you’re well lit (natural light is best) with your light source behind your computer or phone, not behind you. If you have to use a phone, prop it up rather than holding it in your hand.
- Position yourself well
Not too close, not too far. You don’t want to sit an uncomfortable distance from your computer. When you’re setting up your chair, you’ll want to make sure you don’t end up looking too tiny or too huge. To be well proportioned, make sure there’s a bit of empty space on the screen above your head and check that your shoulders and upper chest are visible.
- Prepare for eye contact
While actual eye contact isn’t possible in a video interview, you’ll want to get as close as possible to your interviewer. Looking at someone’s face is usually enough to show that you’re listening and engaged with what they’re saying. To that end, make sure you’ve found a comfortable distance that allows you to look straight ahead rather than down at the camera.
- Check for glare
Before you’ve finalised your outfit and location, see if anything in your shot is reflecting or giving off a glare that might be distracting to your interviewer. The main culprits are usually watches, jewellery and glasses, and solving the issue might be as easy as removing one accessory.
- Practice your video interview skills
If you’re not used to video chat, you might find carrying on a conversation to be a bit awkward at first, especially if you can see yourself as well. We recommend that you set up a test video interview with a friend or career coach. You can also record your practice. When you play it back, you’ll notice if you’re making eye contact, fiddling with papers, if your posture is bad, etc… And then make adjustment before the real interview.
- Pay attention to how you sound
People are usually concerned with how they look in a video interview and often forget to think about how they sound. Like in a normal interview, try and pay attention on how fast you speak, how you pause and the tone and pitch of your voice. Make sure you sound excited when discussing the things you’re passionate about.
- Write notes but don’t read them
Because your interviewer won’t be able to see everything you have on your desk, it might be tempting to have a lot of information in front of you for a video interview. But be careful, have only a few quick notes in front of you and glancing at them sparingly. Write down key figures and other small snippets, not whole answers. You don’t want to sound like you are reading.
- Minimise interruptions, but take them in your stride if they happen
Of course, you will do whatever you can to cut down on the chances of being interrupted. Make sure you turn off or silence your phone or any other electronic device that might make noise and pause any notifications on your computer. However, if there’s a high chance of you being interrupted by something outside of your control, mentioning it at the start can prepare your interviewer and show them you’re proactive. It can also help settle your nerves about the situation. For example, if you have a dog in the next room that might start barking.
- “Show Up” a few minutes Early
Open up the program where your video interview will take place a few minutes early. Before you fully enter the meeting, a lot of the common video interview software will give you a chance to check your shot. Prepare your computer by closing all extra windows and tabs. And if you have a portfolio or anything similar you’d like to be able to show via screen share during your interview, make sure that it’s ready in an easy-to-access, but minimised, window.
- Start off with a “digital handshake”
Try a “digital handshake”. After you say hello, look right into the camera to forge a connection, do a small head nod as if to say ‘yes!,’ and add a smile, which translates warmth and openness.
- Acknowledge the differences
It’s OK to mention in the moment that a video interview isn’t the same as an in-person interview. Acknowledging these things helps put people at ease and mimics those introductory moments. Also, don’t be afraid to say if something feels off—if you can’t hear or see your interviewer well, for example. It’ll just demonstrate that you’re willing to speak up and be straightforward about issues.
- Maintain good posture
Because you’re at home, it’s natural to be a little more relaxed. Try not to let this translate into you slumping down in your seat. Sitting up straight naturally gives you a bit more energy and helps you communicate your excitement about the job.
- Use your face to show you’re engaged
Non-verbal communication is important in any conversation. But when it comes to a video interview, eye contact, body language, and small murmurs of agreement are cut off, so we have to use facial expression, for example, instead of saying “mm-hm” or “yeah,” nod or smile when you’d usually speak. That way your interviewer still gets the feedback they need without your mic accidentally overriding theirs.
- Don’t interrupt the other person
This apply generally for any type of interview but with internet lag, it’s not always immediately apparent whether someone is done speaking or just pausing. So once you think your interviewer is done, take a breath before you answer. If you have trouble with this, get in the habit of muting yourself while the other person is speaking—that way the action of turning the mic back on forces you to give them a little extra time to keep talking.
- Signal when you have finished answering
In the same way, it’s helpful for the other person if you signal the end of your answer, especially if it’s a long one. You can do this through a visual cue like nodding or you can make sure you conclude your answer strongly or ask the interviewer a question.
- Explain any long pause
Because of the various limitations of video calls, it might not always be clear to your interviewer what you’re doing if no one is speaking. Explain to them if you’re pausing to write down a few notes, pull up some information for them, or even just formulate your answer to a question. This shows that you’re aware of their experience while also reassuring them that no technical glitches have occurred.
- Treat your video interview like a conversation
In a video interview, you don’t have the time before and after the interview to make small talk, so it’s important to make sure you build rapport during your interview, to build a connection.
Make sure your video call is “not just question, answer, question, answer,” When your interviewer responds to your answers, feel free to comment on their responses if you have more to say and sprinkle your own questions throughout your conversation whenever they’re appropriate. You want your interviewer to see you as someone they could talk to every day, not just someone they read a list of questions to.
In a nutshell, remember that you have the same goal in a video interview and an in-person interview: to show that you’re the right person for the job. Ultimately, you want to spend as little time as possible during a video interview focused on the video part. What counts is the connection you can make with an interviewer and the impression you make.
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