Preparing for a job interview is a common practice for any prospective employee. However, if up to now you’ve been focusing on perfecting your handshake, you should be aware that video interviews are being used more by employers in their recruitment processes. Whether you’re applying for a freelance job, a telecommuting position such as a web developer, or interviewing for an in-office position away from your current home, you can expect to get a video interview. If you have one coming up, you can relieve your nerves with some thorough preparation and familiarising yourself with the best practices. Here are some tips that could help you land the job.
How to prepare for a video interview
Wear professional clothes (eg shirt, blouse, skirt, pants, jacket) with soft colours like light blue and grey and no patterns. For a tie, pick a soft, solid colour like a dark, deep blue. If you’re a woman, wear some make-up on your nose and forehead to avoid shininess. If you’re a man and are naturally shiny or sweat profusely, put on some make-up too or spray on antiperspirant. If you wear glasses, make sure they’re glare-proof, but if they’re not then wear contacts if you have some or adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from the lenses.
To help you relax before and during the interview, find a quiet and well-lit place that’s free from clutter, distractions and interruptions, and schedule the interview at an agreed time with the employer. Make sure your computer’s audio, webcam, and Internet are working properly and keep your phone nearby in case there are connection issues, but set it to silent. Also keep water nearby in case you get a dry mouth from nervousness. Have a pen, notepad, and copy of your resume on the desk for reference and taking notes. Moreover, you should prepare answers for potential interview questions and do some practice video interviews with friends or family members until you feel confident and ready.
Tips on how to conduct yourself during the interview
1. Greet well
There’s a risk of awkwardness when first connecting over video, as it’s not quite the same as walking into an office. However, it’s still your chance to make a good first impression. Greet the interviewer politely, and address them by name. Speaking clearly will show confidence, and can help establish early on that you’re treating this as a serious interview.
2. Make eye contact
Making eye contact with the interviewer can help convey connection with what they’re saying. But while doing this in person can be a struggle, with a video interview you have a choice - webcam or screen? A good rule of thumb is to look into the webcam, especially when you’re speaking so that it appears that you’re looking into the interviewer’s eyes. On the other hand, you can resize and move the window with the interviewer’s video image close to the webcam to also give the appearance that you’re making eye contact.
3. Avoid freezing up or appearing bored
Seeming tense can send a bad signal whether you’re in the same room or over a video connection. When you’re listening to the interviewer, make sure to nod your head and smile when appropriate to show them that you’re engaged. Smiling genuinely and confidently also gives the interviewer a good perception of you.
4. Use hand gestures
Use hand gestures when it feels appropriate, such as when you’re talking about your work experience or a time when you had to solve a difficult problem at work. It’ll help keep you lively.
5. Have good posture
Having good posture can help you convey confidence and optimism, as well as maintain your on-camera framing. For example, you should sit in your chair with your back straight and shoulders open, leaning slightly forward, feet firmly planted on the floor, and arms resting on your lap or on the desk.
6. Position yourself correctly in front of the camera
You should position yourself in the centre of the screen, facing the camera while looking up slightly, and not too close that your face fills the screen or too far that your legs can be seen or you can’t be heard. Also adjust your chair so that you’re not too low or high in the frame.
7. Stay focused
It’s important to stay focused on the interview, so don’t let your gaze drift away from the webcam or computer screen or talk about non-work-related things. Also avoid checking email, social media, your phone, and so on while the interviewer’s talking.
8. Don’t do anything too distracting
When making hand gestures, keep them close to your body so you don’t distract the interviewer. What’s more, don’t fidget, swivel or rock in your chair, twirl your hair, tap your fingernails or a pen on the desk, touch your face, or jingle noisy jewellery. While this is good advice regardless of whether you’re on video or in person, you do need to be aware that sounds that feel little can be picked up more clearly than you, especially if the distraction is closer to the microphone.
9. Apologise for any unexpected interruptions
Make sure to apologise for any interruptions during the interview. For example:
- If the video or audio stops working on your end, call the interviewer, apologise, and ask if you can continue the interview by phone or if you can reschedule.
- If external noise interrupts your conversation (eg construction, sirens, lawnmower), apologise and ask for a few moments until the noise subsides. You can mute the microphone if the noise is very loud.
- If someone enters the room, apologise, ask for a few moments, mute the mic, blank your webcam, and step away to deal with the interruption.
Addressing unexpected interruptions with professionalism shows the interviewer how you’d handle yourself in a real-life situation.
10. Thank the interviewer for their time
You should thank the interviewer for their time at the end of the interview – they’ll appreciate the courtesy. It can also help you leave a great lasting impression. As you can’t finish it off with a strong handshake as might be social convention in person, a polite wave as a sign-off and casual closing of the video window can leave an impression of confidence and politeness.
Ready to improve your video interview skills?
By preparing thoroughly and conducting yourself properly, the interviewer will focus more on your answers and what you can do for the company. So keep these tips in mind when you have a video interview in the future.