Illustration of a two people talking during a video interview.
Image: © OlgaStrelnikova/Stock.adobe.com

12 tips to help make your video interview a success

12 May 2021

Have a job interview coming up that’s taking place over video? Practising, preparing and keeping calm will help, writes Hays’ Travis O’Rourke.

Video interviews require just as much preparation as face-to-face or telephone interviews, if not more. Due to the added element of technology, the chance of something going wrong is increased, so it’s important to do everything you can beforehand to ensure your interview goes without a glitch.

These 12 tips will help to ensure that you don’t get caught off guard by any technical issues and that your ability as a candidate shines through.

1. Get your video interview set-up right

Firstly, think about where you are going to have your video interview. Will it be your home office? Your bedroom? Your kitchen? Once you’ve decided on the most appropriate room, think about what the interviewer will see in frame when looking behind you.

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Keep your background scene as clear as possible, as pictures on the wall or other objects can risk distracting the interviewer and their attention needs to be firmly on you. Also, make sure your surroundings are tidy and the lighting is good.

Once you have set up your ‘interview room’, make sure you’re not risking family, friends or even pets walking in when the interview is taking place. Let them know ahead of time that you have an interview, and then close the door to keep out noise.

2. Test the technology in advance

The day before your video interview is due to take place, it’s always a good idea to have a test run. Organise a test call with a family member or friend. This will ensure you feel confident using the technology, and that the camera and microphone both work. Run through some interview questions and answers and ask the family member or friend to provide you with any specific feedback.

3. Practise out loud and record yourself

Video recording yourself speaking your interview answers out loud is a great way to check for any points you may need to correct before the interview itself, such as looking down too much, poor body language, speaking too quietly or speaking too quickly.

It also gives you a final opportunity to test your call settings, the lighting in the room and your body language. You won’t want to suddenly become aware of these issues during the interview itself and risk looking ill-prepared and unprofessional as a result.

4. Make sure your account is professional

The first thing that your interviewer will see is your account’s profile photo and username, so ensure both depict you in a professional light. If you already have a personal account on the platform, consider creating a separate account that you can use specifically for interviewing. You could even create a username associated with your profession, for instance, ‘JohnSmithFinance’.

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5. Have notes to hand

Before the interview, print off your CV and prepare questions to ask at the end. Prepare individual points to put to one side to use as springboards for conversation, or prompts. This will help limit the risk of being tempted to look down and simply read from your CV,  thus not maintaining eye contact with the interviewer.

6. Get there early

You wouldn’t turn up to a face-to-face interview seconds before it is due to start, and the same is true for Skype or other types of video calls. Make sure you start the programme up and have everything in place at least 10 minutes before the interview start time.

This will ensure you are ready and waiting when the interviewer dials in. The last thing you want to do is keep the interviewer waiting and risk being perceived as unorganised and poor at managing your time.

7. Dress appropriately

While you may be taking the video interview from the comfort of your own home, you should still dress as you would for a face-to-face interview. If in doubt, it’s always a good idea to dress as professionally as you can.

Also, be aware of what clothing will be in the frame. For instance, if you decide to wear tracksuit bottoms and a shirt, you may regret it if you need to stand up!

8. Keep tabs on your body language

During your video interview, make sure you look directly into the webcam when you speak and not at the screen; this will help maintain eye contact as though you were in the room. Maintaining eye contact will show the interviewer that you are paying attention and will help you build rapport, making conversation flow more naturally.

Also, remember to sit up straight and smile to show the interviewer that you are a confident communicator and are engaged in the interview process.

9. Actively listen

Remember that you are in a conversation, so you should show engagement when the interviewer is talking by nodding and agreeing. If you aren’t accustomed to video interviews, having to look through a webcam and at a tiny Skype window may feel unnatural at first.

So, you should be careful not to come across as too static and unnatural in turn. Use hand gestures and animate your face and body in much the same way as you would in a face-to-face conversation.

10. Prepare for potential time lags

During the video interview, you may encounter a delay or time lag between the interviewer speaking and you hearing their words. If this happens, make sure not to speak over your interviewer and avoid speaking in long blocks. This will help the conversation to feel more natural.

11. Keep calm if things go awry

Despite all the preparation, practise and precautions that you may take for your upcoming video interview, technology can always find a way to throw a spanner in the works. For instance, you may have issues with your internet connection or your microphone may start to play up.

It’s important in these situations to stay calm. How you react when things don’t go as planned here can reveal to your employer your ability to calmly and proactively tackle difficult situations.

12. Follow up afterwards

This final step is no less important than it is after an in-person interview. After the interview, send a quick email via your recruiter to say you enjoyed meeting them and learning more about the role and the company. Conclude the email by saying that you look forward to hearing from them and reinforce your interest in the role.

By Travis O’Rourke

Travis O’Rourke is president of Hays Canada. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Viewpoint blog.

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