Video interviews are here to stay. Here’s how to get it right and land the job:
1) Be Tech ready. Days before:
- Even if you use a computer every day, don’t take it for granted that everything will go smoothly. The Internet can be a fickle and moody thing. Have a back-up plan (using phone 4G/hotspot for example) in case your internet goes down. Have the interviewer’s phone number handy in case there’s a tech issue during the interview.
- If you’ve used Zoom, Skype or MS Teams before then you have a good idea of what to expect. If not, ask someone to practice with you by sending you an invitation on the same platform that your interview will be on.
- Have you got any settings which turn your screen off automatically if it looks like you are not typing/using the mouse etc?
- If the interview is on Zoom and you have a Zoom account, check that your Zoom name is a sensible one and is actually your own name. This is important as your name appears throughout the entire interview on the screen. This can be quite distracting if you are using someone else’s Zoom account because their name will appear under your image.
30 mins before your interview:
- Plug the computer power cable in. Video can quickly zap up battery life and your interview may be longer than you expect.
- Do you live with other people who may be using the internet – including any online gaming guzzlers? If so, consider asking them to come offline whilst you are having your interview to keep your download speed and everything running as swishy as possible.
- Turn your phone to silent and face it away from you so it’s not a distraction.
- Check your background looks tidy.
- Set your microphone for around 80% to avoid distortion and feedback.
- If you have a desktop plugin microphone, I recommend using it. It’ll give you a richer/deeper sounding voice. Also be wary that they are usually more sensitive than your computer mic and will pick up every teeny desk noise you make, throat clearing sounds and water slurps.
- Have your computer directly in front of you, not angled to the side.
- Position the camera on your computer to your eye level (I just use hard-backed books to elevate my laptop). This avoids the interviewer looking up your nose.
- If possible, go into a quick call with someone to test your audio and camera are working properly on the day.
2) Have your ‘interview material’, career stories and examples in front of you
This is a major advantage of being interviewed in your own home. Prepare your interview material just as thoroughly as you would for an in-person interview, (my Interview Technique Book on the website can help you with this). THEN you can have your notes, story headlines and questions for you to ask scattered around your desk and on the wall in front of your laptop like career confetti.
3) What to wear
Think about your skin colour, hair colour and the colour of your wall that will be your video backdrop. Avoid wearing anything that makes you disappear into the background. Wear something smart on your bottom half too. You may get away with wearing comfy lounge pants, but if you need to stand up, your only option then is to slide across the desk which is pretty funny.
If you have a window behind you, close the blinds so they can see your face in detail rather than a silhouette. Likewise, if you have a window to your side. Experiment with the most flattering lighting. Overhead spotlights can be harsh, you may want to plug in a lamp and bounce some light off the wall next to you.
5) During the interview
- Be enthusiastic, warm and friendly (as well as professional). With no handshakes and the normal in-person greetings that we normally rely on to build a great first impression, your first impression on video needs to be ultra-positive.
- Keep a healthy space between you and the camera. If you’re leaning across your keyboard you’ve gone too far.
- Don’t sit in a swivel chair if you can help it. It’s really distracting for the interviewer if you’re swinging too and fro whilst you think of your answers.
- Eye contact – try to look at the camera as much as you can when talking, this helps to create the impression that you are really looking at them.
- Avoid looking at yourself on the screen. Easier said than done. I tend to have a blank document open that I minimise on the screen then drag across my face. You could do this with your CV doc.