If you score an interview, there’s a very good chance you might meet your interviewer for the first time over webcam. Video interviews are easier and cheaper than in-person meetings, so these days, many companies are using them to screen candidates and speed up the interview process.
There are two types of video interviews. In live interviews, you’ll connect to the interviewer in real-time over video chat. In one-way interviews, you’ll have a minute to read and think about a question, and then another couple of minutes to answer it on camera. Then, the recording will be sent to the hiring manager.
Either way, here’s how to nail your video interview and stand out in a sea of applicants.
#1 Test your audio, video and internet connection.
The day before your interview, double-check that your microphone, camera and WiFi are working properly. Then, if they aren’t, you’ll have time to fix the problem – and avoid running into a glitch in the middle of your interview. On the day of the interview, triple-check everything and make sure your laptop is charged.
#2 Set up the scene.
Unlike an in-person interview, with video interviews, you get to control the scene. So, you want to make sure it presents you in the best possible light. Start by choosing a space that’s quiet, well-lit, and private – so there’s no chance of you being interrupted or distracted (by your mum/housemate/dog). Then, for your background, think clean, not cluttered. Ideally, there should be a blank wall behind you, but if that’s not possible, just tidy it up and get rid of any unnecessary objects and questionable posters of pop stars or American presidents. Next, work your angles! Frame the camera so that your shoulders are in the shot. The camera should be at eye-level. Adjust your chair or if you’re on a laptop, prop it up on something so you’re looking straight ahead at the camera (and at the person), not down.
Pro tip: If the room is darker than you’d like, pop lamps on either side of your computer and put a sheet of white paper over them. It’s a weird trick but it works!
#3 Dress professionally.
Think about what looks good on camera, too. These tips will help:
- Avoid wearing too much jewellery. It can be distracting.
- Go for natural-looking makeup, and use blotting paper or powder to nix any shine on the T-zone.
- Steer clear of white, black and bright tops – they can either wash you out or look way too bright on camera. Choose soft, solid colours instead, like blue.
#4 Be aware of your body language.
You may be on the other side of the screen, but your interviewer will still be able to pick up on your physical cues. Posture is linked to confidence, so sit up straight with both feet on the ground (crossing your legs might mess with your careful camera framing). Try not to fidget, twirl your hair, touch your face, tap your fingers or gesture so wildly that your arms are flailing outside of the frame. Just relax. And smile! Positive body language conveys confidence, and will help your interviewer to get a feel of your physical presence.
Top tip: Never been on camera? Try recording and then watching yourself to see if you have any nervous habits.
#5 Pause to consider your answers.
Just like you would in a face-to-face conversation, you can stop for a second and think about your answer. That’s better than rattling off the first thing that comes to mind. Also, internet connections can be delayed, so it’s worth waiting for a couple of seconds before delivering your answer. And if you get stuck, just pause, collect yourself, and continue calmly – again, like you’d do IRL. Recruiters know interviews are a high-pressure sitch, so they don’t expect every answer to be perfect.
Whatever you do, don’t script your answers. Of course, you should practice possible answers and think of good examples to draw upon, but try to avoid learning lines – and definitely don’t put a post-it note on your computer. The interviewer will notice your eyes darting around. They don’t want to hear rehearsed responses; they want to see genuine excitement and get an idea of your personality.
#6 Maintain eye content through the video interview.
It can be hard to maintain eye contact during a face-to-face interview, and even harder on video. But as awkward as it feels to stare into a camera, it’s important to focus on your interviewer to come across as confident. Eye contact can reveal a lot about a candidate. If you’re constantly looking up or down, that can signal to the interviewer that you’re nervous, unsure or shifty.
Struggling to keep your eyes on the price? Try focusing on one eye at a time.
#7 Find things you have in common.
When you’re interviewing via video, you’re physically separated from the person interviewing you. Aim to break down that barrier a bit by identifying a few similarities. Maybe you went to the same university; or maybe you have mutual connections on LinkedIn. This’ll help to get the conversation flowing.
#8 Prep, prep, prep!
Do everything you would do to prep for a regular interview. Research the company, its culture and its founder. Learn about the product and service. Think about your strengths and weaknesses (aka strengths disguised as weaknesses). Also, think of situations that you could use as examples of your experience and expertise. Video interviews often ask about teamwork, leadership and time management, so it’s a good idea to have a few examples ready to go.
Finally, prepare questions to ask your interviewer. This will show the interviewer that you’re engaged and curious – which is key to a successful video interview!
Got the job? Check out 18 clever things you should do in the first week at a new job.