7 Video interview tips that can help you stand out to employers
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, remote work and social distancing have forced companies to find new ways to vet, interview and hire job candidates. In fact, 86 percent of organizations are now conducting virtual interviews. With no clear end to the global pandemic in sight, it’s safe to say that video interviews are here to stay.
Making a great impression during a virtual hiring process takes preparation and practice, just like a traditional in-person interview. Read along for video interview tips that will help you feel confident and ready to shine.
7 Expert tips for acing your video interview
Don’t be intimidated by virtual interviews — a little preparation goes a long way. Consider the following advice gathered from expert career advisors.
1. Plan as you would for an in-person interview
The “how” of your interview isn’t nearly as important as the “what.” Make sure to do your homework on the company, the position you’re interviewing for and, if possible, the person interviewing you. Practice sharing answers to questions you think will be asked. Polish your “elevator pitch” for common questions like:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What makes you the best candidate for this position?
“The objectives and the flow of a video interview are exactly the same as a traditional in-person meeting,” explains Katy Curameng, director of career planning and development at UMass Global. “The difference is in the nuances of how you achieve those objectives and build a connection with the interviewers.”
Curameng points out that you can’t express confidence through a firm handshake on Zoom, and non-verbal cues are more difficult to read. Instead, things like making strong eye contact become critical. During a one-on-one interview, it’s easy to look at the camera and maintain eye contact. If you have multiple interviewers on the screen, you will need to specifically address the person you are responding to.
2. Practice your answers and prepare questions for the interviewer
You would never read from a pre-written script in a face-to-face interview, so you shouldn’t do that in a video interview either. Considering the interviewer can’t see your screen or your desk, you may be tempted to have multiple windows open or documents out just in case. But if you read canned answers out loud, you run the risk of sounding rehearsed instead of eloquent.
“Do not plan on referencing or relying on notes,” University of Massachusetts Global career coach Kathy Pellegrino advises. “If you have notes, they should be short and simple reminders that only require a quick glance.” Consider jotting down a few key points you want to mention, and practice working those into a conversation naturally.
You should also prepare questions to ask your interviewer. In an in-person meeting, you would normally tour the offices, meet other employees and get a general idea of the workplace environment. With virtual interviews, you won’t have that option, but it’s still important information to inquire about.
3. Test your technology setup
This is one of the most critical virtual interview tips. Take the time to test out your computer setup before the call. Having to troubleshoot internet issues in the first few minutes of your interview will only cause added stress.
Here are some tips to make sure it goes smoothly:
- Determine what platform you’ll be using and download or update it if you haven’t already.
- Restart your computer ahead of your interview.
- Make sure you know how to mute and unmute your microphone.
- Have your computer fully charged or plugged in for the interview.
Keep in mind that even if you check and test everything to the best of your ability, something could still go wrong. If that happens, remember this advice from Curameng: “Don’t panic if things go awry — it happens and is a natural risk whenever you use technology.”
4. Set the stage
One benefit of a virtual interview is that you have much more control over your environment. Instead of stressing over transportation and worrying about arriving at someone’s office, you can set up your space on your own time.
Keep in mind some of the following tips:
- Choose a quiet space and remove any unsightly clutter that is in camera view.
- Showcase your personality if you feel it’s advantageous. If you have plants, décor or a gallery wall of art that you’re proud of, set up your shot to highlight these examples of your unique style.
- Diminish distractions. Consider keeping pets in a different room and informing roommates about the timing of your interview.
- Make sure your lighting is good. Natural light from a window is preferable. Otherwise, set up a lamp or other light source behind your computer (placing it behind you will create a shadowy effect).
5. Know your angles.
After you set your scene, do a test run on the video platform you’ll be using for the interview. Here are some things to look out for:
- Check for glare. Is your computer screen so bright that it’s reflecting in your glasses? That might be distracting for the interviewer. Try adjusting your screen, moving farther away or wearing contacts if you feel comfortable.
- Play around with the distance between your chair and the computer. You don’t want your head looking like a dot in the distance, but you also don’t want to look zoomed in.
- A good proportion to aim for is a small space above your head in frame and the tops of your shoulders visible.
6. Dress for success
It is important to dress in a way that makes you feel confident, comfortable and professional for a job interview — video is no exception. Even if you’re interviewing from your kitchen, you want to appear as formal as you would be at an in-person interview.
Among work-from-home professionals, the debate about having to dress up “only on top” (i.e., what is visible on camera) is ongoing and divisive. To be safe, you should dress to impress from head to toe for video interviews because you won’t regret making the effort. If something goes wrong — if your computer tilts unexpectedly or falls mid-interview — you don’t want to be caught with pajama pants or basketball shorts in view.
7. Remember, it’s just a conversation
At the end of the day, a video interview is really just a conversation between you and the interviewer. Their task is to determine whether your skills and experience are a good match for the job. Your goal is to learn more about the opportunity and decide if the role and the company align with your goals. Both parties have to come to the conversation well-prepared and willing to listen and discuss.
Conquer your next video interview
The video interview tips outlined above should help you feel ready to sit down in front of that screen. Once you’ve done your prep, your space is set up and your technology is running smoothly, all you need to do is let your personality shine through.
When all goes well and you land that new job, make sure you are stepping into the role with your best foot forward. Set yourself up for success by exploring our article “Professionalism in the workplace: A guide for effective etiquette.”
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