Man having a video call with a woman in his laptop.

3 Steps to a Great Video Interview

Eric Ciechanowski
By Eric Ciechanowski
Last Updated: September 10, 2020
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You finally set up a job interview. Great! There’s just one wrinkle: it’s a video interview. Using videoconferencing technology, such as Skype, Webcam or Facetime, you’ll be able to interview face-to-face with your potential employer, even though you might be separated by hundreds of miles. What are some things you can do to ensure you make this your best video interview? Check out these video interview tips that can help you have a successful experience.

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How to Video Interview – Preparation

Just as you would prepare for a face-to-face job interview (and any recruiter or hiring manager will stress that a video job interview be treated exactly like an in-person interview), you’ll need to do some prep work before you go on a video job interview.

“Test out your video software and connection a few days prior to the interview,” says Kat Haselkorn, Director of Content for Go Fish Digital. “Make sure your computer has a functional camera and a decent connection by doing a practice video call with a friend or family member.” James Kemper, president of W.H. Meanor & Associates, adds that whomever you’re doing this mock session with should have “real-world experience” and “can provide a good critique…you need constructive and honest criticism.”

Get comfortable using the video chat software you’re using so that you don’t have to make adjustments or fumble around with it at the time of your interview. You should also practice looking into the camera and not at your computer screen. This will ensure that you’re making eye contact with your interviewer and not looking off to one side.

Finally, good preparation involves doing a little research on the company and your interviewer, just as you would before a live interview. Check out the company’s website and see if your interviewer has a profile on the site.

Once you’ve done all the tech and other necessary prep work, you’re ready for your video job interview!

How to Video Interview – Going Live

Okay, so the day is here. You’re ready to have your best interview video you can possibly have. Below you’ll find some things you will need to do to pull it off and hopefully land that dream job.

First, it’s all about location, location, location. Every interviewer will tell you that you must choose your location wisely. From lighting (not too much or too little) to a place free from noise and distractions, it’s important to select a good background for your online interview.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held a video interview and I’ve seen a pile of dirty clothes or a conveniently placed encyclopedia lying on the table in the background,” states Sam Williamson, hiring manager for Flying Scot Glasgow. “Pay attention to what is in the background…and don’t try to create an artificial background to make yourself seem more interesting or intelligent.”

It helps to turn off your cell phone and silence the ringer on your house phone. Any potential distractions or noises should be eliminated before the interview starts. And don’t hold your interview at a Starbucks or anywhere with traffic noises in the background!

Be aware of the delay that’s often present in a video interview. This is where your practice will come in handy. Answer each question and wait patiently while your interviewer responds and asks the next question. There will be a moment or two of silence during the delay – it might seem awkward but it’s really not. Don’t try to fill that silence or you and the interviewer will wind up talking over one another.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Dress appropriately. Some people suggest that you’ll only need to dress in appropriate business attire from the waist up, as that’s all that will be seen on a video interview, but many disagree. “I advise against that,” Kemper explains. “It’s mindset and attitude you want to portray.” Nancee Long, communications strategist for Chartwell Agency, further explains, “Even a small shift in your seat could result in showing off your favorite pajama bottoms and nobody will like that.”
  • Be on time, just as you would for a live interview.
  • Sit straight and look directly at the interviewer. Body language is important for an online interview just as it is imperative during a face-to-face meeting.
  • Place any notes at eye level so that you won’t be looking down during the interview.

Making a Connection During an Online Interview

While of course a technical connection in an online interview is crucial, that’s not the only kind of connection that needs to be made.

Technology often makes it difficult to make a personal connection with someone. In a live interview, you can shake hands and make eye contact more easily. Still, it’s an important part of a video interview and should be striven for.

“While you may be separated by computers, you still have to try to make a personal connection with the interviewer,” says Michele Mavi, Director of Internal Recruiting and Content Development at Atrium Staffing. “Building rapport may be more difficult but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. This is not a question and answer session, it’s still a conversation and should feel like one.”

“Bring your A game!” she adds.