Tips for Video Interviews

12 May 2020

By Jeff Paul

Tips for Video Interviews

While we are operating under safer at home conditions many employers have moved job interviews from in-person to video interviews. If you have never done a video interview or even if you have some experience here are some helpful tips to make the interview go smoothly and make sure you present yourself professionally.

Choose your location

A quiet room away from others in the household is where you want to be.

Choose your device

You don't have to have a fancy web camera (and they're sold out online right now anyway), your phone, tablet or laptop will do fine.  If you're using your phone or tablet make sure you use a stand or otherwise secure the device so that it doesn't move during the call even if you bump the table or desk it's on during the call.

Headphones

If the sound and microphone on your computer are insufficient it is ok to wear headphones. It is more important to hear and be heard clearly than to worry about how the headphones may look.

Test your setup

Whatever device you use test it before your interview to work out any kinks. Know what platform you'll be using (Skype, Zoom, Facetime, etc.) and install and test any apps you'll need ahead of time. You may need to give the app permission to access your device's camera and microphone, do this ahead of time. If you are using a personal account on the video conferencing service make sure that you have a professional username, not an inside joke or family nickname.

Check your lighting

You want to be in a well-lit place, natural light looks best on camera, avoid backlight, a light source such as a window behind your position. That will make you appear in silhouette on camera.

Camera angle

Arrange your camera so that it's at or slightly above your eye-level.  Shooting up at your face is a poor angle and you won't look as good.

Watch your background

A few weeks ago a local news channel did a video interview with a hairstylist about how she was impacted by safer at home conditions. The hair products on the bathroom counter were a thematically appropriate background for the interview, the reflection in the mirror of her husband in the shower was less so.  Pay attention to what or who may appear in the background of your interview.

How to dress

Dress as you would for an in-person interview. If a suit is appropriate then wear a suit, and while it may be funny to joke with your friends about not wearing pants during a happy hour zoom call, but if for any reason you need to stand up during the interview that won't be funny.

Reduce distractions

Turn off the ringer on your phone, close any other applications or browser tabs. Have what you need at hand. Have a copy of your resume, a pen and notepad, a glass of water, and whatever else you may need on the desk.

Deal with unavoidable distractions

If something comes up at home that you have to deal with immediately do not disconnect from the video service. Apologize for the distraction, turn off your camera and microphone, and remove the distraction before turning them back on.  Deal with the distraction as quickly as possible.

Be natural

In the era of selfies and social media we are more used to being on camera than ever before, but it may still feel unnatural. Keep your eyes on the screen or your desk when you're taking notes. Nod and smile when the other person is speaking to let them know you are engaged in the conversation.  Practice video calls ahead of time with friends or family members so you're comfortable being on camera.

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