When you think of a job interview, you may see yourself dressed in professional clothing and showing up to an office, sitting directly in front of an interviewer — or a panel of interviewers — and answering the questions they have for you.
This vision of a job interview no longer aligns with reality. While many job interviews are still conducted in person, an increasing percentage of them are now being done online. For your next interview, you may be asked to participate in a videoconference, instead of showing up in person to discuss your skills and what qualifies you for the job.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss the basics of videoconferences, why they are used, and explore the best tips to help you thrive in your next online job interview.
Why Do Employers Use Video Interviews?
Employers use video interviews for a few reasons. Video interviews allow a business to interview anyone for a position, irrespective of their location. This means that even if you are based in a different location than the position for which you are applying, the business will still be able to talk to you. This means the employer is always able to talk with the best talent.
Employers also use video interviews if the job being advertised is remote. Over the last few years, working remotely has become significantly more popular. If you are applying for a remote job, you may not even be in the same country as the business for which you want to work. Video interviews allow a business to talk with talent from all around the world, and fill in a remote position without having to meet with anyone in-person.
How to Prepare for a Video Interview
In both in-person and video interviews, you will be asked a series of questions that will help an employer evaluate whether you have the skills necessary to fill a position. However, there are a few subtleties you will need to prepare for before your video interview begins.
Here are a few tips you should follow to prepare for your video interview:
Tip #1: Consider your surroundings
In a traditional interview, you don’t have to worry about your surroundings: you will be interviewed in a business office. If you are participating in a video interview, you will not have this luxury.
Before your interview begins, give some thought to where you are going to conduct the interview. Are you going to take the interview call in your bedroom? Or do you have a green screen set up that you use for calls?
Wherever you choose, you should make sure the area is clean and tidy. The cleaner your surroundings are, the more organized you will look in your interview. Also, keep in mind that if you take your call in a cluttered environment, it’s easier to be distracted. The last thing you want in an interview is to spend all your time staring at a stack of books on your desk.
You should also make sure that your room is sufficiently lit. If your room is dark or dim, you may want to introduce a new light source — such as a lamp — to ensure that your face is clearly visible on the video call.
Tip #2: Prepare your clothing
You should dress professionally for your video interview. While you may technically be able to get away with wearing sweatpants during your interview, it’s a good idea to get fully dressed. You should wear the same clothes that you would wear if you were going in for an in-person interview.
Wearing professional clothes will boost your confidence as you start your interview. It will also help you break free from the fact that you are at home — which is a place typically associated with relaxation — and put you in the right mindset for an interview.
Tip #3: Look at the camera (not your screen)
In an interview, body language is essential. If you always look away when answering a question, the interviewers may think you are constantly distracted.
During your video call, you should make sure that you look directly at the camera on your computer. This will allow you to maintain good eye contact with the interviewer on the other side of the call. You should avoid the temptation to look at the person who is interviewing you too much because they will see it as you looking down.
Tip #4: Eliminate potential distractions
The last thing you want to happen in your video interview is for your kid to walk in the room and start talking to you. Or for the sun to shine directly on your face, making it difficult for you to see. Or for your phone to go off and expose your The Simpsons ringtone.
Before your interview begins, consider what may present itself as a distraction. Are there any devices nearby? Are there any background noises that may impact your ability to focus? Removing these distractions beforehand will ensure that, during your interview, you can focus on what matters: answering the questions posed by your interviewer.
You should also remind everyone you live with that you are going to be on an interview. Do you really want to be the candidate who is only remembered for their roommate walking into the room with their pizza delivery?
Tip #5: Check out your tech
One of the biggest differences between video and in-person interviews is that in the latter no technical hiccup can completely derail an interview. You don’t have to worry about your internet connection dropping out, for example.
It is important that you spend some time checking out your tech before your video interview begins. Here are a few things you should consider while setting up your tech:
- Do you have the right software installed? If the interview is going to be conducted on Zoom, for instance, you may need to install the software upfront.
- Does your audio and video work correctly? It is a video interview — the interviewer will want to see and hear you clearly.
- Does your computer have sufficient access to power? If you are interviewing on a laptop, is it charged? If not, maybe you should keep it connected to a power source during your interview.
- Do you have a stable internet connection? Make sure that the place from which you are calling has a good internet connection, so that you are not disconnected during your interview.
Tip #6: Think about your body language
You may not be in the same room as your interviewer, but remember that they can still see you. If you slouch, stare in a different direction, and don’t smile, they will know about it.
When you are in your video call, maintain a good posture. Sit up straight, and keep your shoulders open. In addition, keep your feet flat on the floor, and ensure that your chair is adjusted according to your own preferences.
You should also avoid using hand movements too much in your interview. Hand movements are a good way to emphasize a point, but consider this: would you wave your hands around in a traditional, in-person job interview?
Tip #7: Do a dry run
One of the most common pieces of interview advice you’ll hear is “do a practice interview!” That advice applies just as much to a video interview as it does to an in-person interview.
Doing a dry run is a good way to test your equipment and identify any potential problems that you have yet to address. Ask a friend if they can participate in a short interview with you so that you can test your technology and revise your answers to common interview questions.
You may notice that your lighting is not good at a certain time of day, or that the angle of your webcam is off, and you will be able to make the necessary changes before your interview begins.
Tip #8: Don’t use notes too heavily
You can have as many notes open as you want during an interview. Assuming you play it cool, the interviewer may never know you were using notes.
If you think that having a few notes in front of you during your interview will be helpful, then you should prepare them in advance. However, you should avoid using your notes as a script for what you want to say.
Interviewers can usually tell if someone is reading an answer they have memorized (or, in the case of video interviews, written down). You don’t want to give the interviewer the impression that you are unable to respond thoughtfully to a question without notes.
Video interviews may be conducted in the comfort of your home, but they are still job interviews. You are going to be asked the same questions as in an in-person interview, and held to the same expectations.
When you are preparing for a video interview, think about it as though you were going to interview in-person. Wear the right clothes. Consider your body language. Don’t rely too much on notes, and do a dry run. You should also consider the unique aspects of video interviewing, such as the technology you are going to use and your surroundings.
By following the advice in this article, you’ll have no trouble preparing to make a lasting impression in your next video interview.