Top Video Interview Tips to Help You be Successful

It goes without saying, but technology has made communication so much simpler for us these days. Rather than simply calling our loved ones, we can use video technology to see them while we speak. Professionally, the same feature has made it possible for remote employees to attend meetings — and for face-to-face interviews to take place across any distance.

No matter how used to this type of technology we are, though, the thought of a video interview can be daunting. It’s one thing to put on a brave face for an in-person interview, but a conversation conducted virtually has its unique set of challenges.

To make your next video interview a bit easier, you can prepare in advance with the following video interview tips. They cover pre-interview prep, as well as the way you should video-interview as it’s happening.

Video Interview Tips: Before the Interview

You can set yourself up for success by following these video interview tips prior to your interview:

  1. Conduct a Test Run

Long before your interviewer calls, you should make sure all of your video chat-related technology is up and running. Dial up a loved one to ensure you have a good Internet connection and that they can hear and see you well.

There’s nothing worse than starting an interview and end up having technical difficulties midway through, so do all you can to ensure your system’s ready to go when you are.

  1. Choose a Neutral Backdrop

An office-based interview gives you the neutral backdrop you need to focus the conversation on you — right where it should be. At home, though, it’s a little harder to find a spot where you’ll be the center of attention.

Obviously, you’ll start by selecting a space that’s quiet and private — let anyone in your house know you’re interviewing, so no one interrupts. Then, narrow down your backdrop by avoiding walls with windows, lots of artwork or other knickknacks that would draw attention away from the conversation. Make sure any other visible spaces, such as your desk, are clutter-free, too.

  1. Adjust the Camera

You’ve already tested the video quality, but make sure you know the camera’s angle before you sit down for your interview. The screen should show you from the waist or chest up — otherwise, you’ll just look like a talking head. Plus, by keeping your shoulders in the frame, you’ll be able to show a bit more positive body language.

  1. Dress the Part

Even though you’re not conducting your interview in person, you’ll still be visible to your interviewer. Once you know how much of your body will be shown via webcam, choose an outfit that will project your professionalism across a virtual connection.

Your pants may not show, but make sure they are also professional and pressed so you feel your best.

  1. Calm Your Nerves

Before you log onto the video stream, do your best to calm down so you can act natural and breeze through the interview. Everyone will find different mechanisms for coping with the stress — you might exercise, meditate or practice answering questions in front of a mirror. No matter what it takes, do it before you begin your session so that you’re cool and collected.

Video Interview Tips: During the Interview

With your pre-interview process complete, it’s time for the real deal. Put these video interview tips into motion to help it be successful:

  1. Make Eye Contact

Your instinct during your video interview will likely to be to look at the screen where you see your interviewer’s face. But this isn’t necessarily where to look if you want to make direct eye contact with them — or, as direct as a video chat allows. Instead, you should look at the camera so that you appear to be looking straight at your interviewer, who will note your confidence with this small gesture.

Of course, it might feel strange to not look at the face of your interviewer, so find a happy medium. If you’re on your computer, drag the video chat window directly beneath the camera so that your eyes are fixated as close to the camera as possible. Most importantly, don’t let your gaze flit off into the corners of the screen. Close any tabs or windows that might cause a distraction during your conversation.

  1. Smile Naturally

A plastered-on smile for the duration of your interview isn’t quite the look you’re going for, but you shouldn’t hide your pearly whites, either. Smile just enough to present yourself as the confident, easy-going employee you are. A happy demeanor will show you’re easy to work with, too, which is a great vibe to give off in an interview.

  1. Don’t Fidget

The above behaviors present you as confident, but fidgeting around will negate both of them. Nearly everyone has a habit that comes out when they’re feeling nervous, whether they play with their hair or constantly or tap a pen on the table. Rein in any sort of tick you might have before you get on camera — a mock interview can help you pinpoint the actions you should stop before the real thing.

To that end, you should also stop yourself from repeating any filler words that become repetitive. Starting each answer with “umm” or filling blanks with “like” will show that you’re nervous and may even give the impression you’re unprepared. Again, practicing answers or conducting a mock interview before the big day could help cut down on the verbal fidgeting. Don’t be afraid to take a pause to think before speaking so you can articulate your answer.

Start Rolling

Mastering the art of video interviewing will make you an even more formidable force as you seek your next job. Once you’ve followed the above video interview tips, all that’s left to do is let the camera roll.

How did you conquer your video interview? Share your best video interview tips in the comments below. Also, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, which will keep you up to date with all the work-related tips, tricks and skills you need to succeed before and after you nail that interview.


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Photo: Shutterstock / Andrey Popov

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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