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6 Vital Tips to Ace a Video Interview

Jennifer Birtles 2nd Jul 2020 3 Comments

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Over 60% of hiring managers and recruiters use video interviews at some point during the recruitment process. It also shows that many employers plan on using video interview options more frequently in the future to help speed up the recruitment process and save valuable time and money that is spent on face to face interviews.

If video interviews seem daunting to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Acing any interview comes with practice – basically the more interviews you have the more comfortable you’ll be with them and also the more successful you’ll be. Video interviews are a little different to in-person ones, too – and something many of us aren’t very familiar with yet.

However, these are our starting tips on how to have a successful video interview and impress a prospective employer.

Nail Your Set-Up

Ace a video interview by stopping distractions and avoiding messy backgrounds

If you’re completing a video interview you want to make sure your setup looks and sounds professional and avoids any unwanted distractions.

Check your software

Ask what software the interview will be conducted on and get to grips with it before the interview. You don’t want to have any last minute problems trying to get the camera to work so whether it’s Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts make sure you’ve had some time to practice first.

Look at what they can see in your background

Opt for a simple background, ideally a plain wall or something with minimal detail so it doesn’t cause any distractions. Check that there’s nothing in frame that might look anything less than professional. Try to avoid custom Zoom backgrounds for now – you want to come across as professional!

Align your camera

Make sure your webcam is at eye level and you’re not looking down into it. Stack your laptop on something stable if needs be to ensure you get the right angle and aren’t looking down into the camera, which is never flattering.

Check your lighting

Lighting yourself well immediately makes it look more professional. The ideal set-up for this is to have one light on either side of you and just higher than the camera. This way your face will be lit nicely without casting heavy shadows over you.

Try to sit in front of a window instead of having one behind you, too. This helps the camera focus on you and brings out the detail in your face, instead of causing shadows.

Test your audio

Use headphones to minimise any unwanted background noise being picked up. Check your microphone too, to make sure your voice comes through crisp and clear.

Eliminate all Distractions

The last thing you want is someone bursting in on your interview when you’re trying to conduct yourself professionally. If you live with other people, politely ask if they can make themselves scarce during the time of your interview. When that’s not viable, ask them to be as quiet as possible. If you have young children, arrange for additional child care that day so you don’t have any little ones running into shot.

You’ll also want to silence your phone or turn it off altogether, put a note on your door asking no one to ring the bell, make sure you have no other internet tabs open or pop ups that may interrupt you, and make sure your door and windows are closed.

Dress for Success

How you present yourself for a video interview is just as important as if you were meeting face-to-face. Remember that you want to give a professional first impression and knowing how to dress suitably for the camera will help you here.

  • Avoid wearing lots of white as it’ll show up too bright on camera.
  • In the opposite way, avoid wearing too much black as the camera will alter the image to compensate and your face will appear washed out.
  • Avoid wearing very bright colours and bold patterns as they’re distracting and will detract from the focus of the interview.
  • Pastel and neutral colours are your safe option, a light blue for instance will look professional but will also look good on camera.
  • You don’t have to wear a load of make-up if you don’t want to but a little translucent powder on your face will mean light will bounce off your face nicely and reduce any sheen.
  • Even if only your top half will be on display make sure you’re fully dressed – you don’t want to be caught off guard.
  • Additional research for interviews has found that wearing shoes has a positive psychological effect on you that helps you feel prepared so we advise wearing them for your interview too!

Have a Cheat Sheet

A benefit of a video interview is that your interviewer can only see what’s behind you. If you’re feeling particularly nervous or have some key points you want to make sure you mention but are at risk of forgetting, create a little cheat sheet for yourself and stick it to your computer screen. You might not even need it but it’s there if you want to refer to it and knowing that is sure to instil a little comfort.

Check beforehand though that this doesn’t affect your eye line though. You don’t want it to look odd if your eyes keep flitting to the side. So, film yourself practicing and check whether it looks natural or not.

Practice Makes Perfect

The best way to perfect your interview skills is to practice as much as possible. There are loads of resources online, in particular LinkedIn, where you can find common interview questions to practice and get as prepared as you can.

Spend time before your interview doing as much research about the company you’re applying for so you don’t make any silly mistakes during the process. It also helps if you can ask a few intelligent questions at the end that show you’re interested in learning more about the role and business.

Have your friends and family carry out practice interviews with you. It may feel a little odd but the more you put yourself into an interview-style scenario the more comfortable you will become with it. This is also a great way to get an outsider’s perspective on how you conduct yourself in an interview. Did they notice you fidget too much or are you looking down a lot? You can’t correct it unless you know about it.

Don’t Be Afraid of Real Life

You can do all of the preparation above for your video interview, but things can still happen. Unlike a controlled office environment, you never quite know what’s going to happen when you’re at home. The postman might have a delivery for you – so the doorbell goes (despite your note asking them not to). The builders next door could decide right then to start drilling into your shared wall. Or, your cat decides it really wants attention and climbs all over your computer (hogging the camera). Perhaps you’re a parent and the idea of your child bursting in to take part in your interview fills you with dread.

The thing is this: life happens. And, with so many public television interviews proving this lately, it’s OK to have a sense of humour about it. The politician who carried on giving his interview despite having a cat on his shoulders is one ideal example. Just carry on! If there’s an issue, like someone at the door, acknowledge it, apologise, deal with it if you have to, then continue. The people interviewing you are all in (or have recently been in) the same situation as you as working from home was the norm during lockdown. That means there’s a newfound understanding of the way life can sometimes throw the unexpected at you – no matter how unprofessional it seems!

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3 years ago

Great tips for setting for you interview.

3 years ago

Online interview is the way forward, even interviewers are practicing conducting this as myself has done it.

3 years ago

Sometimes it’s the little things that differentiate you from other candidates. Helpful article.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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