7 Tips for Video Interviews

2020 certainly taught us how to live life behind the lens of a video conferencing camera. So while you’ve probably become comfortable on camera over the past year, a job interview can bring a new level of pressure. How should you prepare for a conversation with your potential next employer when an in-person meeting isn’t possible? Today we’ve got a few video-specific tips to keep in mind so you can nail your next interview.

Test the System

Long before the interview, make sure you know how to use the technology. If the company uses an unfamiliar platform, run a test with a friend to learn how the system works. Even if you’ve been taking video calls for the past year, you’ll want to test the sound and video again with a before go-time to ensure it’s crystal clear.

If you think you’ll need to share your screen, make sure you know which buttons to click on that platform, and which screen you will share. Don’t forget to clean up your tabs or bookmarks!

Check Your Background

After a year of video calls with coworkers, family members, and friends, you might be visually numb to what’s residing behind you in your workspace. Now’s the time to tidy the space behind your camera. Any extra clutter, even outside the frame, will only add distractions and take away the focus from you and your conversation.Your background is another aspect to test with a friend: every platform has a slightly different aspect ratio, and in your test run, you’ll see what actually appears on screen.

Practice, Record, Watch

In the days of in-person interviews, you would conduct mock interviews with friends at a desk or coffee shop. Now, it’s wise to practice with someone in another room, and an even better idea to record the meeting to review later. Notice these specific elements about your video interview as you watch the replay:

Eye Contact & Hand Gestures

Eve contact is tricky on video, but it’s possible. When you have the interviewer on screen, move their window as close to your webcam as possible. That way, when you’re looking at them, you will be looking at the camera as best as you can.

Hand gestures may also be problematic on video. You want to appear natural, but the camera might freeze your movement if the connection speed slows down. Keep each gesture professional and intentional.

Outfit Check

In your practice run, make sure your outfit looks as good on camera as it does in person. Always dress professionally (from head to toe!), but your outfit shouldn’t be distracting. Remember that some stripes and patterns may be difficult for the camera to capture clearly, so solid colors might be best. And of course, wear real pants, even for a video interview.

Too many notes?

You should also practice your use of notes during a video interview. While it may be tempting to have a lot of notes around your computer but outside the camera’s view, all those notes could be more trouble than they’re worth. They may keep you from being conversational and could lengthen an awkward silence as you search for an answer. Instead, use one page of notes if necessary and focus on being present during the interview. If you need notes, practice with them ahead of time.

Prepare for Interruptions

Of course, you’ll tell your family or roommates to be silent during the interview, but sometimes you can’t avoid construction on the street or your neighbor’s dog barking. If possible, tell the interviewer from the beginning that there might be some background noise, then just ignore it when it happens. If it becomes disruptive, simply place yourself on mute for a minute until it stops. Having a plan and addressing interruptions at the beginning will make you less nervous when they happen.

Make Small Talk

For an in-person interview, you would walk to and from the interview room with a few moments for small talk with less pressure. If the interviewer seems approachable, you can still chat lightly before they signal with “Ok, let’s get started,” or something similar. Always stay professional but allow for a few minutes to get to know each other.

Keep Your Facial Expressions Engaged

Without the body language you would have at an in-person interview, it’s even more critical to keep your expression engaged at all times. Depending on the platform and microphone settings, verbal signals may cut off their sentence. Instead, nod and make eye contact in order to show that you’re listening.

Be Yourself

While video interviews are just as important as in-person interviews, they occur inside your home and should be slightly more comfortable or personal than the office alternative. Because building a connection is more difficult over video, being conversational and friendly is more important than ever.

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