Tips on How to Ace Your Video Interview
Video interviews are no longer a novelty in the job search experience. Instead, they have become completely mandatory in most cases and the challenges that this can present to interviewer and interviewee alike are numerous. Over the past year, we have started to see a continued rise in video interviews now that they’ve become normalized. They’re convenient, don’t require a commute for the interviewee, and take less time and money overall to conduct.
But if video interviews are here to stay, it’s time to talk about how to set yourself up for success as a candidate! We’ve compiled a list of our top tips for nailing your next video interview based on decades of experience as recruiters.
Keep Your Background Neutral
One factor that has a big impact on how you are perceived by your interviewers – and luckily, one of the easiest things to control – is your backdrop. You want to ensure that the interviewer’s focus is completely on you and not on whatever is going on in the background. If possible, a blank wall and a shot that frames your head and shoulders is the best possible option.
If you’re not a “blank walls” kind of decorator, try to choose something sedate and calming. Maybe a shelf with succulents and a family photo behind you, or your certifications and diploma hanging on the wall. Busy shelves, loud colors, and intense artwork can all distract from the visual impact you make and keep the interviewer from paying as close attention to your answers as you’d like them to.
Regardless of the situation, you should always open your camera before the meeting and check to make sure everything looks good. Clear breakfast and toys off your desk, tidy up the room, and remove anything distracting from your line of sight so the interviewer doesn’t think you’re ignoring them.
Find a Good Camera Angle
Appearance isn’t everything, but first impressions tend to stick, so you want to make sure you’re presenting your best self during the interview process. Nothing is less attractive or more distracting than an undershot angle. No one wants to see up your nose or get distracted by your (perceived!) double chin. It makes you look unprofessional and your interviewer feel rude for noticing.
Place your webcam at the same height as the top of your head, then point it slightly downwards. This also forces you to sit up straight, which projects confidence and competence. Try not to use overhead lighting that casts deep shadows on your face as this can make your facial expressions difficult to read. It’s best to use a lamp on the desk nearby, or a ring light or other direct diffused lighting.
As with our previous tip, the best way to ensure a good angle and good lighting is to test it out beforehand. Try it out the day before your interview until you’re satisfied. And then give yourself at least 15 minutes before the interview starts to get settled and make adjustments as needed.
Check Your Sound Quality
The most important thing about your video interview is that your interviewer should be able to hear you. If they can’t understand your answers, they’re not going to get the full picture. If you have the funds, invest in a high-quality microphone. It doesn’t have to be professional-level podcasting equipment, but it should help decrease background noise and reduce tinniness so your voice can be clearly and easily understood.
Always test out your microphone beforehand and try to avoid distracting noises that the microphone may pick up on like shuffling papers, loud jewelry, and taping your foot anxiously. We know it’s not always fully under your control, but try to keep your children and your pets quiet and away from the door while you’re interviewing as well.
Dress the Part
It’s your home, but you should still dress professionally – we usually recommend business formal or business casual depending on the industry – for your interview. And dress ALL the way. No pajama bottoms under your blazer or bunny slippers with your suit. When you’re appropriately dressed, you will feel more confident and put together and that will come through in your presentation. Besides, you don’t want any embarrassing incidents should you have to jump up because you spilled your coffee or the kids are knocking.
Solid colors in neutral tones that complement your skin and hair color are best – navy blue, black, tan, brown, earth tones, etc. – but solid colors like yellow, red, and green can also make a positive impression. Prints tend to clutter the screen visually, but if you’re in a creative field, that can make a good conversation starter.
What’s most important is that you feel confident and professional.
Make Eye Contact
This is so important, but unfortunately, it can also be the most difficult tip to follow during a video interview. You don’t know where to look – the camera? their face? – and seeing your own face on the screen is incredibly distracting. And before you know it, you’re asking your interviewer to repeat the question instead of giving the answer you practiced for hours last night!
It’s best practice to watch the interviewer’s face while they are speaking. Don’t look down at your notes or off into space. Lean forward slightly to show that you’re engaged in what they have to say.
Personally, we hate watching ourselves talk – we understand how distracting it can be. Minimize your face’s screen as far as you can on your platform and if you can still see it, cover it with a little post-it note on the screen. This will keep you focused on the recruiter and help it feel a lot more like a normal, face-to-face interview.
Have a Dress Rehearsal
This is a lot to remember and you want to reduce your chances of “technical difficulties” as much as possible before your interview. So get fully dressed in your interview outfit (no eating or drinks that might spill and stain!), set up your angles and your lighting, check your mic connection, and then record yourself practicing answers to the common interview questions. Play that back for yourself and make adjustments as necessary.
If there is no record option on your platform, just watch yourself talk and move and observe the background and your environment. This exercise will help give you confidence for your interview and also eliminate as many snafus as possible.
If you’re looking for a new job, check out our Job Openings page + to see what’s available. Apex Staffing specializes in connecting talented job seekers with high-quality, local employers. Our service is completely free for job seekers and we are always accepting applications.