7 Ways to Prepare for a Video Interview

By Kurt In Interview Prep On September 9, 2020

Video interviews are here to stay.  Even though we’re all still getting used to it, and the circumstances that forced us into it aren’t great, video interviewing has the potential to be both very efficient, and very effective. It’s more personal and “real” than telephone interviewing and for obvious reasons, much more efficient and flexible than onsite interviewing. And while there are similarities to both other interview mediums, there are also important differences.

As a recruiter, I want to make sure all of my candidates are prepared so I came up with 7 things that will contribute to a quality video interview experience.

Number One – Cameras Don’t Lie: It is critically important to consider and TEST the environment from which you will conduct your half of the video interview.

Number Two – Is the interview area well lit? Lighting should be facing you but not directly so you’re not lit up too brightly – your interview is not an interrogation. You shouldn’t rely entirely on overhead lighting as it will create shadows below your eyes and nose that may distort your look somewhat or make you look tired.  Also, you should avoid locations where the light source is behind you, including windows, because a bright background will make you too dark.  The best lighting will come from a combination of sources and types (both incandescent and fluorescent). For example, an incandescent or fluorescent overhead light AND a table lamp placed in front of you with diffused incandescent or fluorescent light can be effective in providing both indirect and overall lighting. Outdoor lighting can be good but it might also be so bright that it you won’t be able to see the interviewer on your screen. It can also be unpredictable or there could be other distractions.

Number Three – Is it quiet? Microphones can pick up all sorts of background noises and other distractions that will take away from the quality of your interview conversation. It is very important to find a place where there will be no distractions or excess noise – both indoor and outdoor noise. It is also important to test your microphone and speaker settings to ensure that the sound quality is adequate and / or make adjustments if necessary.

Number Four – Is the background effective? A good background is one that allows the interviewer to focus on you during the interview and not be distracted by motion, noises, clutter or anything else that might appear behind you. This includes anything moving around, televisions, music, outdoor distractions, pets, kids, etc. – and even reflections or other potential disturbances or distortions that might affect video quality. Stand behind where the camera will be and review the “field of vision” before the interview. Make sure that the area is neat and uncluttered and that there are no visual or auditory distractions.

Number Five – What are you wearing? Let’s start with pants.  Again, unlike telephone interviews, it is important to keep in mind that your interviewer will see you! A video interview should be treated like an onsite interview in terms of dress; including business shirts, suits or a jacket if necessary, ties, a skirt, and yes, slacks! The impression you make on a video interview is similar to the impression you make in person. Check your appearance and consider what you want the interviewer to see and experience.

Number Six – Check your body language and posture: Like an onsite interview, a video interview also presents an opportunity for you to make a good physical impression. The body language you convey will have an impact. That means that you need to create eye contact, lean into the conversation, demonstrate enthusiasm physically, mirror your interviewers style, maintain an energetic and alert posture and treat the conversation as if it is taking place in person and you want to make the best possible impression.

Number Seven – Stay focused: Even though this is not an onsite interview, remember that your interviewer can see what you’re doing at all times. Assume that they are in the room with you and don’t do anything other than what you would do if they really were in the room with you. This includes any distracting activities like checking email, looking at your phone, or anything other than participating in the interview.

Never forget that this is a job interview and that everything you know about job interviews applies here too!

Kurt Schmidt is the author of “Modern Job Search” and the President of Converging Point, an executive search firm focused on supply chain and strategic sourcing jobs in manufacturing and energy. 

Photo: Tarifa, Spain 


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