8 Steps to Mastering Your Next Video Interview
With Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and FaceTime now readily available on a multitude of devices, the long-held promise of videoconferencing has finally arrived. The iconic scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey is no longer a fantasy. No, you may not be able to spend the night in a space hotel, but video phones are here, and they’re here to stay. Which means you may find yourself conducting a video interview in the near future. If that’s a new experience for you, here are eight tips to help you nail your interview.
1. Do a Video Interview Trial Run
Before your video interview, make sure that you complete at least one trial run to work out all the bugs. Test your connection, ensure your audio and video is functioning properly, and review subjective things like body language and your surroundings. Consider having a friend or family member ask sample questions, and provide you with tips and constructive criticism afterwards. Perhaps most importantly, conduct your video interview over a reliable Wi-Fi network if possible. Though 5G technology will eventually allow us to make video calls over the air with as much ease as Wi-Fi, you probably don’t want to take that risk now – not for this, anyway!
2. Dress Professionally for the Video
A video interview is no excuse not to dress nicely. Dress just as you would if you were interviewing in person. Though dress codes are continually becoming more lax, across industries and regions, there’s something to be said about earning the privilege of “dressing down.” Remember, even if your interviewers are dressed casually, you’re not employed yet. Wait until after you’ve been hired and had an opportunity to ingratiate yourself with the team before you start taking advantage of any perks – such as a lax dress code.
3. Make Sure You’re Well Lit in the Video
Think of your video interview as a mini television production. Even though you may have little to no experience with audio-video equipment, you’re still going to be judged by your audience (your interviewers) on the quality of your work. Rule number one is making yourself visible to the parties on the other side of the screen. That means using proper lighting. There are many factors to consider. If there is a window behind you, for example, you will be backlit during your interview, meaning your face will be in shadow. If this is the case, have a lamp on hand to provide fill lighting. Whatever you do, make sure that people can see you!
4. Record Your Video Interview in a Quiet Space
Don’t conduct your job interview at Starbucks, no matter what you do. You want to make sure that you are interviewing in a quiet space, so that the interviewers can hear you – and you can hear them. Of course, these are the practical reasons for interviewing some place quiet. The other concern is professionalism. If you Skype into your video interview from a noisy coffee shop or crowded train car, you give off the impression of not taking the interview seriously (see Step #8). Don’t make that mistake.
5. Avoid Distracting Backgrounds
In addition to interviewing in a quiet space, you should interview in front of a quiet background. Single color backdrops are best, though some pattern is acceptable, so long as it isn’t overbearing. White walls, wood panels, brick fireplaces… anything simple and discreet will do. Just make sure that your clothes are suitably contrasted by the background. If the walls are stark white, it’s probably best to avoid all-white clothing.
6. Position the Camera Properly
When it comes to camera placement, think back to the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” You want it to be just right. Not too low. Not too high. Any camera position that frames your body from the chest up, at eye level and a right angle, is ideal. The camera should not be looking up towards your chin or down at your forehead. Likewise, the camera shouldn’t be so close that your face takes up the entire screen, nor so far away that you can see a significant portion of your surroundings. Again, position your camera so that it’s just right. And if at all possible, conduct your interview from a laptop or desktop computer, not your smartphone, to help ensure proper framing.
7. Behave as You Would in Person
You may be slightly nervous, which is to be expected. Job interviews are a big deal, and the outcome of the interview could have a significant impact on your life. But don’t let the video aspect of your interview make you more nervous. Treat your video interview as you would a normal interview. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to introduce some levity into the proceedings if the mood suits you. Answer questions honestly, including those you may not have good answers to. And be courteous, respectful, and professional. Behave just as you would in any other interview – the only difference is that this interview is over video.
8. Take the Interview Seriously
Finally, take your video interview seriously. If you can’t be bothered to treat a job interview with respect, how can you be expected to treat a job with respect? Put forth your best effort and it will shine through; put in a half-hearted effort, and that will be even more apparent. Interviewers want to see enthusiastic, engaging, capable people who are genuinely interested in the opportunity at hand. Not just because you will be relied upon to perform a task, but also because these very people will have to work with you day in a day out, week after week. That factors into consideration. To ace your video chat interview, remember one rule of thumb: do your best.