13 Video Interview Tips for a Job-Winning First Impression
by Haley Lyles
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have moved their employees to full-time work-from-home status to flatten the curve. According to LinkedIn, more than 50% of professionals in the U.S. are swapping in-person meetings for either phone or video calls. This trend has led to more companies not only working from home, but hiring from home as well. As college students graduate and laid off employees search for jobs, they may find themselves going through a process they’ve never experienced before—video interviewing.
Though this type of interviewing is similar to face-to-face or phone interviewing, there are still a few video interview tips that you should know before logging on. If you’re prepping for your on-screen interview, use this list of video interview tips to make a job-winning first impression.
1. Test Your Tech
The first step to preparing for a video interview is securing an appropriate device. You can use a laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone that has a working webcam and microphone. Set your device up in a quiet place without interruption from coworkers, family members or pets. If you don’t have access to an internet-enabled device, a great resource is your local public library. Try to reserve a private room or study space so that you won’t be interrupted.
One of the biggest ways that a video interview is different from a traditional interview is the interviewer and interviewee depend on an internet connection. Before the interview, it’s wise to fail-proof your connection. If you have a PC device, ensure that you will stay online with an ethernet cable instead of relying on WiFi. If you’re using a Mac or other device that doesn’t have an ethernet port, verify that your internet connection has a bandwidth speed of one megabit per second or more and prepare a backup device. You can set up a second laptop, a tablet or even a smartphone.
3. Close All Programs
After you check your connection, shut down all programs running on your device in the background. Large programs can slow down your computer and cause interruptions during your interview. To be sure that all programs are closed, restart your device before you sign on. If you would rather force quit your programs instead of restarting your computer, use these commands:
- Mac devices: Cmd + Alt + Escape
- PD devices: Ctrl + Alt + Delete
4. Decrease Distractions
It goes without saying that you should aim to remove all distractions from the room before an interview. This includes asking family members to refrain from entering the room, kennelling your pets, silencing your phone and closing doors and windows. Once you ensure these distractions are contained, look around the room for visual distractions. Will there be piles of laundry behind you or perhaps an unprofessional poster? Take care to remove anything that would pull your interviewer’s attention away from your interview.
5. Put Your Shoes On
Your video interview is not the time for the blazer on top, sweatpants on the bottom look. Though it’s unlikely that your interviewer will see the lower half of your body, you should always dress for an interview in head-to-toe professional wear. Not only will a nice outfit help you make a good first impression, dressing up for your interview can give you confidence and can help you focus.
For the best on-camera outfit, take a look at the company’s Instagram or LinkedIn to get a picture of its culture and dress one step above it. For example, if everyone is wearing casual clothing at work, wear business casual. Here are some additional tips:
- Pick a neutral-colored outfit that will allow you to shine.
- Avoid flashy jewelry that will distract interviewers.
- Choose ties and accessories that are solid colors or have a minimal pattern.
- Skip black, white and bold colors like red to avoid exposure issues with your webcam.
6. Familiarize Yourself With the Software
Every company has different preferences for video conferencing platforms. Some companies use Microsoft Teams for all internal communication and will use that for interviews, others will use Google Hangouts and increasingly more have started using Zoom. Once you receive the invitation to your virtual meeting, download the platform, create an account if necessary and familiarize yourself with it. If it’s your first time using it, watch some tutorials.
Zoom has seen major growth in popularity in the past six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform presents a customizable and user-friendly interface for interviewees to show the interviewer their work using screen share technology, as well as a host of other features.
- Dual screen sharing
- Customizable backgrounds
- Touch up appearance feature
This platform is one of the most advanced online conferencing programs available. Teams boasts features such as background blurring and background noise removal making it a great choice for interviewers in distracting settings such as coffee shops or college campuses.
- Background noise removal
- Blur background
- Easy file sharing
This platform offers free voice calls and messaging to anyone with a Google account, which is 44% of email users. Google’s speech-to-text system also allows for real-time captioning for those who are hard of hearing to ensure that it is accessible for a wide range of users.
- Real-time captioning
- Free voice calls and messaging
- Simple interface
7. Log on 10 Minutes Early
For a face-to-face interview, you should show up at least 15 minutes before your meeting time. Similarly, in a video interview, you should log on 10–15 minutes early in case something goes wrong. This will give you time to check your technology and get comfortable with the platform so you can focus on answering the questions.
8. Nail Your Digital Handshake
Nailing the handshake is one of the most important impressions you can make in a face-to-face interview. Though you won’t be able to make a physical connection with your interviewer, mastering the greeting is key to making a lasting impression on potential employers. To impress your interviewer, lean into greetings such as:
- “Good morning, it’s nice to meet you.”
- “How are you this afternoon?”
- “Thank you for setting up this meeting today.”
9. Virtual Eye Contact
According to interviewers, eye contact is one of the key things that they look for in an interview. Though video interviews put a virtual barrier between you and the interviewer, a few tips can help you make that connection. To simulate eye contact, concentrate on looking in the camera instead of looking at the screen. This can be a challenge, particularly if you can see your preview. If you’re having a hard time focusing on the camera, it can be helpful to hide the preview of yourself to remove the distraction.
10. Be Prepared
Now that your technology is set up, prepare the area around you for the interview. Grab a copy of your resume, a glass of water, a pen and a notebook with some prepared questions in case you get stumped. Interviewers typically ask a few standard questions to get a basic understanding of who you are and how prepared you are for the interview. Some classic interview questions are:
- What’s your greatest weakness?
- What’s your greatest strength?
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why should we hire you?
- What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
11. Add an Extra Second
Another challenge that video interviews present is video and audio lagging. To avoid cutting your interviewer off, take an extra second to pause after they ask a question to ensure they are finished. This will also give you a chance to gather your thoughts and formulate an answer that is well thought out.
12. Body Language
Body language is important in any interpersonal communication but it’s even more important in an interview when you’re being critiqued. Some good practices are:
- Lean in. Instead of sitting back, show interest and push forward.
- Use slow gestures. If you move your hands too quickly, it can create blurring across the screen.
- Nod occasionally. Take care to do so sparingly to let your interviewer know you are following along.
13. Practice Your Sign Off
In the same way that your virtual handshake is important, so is your virtual exit. Once your interviewer is finished with all of their questions and you have a chance to ask a few of yours, fight off any panic or awkwardness that arises. Wrap up the interview with a confident and gracious closing statement to leave them with a positive impression. Try saying something such as:
“Thank you for your time this afternoon. I really enjoyed meeting you and your team. It sounds like just the role I have been searching for because of my X experience. I am excited to hear from you soon.”
While face-to-face communication has its benefits, video interviewing allows the opportunity to put a face to their resume in a comfortable environment. Whether you’re a seasoned video interviewer or are getting ready for your first one, these tips will help you make a job-winning impression on your interviewer.