Virtual interviews are now a common part of the hiring process, but they can make people nervous. The thought of being recorded is often why people hang up instead of leaving a phone message. A recorded voice is a step beyond one-dimensional emailing or texting, and a recorded video is one step further still.
But, don’t worry! With a little preparation, video interviews can actually be much less stressful than in-person interviews.
Here are some tips to ace your next virtual interview.
When preparing for the interview, you’ll want to consider: the hardware you’ll be using, the location where you’ll record the video, and the way you present yourself on camera. It helps to know what you’re getting into beforehand, so first find out if the interview will be live or pre-recorded.
In live video interviews, you’re interviewed by one or more people face-to-face without being in the same room (similar to Skype, Zoom or Facetime). In pre-recorded interviews (also known as one-way or on-demand interviews), you’ll be shown questions one at a time and then you’ll record your answers solo. The recruiter will receive a notification once you’ve completed the recorded interview, signaling it’s ready for review.
The last thing you need is technical difficulties during your interview. To complete your interview, you will need: a laptop, desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone. Whatever hardware you decide to use, make sure it has a built-in, functional webcam and microphone.
Some digital interviewing systems will send you a test page to run on your device before starting the interview, but it can be as easy as Skyping a friend to test the video and sound on your computer before your interview takes place.
If you hear an echo when testing the sound (this is common in large, open spaces) you can either find a different room to perform your interview, or use a headset or earbuds with a microphone. The microphone will limit the amount of echoing in the room, picking up only the sounds closest to it.
This should go without saying, but perform these tests with enough time to find an alternative if your hardware doesn’t work.
You will also need a reliable internet connection for your interview. Having multiple devices or users on the same internet connection can slow down internet speed, interrupting video quality or sound during the interview. Use an internet connection that doesn’t have too many users connected to it.
You should also make sure you have any other software or tabs which aren’t related to the interview closed so the device you’re using can focus all its power on the video interviewing software.
Stay focused. You don’t want to distract the interviewer and you definitely don’t want to lose your train of thought while answering a question. So, before the interview begins, turn off all notifications on your phone and/or computer. Set your phone to the Do Not Disturb function and disable any notifications that pop up on your computer screen.
See if the company has a dress code you can abide by, or play it safe and go with traditional business attire. Even if you position the webcam so it only shows your head and shoulders, a recruiter will still notice if you’re wearing an old university sweater to your interview. Dress for the job you want—from head to toe. You never know when you might have to stand up to reveal your full attire.
Before the interview begins, lock all your pets out of the room and tell people around you what you’ll be doing so they know not to interrupt you until it’s over.
You want the recruiter or hiring manager to see you clearly, so make sure you complete the interview in a well-lit area. If the picture looks dark, you should move to a brighter location, or add lighting by turning on lamps or opening curtains.
Anything in the frame that isn’t your face can be a distraction for anyone watching your interview. A pile of clothes on the floor or a messy desk may make you look unorganized and unprofessional. To ensure the focus stays on you, choose a location with your back to a blank wall. If the wall behind you is a light color, this will reflect more light than dark walls, illuminating your face for the interviewer.
Shakiness is a distraction for hiring managers, so don’t hold the device in your hand throughout the interview. Instead, position your device on a stand so it will remain steady during the entire series of questions.
Even though you’re doing a video interview, eye contact is still important. Most webcams are positioned at the top of a screen, so staring directly at the screen can make it look as though you’re looking down or have your eyes closed. This doesn’t exactly scream confidence. When speaking, look at the webcam instead of the screen.
The best way to get comfortable is by practicing. You can practice recording yourself on your own, do mock interviews with friends and family, or simply practice in front of a mirror.
The #1 piece of advice we can offer for acing your next video interview is this: act like you would in any interview! Be professional, smile and use open body language. Video interviewing is a great opportunity to showcase your personality and the “soft skills” that aren’t always evident in a text-based resume or CV. It’s also great practice for when you land an in-person interview.
Best of luck!