While in-person job interviews are still common, many interviews are held via video meeting or over the phone, especially in the initial stages of a hiring process. Virtual interviews are similar to in-person interviews in many ways, but they also have important differences. To shine in a video interview, learn about the methods, and try some of these important pointers.
How do video and recorded interviews work?
- The employer will e-mail a video conference link, text a phone number to call, or simply schedule a time when they will contact you using a video conference or audio conference system. For video calls, typically you and the interviewer will be able to see each other.
- Pre-recorded video interviews: The pre-recorded interview is gaining broader use. You will be instructed to record your voice or video answers to interview questions provided by the employer. Recordings are later reviewed by a human resources staff member, so while it may be awkward at the time, it’s important to convey the same energy and enthusiasm you would if speaking to a live person. One advantage: If you feel that your answers could be improved on, you may be able to re-record your responses before submitting them.
Prepare your environment and equipment
One of the major differences with a video interview is that, typically, you are in your own home rather than the interviewer’s office. That means you need to rely on your own equipment, can be interrupted by roommates, family members, or pets, and that whatever is behind you and in the computer camera’s scope may be visible to the interviewer. Keep these points in mind:
- For most video interviews, you will need a laptop or desktop computer with audio and video capability, stable Internet service, and a quiet space to meet. If you need computer equipment and/or private meeting space, your local American Job Center may be able to help, and your local library may also have space you can reserve for an interview.
- Choose a room that is quiet and does not have background sound – even loud HVAC can be very hard to hear over. Remind everyone in your household to not disturb the interview.
- The space should be clean and professional looking; avoid having open closet doors, piles of clothing or papers, or other distractions in your background. Remember you can blur the background.
- Test out lighting: check to make sure your interviewer will be able to see you clearly at the time of day you’ll interview – if you’re backlit strongly, the interviewer will not be able to see your face, but you also want to avoid casting shadows over your face.
- Do several practice runs. Testing your equipment in advance is a really good idea. If you can, start by having a friend practice-interview you on a video meeting platform, preferably the same one you’ll use in the real interview. Aim your eye contact in the right direction by placing the video image of your friend under your computer camera so your eye contact with them will be more natural.
- Practice speaking clearly, using natural hand gestures, and keeping your answers concise and meaningful. Pay attention to how to communicate enthusiasm and energy with upright posture, eye contact, head nods and smiles—it often takes a little more effort to show your enthusiasm via phone or video than in person. Record yourself so you can review your performance.
Dress for the interview and keep your focus
- It’s just as important to appear professional in a video as it is in person. Experts recommend avoiding patterned shirts as they can distract more readily on video. Consider wearing a plain colored top, and the same type of slacks or skirt that you would wear to an in-person interview.
- Try to sign into the video conferencing system as early as you can and test the connection if possible. Check out your computer audio and video to ensure they are fully operational and your Internet connection is sound and stable. Close extraneous applications and browser tabs, and mute notifications on your devices. before you start the meeting, and especially if you will share your screen.
- Unmute audio and video on your screen when the meeting is ready to start. Make sure your phone and/or computer are fully charged. If you’re going to need a password, save it in an easy-to-reach spot.
- It’s fine to keep a copy of your resume or some brief notes handy so you can refer to them but remember to look at and engage with your interviewer as much as possible. One tip is to write brief notes on post-its and stick them at eye level around your screen to avoid focusing your gaze down at your desk .
- Remember to focus on your video camera to keep eye contact. Do not look at a phone or device other than the interview device.
- Keep in mind that all is not lost if you have interruptions or equipment failures. It can even be an opportunity to demonstrate your cool head under stress.
- Once you and the interviewer connect, ask for their phone number so that you can continue the conversation if technical issues occur with the video conference. If you remain connected and have an issue, ask for a moment to resolve the issue, mute your audio and video to address it, then resume the conversation with a brief apology and a positive attitude.