Video Interview Tips

Ideas and Techniques to Excel in a Video Interview

Video interviews, sometimes called virtual, digital, or videoconference interviews, are becoming common. A video interview is a job interview that is conducted using technology to provide the audio and visual connection between the interviewer(s) and the applicant. Some organizations are also using video for cover letters, resumes and personal profiles.

Some video interviews will be one-way. That is, the candidate will answer on-screen or pre-recorded questions within a given time frame. There won't be direct interaction with the interviewer.

Other interviews will be two-way, which is more like a live interview. The candidate and interviewer(s) will both be online and directly interacting. Questions will be asked and the candidate will respond accordingly. There is also the possibility of the candidate asking questions of the interviewers.

There are also hybrid types of video interviews. Some will be fairly structured and others much more unstructured in their approach. You'll find some example technologies at the bottom of this page.

Here are some tips to help you shine if video becomes a part of your job search experience.

No. Issue Comments and Suggestions
1 Video interviews are just as important as in-person interviews

A video interview (sometimes called a virtual, digital, or videoconference interview) is a job interview that is conducted using technology to provide the audio and visual connection between the interviewer(s) and the applicant. Its purpose and importance are identical to an in-person interview.

If you do well in a video interview, your chances of advancing to the next level in the recruitment process will be greatly enhanced. Plan and prepare for video interviews accordingly.

2 Think about your overall job search goal

Just as you would for an in-person interview, you should enter the video interview with a goal in mind. The obvious goal, of course, it to get hired, but to do so, you must convince the interviewer that you have the right stuff to do the job.

Think about your background and how it fits with the job. Are there unique skills or experience that you possess? Can you differentiate yourself in a positive way from other applicants? If so, part of your goal should be to ensure the interviewer is keenly aware of your unique qualifications.

3 Prepare for the interview with the same care you would use for an in-person interview

The same effort you put into preparing for an in-person interview should be put into preparing for a video interview. While there are some unique considerations, most of the prep work is identical for either type of interview.

If possible, find out the name(s) and position(s) of the interviewer(s). It is always valuable to know the kinds of people you will be talking with and it can help you prepare answers to the kinds of questions they are likely to ask.

4 Be sure you provide any requested materials (resumes, cover letters, etc.) well in advance

When scheduling your for a video interview, you may be asked to provide updated copies of resumes, cover letters, and the like. You may also be asked for information to verify your email address, primary and backup phone numbers or other information that will help facilitate the video interview.

Prompt reply to such requests is important. Keep in mind that humorous or questionable email addresses and the like may be fine for communicating with your friends, but they may not be very well received by potential employers.

5 Don’t hesitate to ask for advice or help related to the process or equipment being used

During an in-person interview, it is usually pretty easy to judge whether you are speaking loud enough or if the interviewer understands your responses. It is more difficult to make such judgments during a video interview.

If there is any doubt, be sure you ask the interviewer if he or she can see you okay or if your speaking volume is adequate. Likewise, if you aren’t receiving clear video or audio from the interviewer, let them know that as well.

6 Dress the same as you would for an in-person interview

Taking a video interview from your home in a suit coat and tie on top, but ragged jeans on the bottom might sound like fun, but it can backfire. Don’t assume you will remain seated throughout the video interview.

It is best to avoid clothes with narrow stripes because they may look odd on video. Also, lighter clothes look better against a dark background and darker clothes look better against a light background. Dress professionally based on expectations for the kind of job you are applying for.

7 Make sure your microphone is at a proper distance

Microphone placement is important for both volume and voice quality. If the microphone is too far away, you may sound muffled or like you are in a tunnel. If it is too close, you may sound too “breathy” and risk having minor throat clearing sound exceptionally loud.

Don’t hesitate to ask the interviewer about voice quality and volume. You don’t want the interviewer to strain trying to see or hear you.

8 Look at the camera; not the screen

Even though it is through a camera lens, you want to make good eye contact with the interviewer. Having good eye contact will make you appear more sincere and credible.

When you look at the camera, you come across as though you are looking directly at the interviewer. When you look away from the camera, it appears as though you are looking away from the interviewer. It may take some practice or a conscious effort, but be sure to maintain good eye contact.

9 Picture-in-picture capability

If taking a video interview from your home and you have picture-in-picture capability on your personal computer (you can see your own picture and the interviewer), an occasional glance at your picture can help you adjust from an awkward position or bad lighting. However; it is important to look at your own picture sparingly so it doesn’t appear you are staring at it or avoiding eye contact with the interviewer.

If you need to look at your video picture or anything else during the interview, try to place those things as close to the camera as possible. That way, when you glance at them, your eyes don’t stray too much from the camera.

10 Expect questions to be very similar to those of an in-person interview

Generally, a video interview will follow that same pattern as an in-person interview. You should expect interview questions to be very similar, if not identical, to those of any other interview. The Job Search eBook and Interview Trainer provide a substantial amount of information that will help you anticipate and practice for the types of questions you will be asked.

Because video makes it more difficult to observe how the interviewer is reacting to your answers, pay close attention to the video monitor so you are better able to pick up on subtle clues.

11 Prepare questions for the interviewer

As is the case in an in-person interview, you should always prepare questions for the interviewer. Having some questions about the organization, the job the environment in which you will work or the next steps I n the process shows you are interested in the job.

It can also be helpful to ask the interviewer a question that relates to their perception of your fit for the job. If they mention a concern, it gives you an opportunity to add some additional information that will help overcome that concern.

12 Appear natural and relaxed

Even though a video interview may seem new and challenging, in reality it is still an interview. As in any other interview, you want to come across as comfortable, confident and credible. If you start by making a positive first impression, the rest of the interview will be easier.

Appearing relaxed greatly helps in creating a positive impression and nothing will make you more relaxed than good preparation. Take advantage of the many tools and practice questions available, including some well-rehearsed stories about your past successes and accomplishments.

13 Pay attention to the audio and video presence of the interviewer

The interviewer will often give subtle clues about how they are feeling about your responses. In a video interview environment, these clues are a little more difficult to identify than they are when participating in an in-person interview.

Observing the interviewer’s video presence can be a challenge since you want to look at the camera as much as possible. If you have the ability to do so, position the video monitor as close to the camera as possible so your eyes don’t have to stray too far from the camera’s lens.

14 Your Non-verbal clues (body language) are important

Non-verbal clues (body language) will be a big part of what the interviewer evaluates. As is the case for in-person interviews, avoid fidgeting or displaying nervous or defensive body language signs.

If you can, record some practice video interview sessions and evaluate how well you come across. There are few tools that can help you more than your own observations.

15 Setting the stage

If using your home computer and a web cam, be sure you have good lighting and avoid unflattering or distracting shadows. Be sure what shows up in the background is appropriate and “politically correct. Also be sure you have taken steps to avoid being interrupted by people, pets, noises, etc.

The background doesn’t need to be stark, but it shouldn’t be the focus of the interviewer’s attention either. It helps if there is a fair amount of distance between you and what is behind you. Ideally, have the camera focus on you and have what is behind you slightly out of focus.

16 Don’t get thrown off by mistakes or distractions

Don’t target an “Academy Award” winning performance. Perfection in a video interview isn’t expected. If you make a mistake, treat it like you would during the course of an in-person interview and then keep moving forward.

You want to appear as natural and “real” as you can be. This will help you come across as confident and credible.

17 Avoid using notes or other aids

The time for reading notes and other aids is before the video interview starts. Once it starts, you risk damaging your credibility if you are perceived as having to reference notes in order to answer the interviewer’s questions.

Reading notes would also require you to shift your attention away from the camera, thereby causing the perceived loss of eye contact. With proper interview preparation, notes will not be necessary for a successful interview.

18 Use video to your advantage

Having a positive attitude about a video interview can help you a lot. If you come across as confident, poised and informed, video could become your best friend.

Take advantage of the knowledge and tools available to help you be successful during an interview. The more you know and practice, the more confident you will become. That confidence will be obvious to the interviewer and will help you move on to the next step in the recruitment process.

19 Facial expressions, hair styles and the like will stand out

The field of view for a video interview is relatively narrow when compared to the field of view for an in-person interview. Because of this, the interviewer will be more focused on your face and upper torso.

Be sure to smile where appropriate and avoid frowns. Be cautious about gaudy jewelry, stand-out hair styles, body art, funky clothing and the like. Think about what an appropriate professional style might be for the job you are applying for and mimic that style.

20 Close the interview on a positive note

You don’t want to leave the interviewer wondering how you feel about the open position or if you had a positive experience. If you are enthusiastic about the job, say so. If you enjoyed your conversation with the interviewer, say so. You get the message.

Once the video interview is over, use some of the tools provided on this website to critique the interview, make changes to your resume or cover letter, etc. Also, don’t forget to follow up with a thank-you note.

Examples of Video Interview Technologies

Zoom, Skype, WebEx, VidCruiter, Breezy HR, HireVue, and Jobvite are some examples of the evolving technology used in video interviews today. We are not endorsing any video interview firm or technology, but we think you can benefit by taking a look at some of these and similar technologies to get a sense of what you might encounter.

Video Interview Tips

Key Points

  • Video interviews should be treated just as seriously as an in-person interview.
  • Expect the same kinds of interview questions.
  • Dress as you would for an in-person interview, but also be aware of what is in the background.
  • Keep eye contact by looking into the camera lens.
  • Make a positive first impression. It will tend to be a lasting impression.
  • Don't get thrown off by mistakes or distractions. Keep moving forward.
  • Video interviews are becoming common ... plan accordingly