How to Prepare for a Successful Video Job Interview

When the time comes to interview for your next job, you may find yourself in virtual meetings with prospective employers instead of meeting them face to face. Video interviews are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in the Bay Area. As employers and candidates become more conscientious about the efficient use of their time, video interviews make more and more sense. An employer wants to find out as quickly as possible whether you’ll be a fit for their company. When they invite candidates in for interviews, they may know within the first 10 minutes that someone isn’t right for their team. However, because that person made the effort to take time off work and drive out to their office, they feel obligated to give them at least 45 minutes. That’s a waste of everyone’s time. As a candidate, you don’t want to spend an hour or more driving out to an interview unless you have to. Not only do you have to account for the drive and time off work, you also have to worry about parking, traffic, and other logistics. Those concerns become even greater if, say, you live and work in San Francisco but the interview is in Palo Alto. It can be tough to get away from work, and you don’t want to jeopardize your current job or your new opportunities. Video interviews alleviate these problems. A hiring manager will feel more comfortable getting off a call after 20 minutes if the person is speaking with them from home. They’re not worried about having wasted an hour or more of that person’s time. As a candidate, you may be able to schedule several interviews in a week if you’re able to conduct them all from wherever you are.

“As employers and candidates become more conscientious about the efficient use of their time, video interviews make more and more sense.”

Hiring managers also like video interviews because they grant access to a wider talent pool. If they only interview people based in San Francisco, they miss out on exceptional candidates who live outside the city. Video interviews also help them accommodate promising candidates who travel for their current jobs. I recently worked with a candidate who was in India for six weeks working on a big project. While she was there, she wanted to get started on her job search, so we scheduled several video interviews with our clients. We opted for video instead of phone interviews because the visual component made those conversations more dynamic. Both parties were able to get a sense of whether they wanted to work together and therefore whether they were willing to wait a few weeks to meet in person. Doing so ensured that the candidate didn’t miss out on great opportunities and that our clients got to meet someone we thought would be a good fit for their needs. Meeting potential employers on video gives you an advantage over doing phone interviews. When hiring managers get to observe your professionalism and decorum, they have more data to work with. You’re able to give them a better sense of who you are and whether you might fit in their professional setting.

How to Ace Your Video Job Interview

If you’re asked to do a video interview, here’s how to impress hiring managers:

Make sure you have the right equipment.

Once you’ve scheduled the interview, make sure your computer camera works. You may want to invest in a higher-quality webcam, depending on the picture the built-in version displays. Enlist a family member or friend to help you test the picture and positioning of the camera. If the camera faces off to the side or way above your head, the interviewer will feel uncomfortable and distracted. The camera should capture a clear picture of you facing directly into the camera, exactly as you would appear in an in-person conversation. Find out what video calling program the hiring manager prefers. If you need to download new software, do so well before the call in case you run into problems.

Test your internet connection.

Even if you’ve used the video program in the past, test the connection a few hours before the call. Many hiring managers prefer to use Skype, but the program tends to give people connectivity trouble. Recruit a helpful family member or friend again an hour or two before the interview to ensure that none of your computer settings have changed and that your internet connection is reliable. Ideally, you won’t already be connected with them on the platform. You want to test the connection with a new contact so you can anticipate any issues well ahead of the call.

Confirm the interviewer’s contact details.

Add your interviewer on Skype as early as possible. If they haven’t invited you to connect a day or so beforehand, ask for their username and initiate the connection. Sometimes people have difficulty finding one another on Skype, particularly if there are several people with the same names. Clear up any confusion well before the interview time. You do not want to be scrambling to add the hiring manager at 12:59 when your interview is scheduled for 1 p.m. Exchange mobile phone numbers ahead of the interview as well. Then if there is a connectivity problem, you’re able to reach each other easily to reschedule or continue the conversation over the phone.

Consider your surroundings.

Chances are you’re conducting the phone interview from your home, but that doesn’t mean the interviewer should see your messy desk or kitchen counter while they’re talking to you. Take stock of your interview space and remove any distracting artwork from the shelves and walls. A blank wall makes the best backdrop for in-home interviews, so reduce the noise as much as you can. Tidy up the surrounding area and organize your desk as well. The goal is to create a conference room-like setting even within your home.

Dress appropriately.

Donning a suit for an at-home interview would look awkward and overdone, but you shouldn’t meet in your pajamas either. Use the conference room rule here and dress as you would if you were going to work. A crisp, professional outfit signals that you take the interview seriously and it assures the hiring manager that you’ll represent their company well.

Close other apps and programs on your computer.

Before the interview begins, close all other apps and programs on your computer. Having multiple browser tabs open and letting several programs run in the background can cause Skype and other video platforms to stall or lag. Your internet connection should be totally free except for the ongoing call. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with frozen images and fractured conversation not at all what you want in an interview. Set any apps and programs to Do Not Disturb during the call as well. Even if they don’t make noise or interrupt the connection, they’ll pull your attention away from the conversation and detract from the quality of the interview.

Silence any distracting devices.

Silencing your mobile phone should go without saying, but look around your house for other potential distractions. Is there an alarm that goes off mid-afternoon each day? An automatic coffee-maker scheduled to kick in as the interview begins? Eliminate any potential distractions. On that note, pour yourself a glass of water and keep it with you at your desk. You don’t want to have to get up and stop the interview if you’re struck with a cough during the discussion.

“People sometimes assume that because they’re not meeting in person, video interviews are less formal. However, hiring managers take video interviews seriously, so always bring your A game.”

Be professional.

The same rules of professionalism apply to both in-person and video interviews. Make eye contact, sit up straight, and show enthusiasm during the conversation. Be fully present with the interviewer even though you’re not in the same room. If distractions happen, acknowledge them and apologize, then continue with the interview. Sometimes a building alarm goes off or construction starts up outside, and there’s not much you can do about that. If the noise becomes too disruptive, politely ask to reschedule the interview. Then find a location that’s likely to be quieter and more conducive to an interview. Whatever you do, avoid the urge to rush off screen to fix whatever is happening. Explain the situation to the interviewer so they’re not left feeling confused and aggravated.

Remember: Video Interviews Are Not Phone Screenings

People sometimes assume that because they’re not meeting in person, video interviews are less formal. They think it’s a slightly more sophisticated version of a phone screening, just a preliminary chat before they get invited in. However, hiring managers take video interviews seriously, so always bring your A game. How you perform in a video meeting could determine whether you get hired. Approach these meetings with the same seriousness you would any other first-round interview.  

Schedule a consultation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Connect With Us

Whether you’re ready to hire or just want to strategize, our recruiters are always available to listen. Let’s talk. No strings attached.

Home / How to Prepare for a Successful Video Job Interview