In 2021, you’re likely to be familiar with the basics of preparing for a video interview: Find a quiet, clean place, make sure your mic is not muted, and—seriously—put on some pants. With employers increasingly using Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams interviews —and more and more job seekers becoming familiar with video interview protocols, it’s beneficial to take your digital interviewing practices to the next level.
- Prepare As You Would for an In-Person Interview
Just because your interview isn’t happening in person, doesn’t mean it’s not a real interview. You still need to prepare the same way you would if you were going to an in-person interview. That means researching the company and role, preparing to answer typical interview questions, and preparing questions to ask your interviewer in return.
- Dress to Impress
Dress just as formal as you would be for an in-person interview at the same company. The urge to be less formal because you’re in your own home is understandable, but it has potential to send the wrong message about how interested you are in the role.
- Test Your Technology
Cut down on technical difficulties by testing out your technology ahead of time on the platform, internet connection, and hardware you’ll be using for your interview. You can have a friend video chat with you to make sure all hearing and seeing aspects are working. Familiarize yourself with the program and make sure you know the basics.
- Optimize Your Eye Contact
Ensure you’ve found a comfortable distance that allows you to look straight ahead rather than down at the camera. Place the interview window where your interviewer will appear on the same monitor as your camera and move it as close centered to the camera as possible. That way, when you look at them you’re also naturally looking at the camera.
- “Show Up” a Few Minutes Early
You wouldn’t walk into your 2 PM interview at exactly 2 PM or even at 1:59 PM, so you shouldn’t cut it close for a video interview either. Prepare your computer by closing all extra windows and tabs. If you have a portfolio or anything similar that you’d like to be able to show via screen share during your interview, make sure that it’s ready in an easy-to-access, but minimized, window.
- Acknowledge the Differences
It’s okay to mention that a video interview isn’t the same as an in-person interview. Acknowledging that things are different helps put people at ease and mimics those introductory moments. Don’t be afraid to say if something is off, for example, if you can’t hear or see your interviewer well. Doing so will demonstrate that you’re willing to speak up and be straightforward about issues.
- Engage using Nonverbal communication
Nonverbal communication is important in every conversation, but when it comes to a video interview, a lot of the avenues through which we usually give nonverbal cues—eye contact, body language, and small murmurs of agreement—are restricted. Lean heavily on your facial expressions.
Instead of saying “mm-hm” or “yeah,” nod or smile when you’d usually speak to provide the feedback your interviewer needs without your mic accidentally overriding theirs.
Here’s a checklist:
- Find a quiet, private, well-lit place, free from possible interruptions.
- Ensure your internet connection is stable.
- Check that your computer’s audio is working.
- Test your webcam.
- Close any unnecessary web browser tabs and applications.
- Dress professionally and avoid bright colors.
- Consider your background space.
- Have a pen, notepad, job description, and copy of your resume on your desk.
- When listening, nod, and smile to show you are engaged.
- Use hand gestures when appropriate.
- Place your phone in silent mode.
- Let anyone in your household/ space that you’re interviewing and politely request no interruptions.
As a job seeker, you have the same goal in a video interview and an in-person interview: to demonstrate you are the right person for the job. Ultimately, you want to spend as little time as possible during a video interview focused on the video part, but rather the connection you can make with an interviewer.