Technology dictates a large portion of our lives. Its reach seems limitless. You can order groceries online, run a business from a phone, or even surf the internet on an airplane. Its ubiquitous influence determines how nearly everything is done—so it’s no surprise to see technology shaping the interview process.
If you’re looking for a job, you may be prompted to participate in a video interview. This could mean a couple different things. You might speak directly with a recruiter over video chat or you might be sent a series of questions and asked to record your answers.
In many ways, preparing for a video interview is similar to an in-person interview. You still need to do research on the company, practice your answers, and come up with questions to ask (if you’re talking to someone in the video), but there are a handful of additional steps to take with a video interview so that you’re thoroughly prepared.
Test the Electronics
A day or two before the interview, do a test run on all the equipment you’ll be using for the interview. If the company has specified a system, such as Skype, make sure you have the latest version downloaded on your computer. You might think this step is unnecessary—everything worked fine the last time you used video chat, but technology is fickle. The last thing you want for a video interview is the sound to drop out or the screen to freeze or the resolution to appear fuzzy. Make sure it’s all working and if not, you’ve allowed yourself ample time to fix any issues.
Take Control of Sound & Figure Out the Setting
When you participate in a video interview, it’s important to find a space most conducive to what an interview requires: quiet, attention, and no distractions. Don’t set up in a bustling coffee shop or café. In general, avoid public spaces as they are often loud and distracting, which is the opposite of an ideal video interview atmosphere. Find a room in your house where you can close the door and have privacy. You don’t want any sounds—dogs barking, other people talking, yardwork—contributing to your interview.
Now that you’ve found a quiet space free of distraction, take a look at how the space appears. Are there posters on the wall or a pile of folded laundry in the corner or an unmade bed in the background? You want the space to appear as neutral as possible. Same as you wouldn’t wear a band shirt to an interview, you shouldn’t have a movie poster hanging up in the frame of your interview. Keep the background simple, free of clutter, and glares (avoid windows). Set up in front of a blank wall during the interview so that the primary focus is on you and what you’re saying.
Dress Professionally Head to Toe
Some of the implied humor behind video interviews is that people are wearing professional clothing up top and pajama pants from the waist down, slippers included. As comfortable and luxurious as this sounds, it’s better to wear the same thing you would as if you were going into an office for an interview, even though the camera is situated from your chest up. Most likely, you won’t have to get out of your seat for anything during the interview, but if you do, and you’re wearing pajama pants, that’s not going to look great—both in the literal and figurative sense. Not only that, but sticking to professional wear will help keep you in the interview mentality.
Since you’ll be on screen, don’t wear patterns or bright colors. What looks great in person doesn’t always translate the same over video chat. Stick with darker shades (blue works great) and minimal jewelry as it could create a glare.
Remember Your Face and Posture
While you can’t shake hands with anyone over a video interview, you can still appear affable by smiling and remembering to look directly into the camera. You must maintain good posture and appear engaged over a video interview, same as anything in an office. Try to not fidget or tap a pen—even if that’s not in the shot, the people on the other end of the video chat can most likely hear extra sounds. Keep your hands folded in front of you, smile, and maintain eye contact.
A video interview is usually a preliminary measure before any in-person meetings, so treat the video chat as your stepping stone to the next interview. You want to be professional, dress well, and come prepared.
You can visit a no-cost Goodwill Career Center and ask a career advisor for assistance with your job search, including mock interviews. Call 602-535-4444 to find a center near you or visit our locations page. Good luck with your job search!