How To Ace a Video Job Interview
Are you prepared to ace a video job interview? These days, more and more employers are vetting hires through virtual interviews instead of face-to-face meetings. Virtual job interviews take place through video platforms like Zoom or GoToMeeting.
In some ways, video interviews are easier than in-person meetings; you don’t have to commute, you don’t have to sit in a tense waiting room or worry about showing up on time. However, it’s important to pay attention to the tricky nuances of a virtual interview in order to ensure a smooth conversation that displays your best self.
8 Tips for Acing a Video Job Interview
Career Tool Belt spoke with FlexJobs’ career development manager Brie Weiler Reynolds about acing your next virtual job interview. Here are Reynolds’ top tips.
1. Test every interview beforehand.
Given the high likelihood of technical issues during a video interview, Reynolds suggested downloading the platform in question and testing every interview in advance. Recruit an honest friend to act as the employer on the other end. Then:
- Test your microphone to make sure it’s working and not too echo-y.
- Make sure your camera is working and that the angle is flattering.
- Make sure your Internet connection is very strong.
- Make sure that your space is quiet enough.
- Test your headset (headsets are helpful for video calls, according to Reynolds).
- Make sure your background looks professional and uncluttered in the shot.
- Make sure your gaze is locked on a solid spot and that you aren’t awkwardly looking around.
- Make sure that you’re not moving too much or too little in frame.
“Test it out not just one time, but every time you have an interview lined up,” said Reynolds. “Things can change in between. The room might get rearranged or the angle of the camera is not going to be the same as your last perfect setup.”
Tip: Here’s how to set up a Zoom test call to practice for your interview and to make sure all your audio, video, and internet connection are working properly.
2. Get backup contacts in advance.
Even if you fully prepare your Internet and audio connection, something might go wrong. For example, the potential employer’s connection could be weak and so you both experience an unworkable delay. Before the interview, make sure that you have a backup contact – for example, the employer’s cell phone number or their assistant’s direct line. That way, a poor connection doesn’t effectively end the interview.
“Don’t show frustration,” said Reynolds. “Always say, ‘that’s alright, don’t worry about it.’ Prepare beforehand in case there are any technical issues. Make it easy for them.”
3. Get dressed.
It’s common to slack off when it comes to dressing up for a remote interview. However, Reynolds advised interviewees to dress in a way that’s appropriate for the employer’s work culture.
“If it’s a position where you’re going to be in the office eventually, you should wear what you would wear to the office,” Reynolds said. “If it’s a culture that’s more casual, wear your nicest sweater.”
Yes, you should cover your legs too, according to Reynolds, even if your employer may not see them.
“You never know if someone is going to burst into your office, and then you have to stand up in front of the camera,” said Reynolds. “Wear business pants or an appropriate business covering.”
On the other hand, you don’t want to get too dressed up, since some garments don’t translate well to video.
“You don’t want loud colors and patterns or jewelry,” said Reynolds. “Light will bounce off those things and it’ll make noise when you move. I support plain clothing for virtual interviews, and avoid statement pieces.”
4. Harness your nervous energy.
Many people are nervous during interviews. Sometimes that nervous energy can be helpful. However, some people need to curb their nervous energy in order to conduct an effective interview.
For example, perhaps you’re the type of person who gesticulates a lot when they’re nervous, which might look too busy on a video conference. Or, perhaps you talk a lot when you’re nervous (see number 6), which might be okay in real life, but not over video chat. Reynolds suggested practicing to find your nervous energy sweet spot.
“I would practice ahead of time, said Reynolds. “I hear some people stand up during virtual interviews because it helps them get that nervous energy out and ups their positive energy so they feel a little more engaged versus when they are sitting.”
5. Shut everything else off.
To get into the right headspace, Reynolds suggested shutting off anything that makes noise, including your phone, your kitchen timer or anything that will distract you.
“Shut off everything that will beep. It will give you focus and make sure there’s nothing else in your way,” said Reynolds. “Set an alarm to do this, and be in the conference five minutes early to get in the zone.”
6. Get into a flow of speaking, then listening/muting.
One of the most difficult parts of virtual interviews is finding a conversational flow. In real life, we can talk over one another in moderation, according to Reynolds. However, on virtual calls, talking over someone can confuse and halt the conversation completely.
Reynolds suggested speaking your points, giving them a definitive period and not rambling beyond that. Then, listen to the employer without speaking over them. In fact, mute yourself whenever the employer or employers are speaking.
“The audio can’t go both ways at the same time. It’s about knowing when to stop talking and letting that natural pause happen,” said Reynolds.
On the other hand, if your interviewers are talking a lot, you must practice the art of speaking up.
“Give yourself a chance to break in – not too much, don’t interrupt. If it’s a situation where you have something to say and it makes good sense, you might want to interject a little bit,” said Reynolds. “It can be hard when the other person you’re talking to doesn’t know how to stop.”
7. Have your resume, work samples, references and your screen ready to share.
Many video conference platforms, like Zoom, offer screen-sharing capabilities. It doesn’t hurt to have your resume, work samples, references and other materials ready to share with your potential employer through your screen. Reynolds suggested having these items easily accessible on your desktop so you can call them up at any time, just in case.
However, remember that your entire screen is visible to the potential employer. It’s safest to just close out of everything that doesn’t pertain to the interview.
“Get rid of everything you shouldn’t have on your screen, said Reynolds.
Virtual interviews can feel awkward, making it harder to smile, according to Reynolds. She encouraged interviewees to do it anyway.
“There’s something about being physical with another person that makes it more natural to smile,” said Reynolds. “Many of us tend to get very serious-faced during virtual interviews, which can be read as bored, frustrated or angry.”
Reynolds suggested reminding yourself to smile. Put up a post-it that says “smile,” or tape a picture of something behind your camera – like a family member or a dog. “You want something that makes you happy staring back at you,” said Reynolds.
Do you need more help? There are free online interview practice tools you can use to get ready to ace a job interview, including sites where you can practice yourself or schedule a mock interview with a peer or a professional.