8 Practical Tips for Nailing a Video Interview

Video interviews are a whole different game, so here are some preparation and presentation tips from the pros.

Remember when we used to do things and see people in person? It may feel like a distant memory, but for now, staying in and avoiding these face-to-face moments is absolutely for the best. This includes avoiding in-person job interviews, too.

Hunting for a job in any situation can be a challenging experience, but throw in a pandemic and it becomes a whole new ballgame. Luckily, companies are indeed still hiring (including Amazon, which is hiring 100,000 new employees and Walmart which is seeking a few thousand more each day as well). That said, job interviews are looking a bit different right now. In fact, they’ve gone fully digital.

In the age of coronavirus, people are still getting business done via the internet with platforms like Zoom, Webex, and Microsoft Office Teams. Though it may seem easy to simply log on, there are a few tips and tricks experts say can help you nail a video interview and get hired ASAP.

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Don’t be late.

Since you’re dialing into the interview remotely, normally understandable excuses for tardiness, like a traffic-causing accident or train delays, don’t apply.

Brie Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs, says it’s crucial to “arrive” early to your online interview, because it could take a while to log in or ensure connection. “If the company uses a video conferencing software you’ve never used, it might take some time to download the application,: she says. “Do all this beforehand so that you’re ready to go at your interview time.”

02 of 08

Test out your technology.

On that point, it’s a good idea to test out the technology you’re using for your online interview before your scheduled date. Reynolds says there are three main components to test: audio settings, camera settings, and internet connection.

“Do your speakers and microphone work? Make sure you are coming across clear and loud with no static,” she says. With the camera, it’s key to test whether your environment is properly lit and free of distractions.

With the Internet connection, it may be wise to ensure you’re plugged in with an “Ethernet cable for a hard connection,” Reynolds adds. Video conferencing may take up a lot of bandwidth and a spotty Wi-Fi connection may cause an overly lagged session.”

Finally, familiarize yourself with the software being used for the interview. Zoom, HireVue, GoToMeeting, Skype, and Google Hangouts are some common platforms right now. Most of them offer free trials, so it could be smart to download it, watch some tutorials, and give it a quick test.

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Optimize your lighting.

As with any interview presentation is important. Now’s the time to look your best, and a great lighting setup can help. “The thing about video conference calls is that your computer has a bad light meter inside it,” says Seth Brown, co-founder of MakeWild, a video production company based in Los Angeles. “Make sure that where you’re sitting has even light around you as well.”

At the very least, find a neutrally lit room where you can play with lighting. If you want to invest in some complexion-boosting equipment, “a ring light is a safe bet to always look your best,” Brown says. “Place a ring light behind the computer, facing you—it will give you an evenly lit face, with minimal shadows.”

If you really want to go above and beyond, use a light with a softbox to prevent shadows, which tend to emphasize imperfections that might make you self-conscious.

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Check your hair.

Speaking of looking your best, check your hair before logging on. Your interviewer will only see you from the chest up, so it’s key to keep your strands polished to prevent distractions.

Want to wear your hair down? “One of my best and chicest tips is to middle part, or deep side part your hair, then brush through so it’s soft and sleek,” says celebrity hairstylist Kristen Shaw. “Both ways of parting give your hair more style that will be noticeable on camera.”

If you prefer to keep your hair back, Shaw says to do the same parting, but pull your hair back straight behind your earline or at the nape of the neck, if your hair is long. “If you have texture or face-framing/bangs, toss your hair up, Bridgette Bardot style, and leave some pieces down in the front.”

Otherwise, Shaw says to try a half-up, half-down style, and pull the hair that’s down to the front of your shoulder area. This look is put-together without trying too hard.

RELATED: Here Are 10 Beauty Tips for Looking Your Best Over Video

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Send the right body language message.

Reynolds says that your body language in a video interview can convey a lot of things about who you are as a person and who you may be as a potential employee.

"You can present a positive image by sitting up straight with good posture," she says. "Place both feet on the ground, and avoid doing things like slouching or holding your head up with your hand. Try to keep your hands in your lap to avoid distracting gestures or fiddling."

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Make "eye contact."

It’s important to pay attention to where you’re looking, too. Eye contact is crucial in an in-person interview; but looking at your interviewer’s face on your computer screen means you’re not actually looking into the camera and making eye contact.

It sounds weird, but try looking straight into the camera as often as possible, especially when you’re speaking. “This will give your interviewer the sense that you’re engaged and not distracted by what’s happening on your screen,” Reynolds says.

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Listen with intention.

Just like an in-person interview, it’s important to be an active listener online.

“Keep your mind from drifting off and focus on listening when the interviewer speaks,” Reynolds says. “Pay close attention to what the interviewer is saying. Sometimes when you’re on a video job interview, it’s easy to accidentally cut someone off due to audio delays or from not paying attention to nonverbal cues. To avoid this, listen carefully to the interviewer and pause before speaking to avoid cutting in.”

Also make sure the video interview window (and maybe your notes or resume) is the only thing up on the screen. Even having your email open, but minimized, can cause distractions if you receive visual banner notifications or audible pings during the conversation.

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Please wear pants.

It’s tempting to wear a button-down blouse and pajama bottoms—but you just never know.

“Even though an online interview usually means you're only visible from the waist down, you shouldn't dress up only the upper half of your body,” Reynolds says. “You may need to stand up to grab something, which would reveal your mismatched bottoms. Avoid this risk and wear interview clothes from head to toe. View yourself through your webcam to make sure your outfit looks professional on camera as well.”

RELATED: Here’s How to Actually Get Stuff Done While You’re Working From Home

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