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How to nail your video interview: 5 things to remember

Katie Clayman
Principal Talent Advisor

There’s no way around it: Video interviews have become the new normal. For those of you who are well-used to communicating on camera with popular apps like FaceTime and Zoom, this may come as a welcome development. But for many, the video interview can be a very real source of stress, and one that you definitely don’t need when trying to impress a potential employer.

The truth is, everyone could do with brushing up on their video interviewing skills. There’s a good chance that if video-chatting feels like second nature to you, you may have picked up some bad habits that won’t benefit you in an interview situation. But there’s no need to panic: Follow my advice and you’ll be more than ready to present your best self on camera.

1. Control your environment

What exactly will your camera see? Try to find a backdrop that looks professional, or at the very least, won’t draw attention away from what you’re saying. If worst comes to worst and you have no choice but to conduct the interview in your bedroom, then make sure you clear the area behind you and position your camera so that any tell-tale personal items are out of view.

Whatever space you decide on, ensure it can be secured for the duration of your interview, and warn any family/housemates not to disturb you.

2. Lighting is important

Good lighting is way more important than most people realize. What time of day is your interview going to take place? Will there be a window close by? Too much light behind you can make it hard for your interviewer to see you clearly, where as a light positioned in front of you will help illuminate your face. Do you wear glasses? If so, check in your camera beforehand that there’s no glare coming off them.

3. Test your technology

Don’t get blindsided 30 seconds before your interview is due to start. Double-check that all your technology is working—and that you know how to use it. If you’re unfamiliar with the particular medium your prospective employer is using, set up a practice video call with a friend before the real deal.

  • Choose your device wisely: If possible, take your video call on a computer. Mobile phones don’t always have the same capabilities as a laptop or tablet (if it’s a technical interview, you may have to whiteboard). If you must use a phone, make sure it’s positioned horizontally, not vertically. 
  • Get connected: Test your signal strength prior to the interview to make sure you have the bandwidth for an uninterrupted connection with audio and video.
  • Mic check:  Test your microphone and speakers prior to the video call.
  • Power up:  Some technical interviews can last a significant chunk of time. Make sure your device is fully charged or that you’re plugged into a power source.
  • Cut out noise: Shut down all other apps, especially instant messenger or email which are likely to go off during your call. Put your phone on silent too.
  • Speak up: If you do have connectivity issues, let your interviewer know. You don’t want them thinking you aren’t listening to their questions, when in reality you just can’t hear them properly.
  • Have a backup plan: At the end of the day, technology can fail—it’s not the end of the world, so try not to let it phase you. Just make sure to have your cell phone handy in case your interviewer has to call you instead.

4. Watch your body language

Creating a meaningful connection with your interviewer is always be a top priority in an interview; that doesn’t change just because you’re not talking in person. However, trust-building behaviours like shaking hands are obviously out of the question, so in the absence of normal social cues, other things like body language, tone of voice, and good posture become even more important.

Make sure you speak clearly, sit up straight, and don’t cover your mouth while speaking. You can also show that you’re engaged by nodding and smiling where appropriate. Be careful not to fidget too much as this communicates nervousness.

One of the best ways to build rapport in a video interview is by sustaining eye contact. It exudes confidence and shows that you’re listening to what the other person is saying. So make sure you’re looking into the camera as much as possible. For this reason, you might want to avoid using a second screen display where you’re not looking directly into the camera—or else position both devices close together so your interviewer isn’t stuck watching the side of your face.

5. Treat it like you would a normal interview

There are some things that are universal, no matter what form your interview is taking.

  • Be on time: Nothing says “my time is more important than yours” than being late. 
  • Look the part: Even if you are taking this interview from the comfort of your sitting room, you still need to dress professionally. Wear the same attire you would to a face-to-face interview, but steer clear of overwhelmingly bright colors or busy patterns.
  • Plan ahead: Have everything you’re going to need in front of you e.g. a glass of water, notepad, and pen. But avoid using notes, which can make you look nervous and ill-prepared. If you want your resume in front of you to remember dates, then be clear about that. Tell the interviewer what you have in front of you and why. 
  • Practice your answers: Do as much prep work as you would for a normal interview. Research the company, prepare answers to interview questions, avoid these common mistakes, and read these top tips.

For more expert career advice and a direct line to Oracle recruiters, I highly recommend you join the Oracle Talent Network—and make sure you check out our career opportunities.

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