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.
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.