How do I prepare for a video interview? Pt. 1

Jakob Owens, Unsplash

Today, we’re talking about video interviews. Someone quite rightly commented on my last article that, right now, it’s all about video interviews. For nearly a year now, we’ve been stuck behind our screens. And, for what looks like the foreseeable future, you’ll have to work out a way to navigate these to get your dream job.

There’s a lot to talk about on this subject. So, I’ve split it over 2 articles that will cover everything you should be aware of before jumping into your next virtual interview.

Now, pretty much all standard face-to-face interview preparation will translate just as well to video – so I won’t go into that. What I’ll do today is highlight the 4 main things you need to get right when it comes to impressing through a screen.

The 2nd half of this article will be a mash-up of miscellaneous hints and tips that’ll give you a head start on your next video interview.

First, screens.

If possible, and if you have the option, always go with a laptop or computer with a webcam over a phone or smaller device. These other items may do the job. But, they wreak havoc with screen dimensions on the interviewers’ side. Plus, you’ll also be staring into a tiny screen that just isn’t ideal.

How you position your laptop is key as well. Ensure your screen is at eye-level and you’re not looking down (most common), or up at the screen. You want to mimic a real interview as much as possible. ‘Looking down’ on your interviewer probably isn’t a great way to do that.

Next, lighting.

I’ve been in interviews and meetings where the other person seems to be shrouded in darkness – it’s not very enjoyable. Make it as easy as possible for your interviewer to be able to see you. This way, they can make eye-contact, feed off of your reactions and will help build rapport.

So, you want to sit in front of a window to take advantage of some good ol’ natural light. Failing this, get a lamp and place it behind your screen so it’s shining nicely on to your face.

Once you’ve got the main visuals set up, take advantage of them. We just touched on eye-contact. Much like in person, this is key. However, in this scenario it’s much easier to get caught staring at the other person (i.e. looking away from the camera), or worse, staring at yourself on screen.

To rectify this, either look directly in to the camera when speaking or (my personal favourite), align the other person directly under your camera so it looks as though you’re looking directly at them.

Side note, don’t be afraid to break eye-contact every now and again, of course. You don’t want it to get weird.

Now, the background.

A lot of people tend to forget this one. Such an easy win, but can also be so distracting if forgotten about. Keep it as neutral as possible. The last thing you want is your interviewer being distracted by your drying clothes or messy room. You can even go as bland as a blank wall – in fact, that’s perfect. They’re here to see and hear from you.

If we really want to get into the details on visuals; steer clear from any really bright, really dark or patterned clothes. I’ve got nothing against these, personally. But cameras tend not to like them. And, as such, will end up distorting your outfit and give your interviewer a headache.

Sound.

Now, if you take away one thing today. It’s this. Sound is absolutely the number 1 concern when it comes to video interviewing.

Think about it this way. If your webcam broke; it’s not ideal, but you can still communicate and the interview can go ahead. If they can’t hear you though, even if you’re filming in 4k – the interview just can’t happen. Make sure your microphone works and is reliable.

Side note, given the choice, opt for the speakers and mic on your laptop/computer – rather than headphones. There’s just something about wearing headphones that makes a person look unapproachable.

I did say we’re looking for all the little ‘one percents’, right?

These are the 4 key areas I think everyone should consider before jumping on to your next video interview.

Please bear in mind though, these tips won’t be the reason you get that job offer. You’re the reason you’ll get that job offer.

But, if you take these things into consideration whilst preparing for your video interview – they’ll definitely help set you up for success and help you bring your best self to the interview.

Thoughts/feedback/questions welcome.

I have a bunch of other random hints and tips in part 2 – dropping on Thursday.

In the meantime, what are your best tips for video interviews?

Ash

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