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How to Prepare for a Winning Video Interview

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In the age of Zoom and Google Meet, attending a video interview has quickly become the new normal.

But how do video interviews differ from old-school on-site ones? Is the etiquette different? Do you need to prepare differently?

The answer to all these questions is simply: Yes and no.

Video Interview Tips

Video interviews still follow a relatively similar format as regular ones. All the things you need to prepare for in interviews still go. In fact, it’s important not to forget those tips and advice when preparing for your video interview.

But there are certainly some differences to take into account when preparing for a video interview. Things like your camera, internet connection, potential technical difficulties, and your background are all aspects to think about.

Here are some simple video interview tips to get you ready for the big day.

Dress to impress

We’ve all heard of the pajamas-from-the-waist-down phenomenon during the pandemic, but some people take this a bit literally.

Just because you can do that, doesn’t mean you should.

In fact, a lot of people assume that the standard dress code for interviews no longer applies when they’re interviewing from their bedroom. But it does.

As the saying goes, dress for the job you want. Even if it’s on camera, even if it’s in a room full of your kids’ toys. Not only will this help to build a good first impression of you, but it will also get your head in the zone and help you feel more put together and professional.

Check your background

This is something that most people have never had to worry about before, but it’s a crucial part of the age of Zoom and Google Meet.

When you’re being interviewed, your background should look clean, without too much clutter, or distractions. Your interviewers could be looking at that very background for an hour or so while they talk to you.

Things to watch out for: hanging laundry, kids toys, garbage, dirty dishes, any dodgy wall art that you’d rather others wouldn’t see. In other words, anything that could paint you in a bad light or be too distracting.

Before your interview, have a quick whizz around the room you’ll be in. Clear out any junk, garbage, or clutter, and keep the background as simple and minimal as possible.

Once you’re done, test out your shot. Try out your webcam and take a look at what the interviewer will be looking at. This can help you see any glaring issues from their end.

Minimize disruptions and background noise

We’ve all seen the video of the BBC interview by now, with the kid waltzing into the room. While you’d hope your interviewer would find this funny or endearing (it was pretty funny), not all interviewers have the same sense of humor.

Even if they’re understanding, a big distraction like this can derail your train of thought and the conversation itself. It can leave you feeling a bit lost or flustered, so the best video interview tip here is to try and minimize disruptions.

If you live with other people, make sure they all know not to disturb you.

If you have a dog, try to keep them shut away so they don’t barge in and start barking. Dogs always know when you’re on a Zoom call.

Another distraction is background noise. While you can’t eliminate it entirely, you can try to find the quietest part of your home, switch off the air conditioning, and use a back room away from any main roads to limit the noise. Also remember, the mute button is your friend.

Test your tech and do a practice call

A crucial thread holding the video interview together is the tech and internet connection. You can prepare in every other way, but it can all go sour if your tech or connection is not up to scratch.

That’s why this is one video interview tip you can’t skip! Well before your interview, take some time to test out your tech. Take a look at the quality of your camera and microphone, and do a test call with someone you know to see how you look and sound.

Make sure you test your internet speed in different parts of your home as well. If you can, opt for a wired connection rather than wi-fi. You can’t predict a sudden loss of connection, but these steps can help you mitigate the risk of a faulty connection.

Check the lighting

While this isn’t exactly a Hollywood production, lighting is still important.

Natural light is good, but try to avoid pointing your camera at a window. Natural light is better behind the camera where it’s not too bright and distracting. Overhead lighting might make everything clear but it may not be the most flattering light.

Experiment with a few different ways of lighting your shot to see what looks the best. If you’re unsure, ask someone else to video call you and ask what they think.

Maintain good posture

Interviewing from home might make you feel more relaxed, but remember to keep good posture. It doesn’t look good if you’re slouched like you’re watching Netflix on your lunch break.

Instead, try to keep your back straight and swap out your chair if you have to.

Sitting up straight helps you look much more engaged than slouching will. Try to sit on the edge of the seat, plant your feet, and place your hands on the table.

Test out your body language

This might sound like a strange thing to do, but a hidden advantage of video interviews is you can do a practice run to see how you look. Open up your webcam and study not just your background setup, but also your body language.

Do you look relaxed or hunched up? Now’s the time to adjust your seating position, chair height, and monitor/laptop screen height for the most optimal body language and posture. Practice giving some answers to questions, using hand gestures until it starts to feel more natural.

Virtual Interviewing FAQs

Is a virtual interview similar to a regular interview?

While the setup is very different, virtual interviews should be treated just as seriously as regular interviews.

We have a tendency to treat them as not as important or serious, and perhaps get a bit too relaxed. But you should treat them the same if you want to impress and win the job.

How can I look good in a video interview?

There are a few solid steps you can take to look good in a video interview. Starting with the tech and camera setup side, some things you can do include:

  • Get a high-quality webcam
  • Make sure lighting is facing you rather than behind you
  • Put yourself in the center of the video frame

Regarding what you can do to prepare yourself, here are some video interview tips for looking good:

  • Make sure you dress to impress, in business attire
  • Get ready for the interview as you would with an in-person interview
  • Avoid flashy jewelry that may be distracting
  • Practice good body language and posture
  • Smile and maintain good eye contact

Most of these are simple tips but they’re worth reminding yourself of. Everything can feel different if you’ve never had a virtual interview before.

What do I need for a virtual interview?

The basics needed for a virtual interview are a webcam, microphone, and a stable internet connection. You don’t need fancy lighting or expensive equipment, but you should test out anything you already have to make sure you look and sound good.

Are all virtual interviews the same?

No, in fact when some companies are overwhelmed by applications, they may opt for a one-way video interview. This is where you are given questions and expected to answer them on a video recording. The recruiters then shortlist candidates and typically invite them to a second, live interview to get to know them better.

Ask the recruiters what type of interview it will be so you can better prepare for it. Preparing for your video interview doesn’t have to be complicated. There are just a few extra steps to consider before you click ‘join.’

The best video interview tip is to spend some time preparing, not just for what you’re going to say, but also your setup. The key is to reduce distractions, technical issues, and make yourself look good on camera.

With all this preparation, you’ll land a job in no time! If you want help and guidance on how to find your dream job, enroll in Ramit’s Find Your Dream Job program today for a step-by-step guide on achieving the job of your dreams.


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