Prepare Yourself

If at all possible, try to practice with a friend or family member beforehand.

  • Test your audio, video, and internet connection using the same software as the interview.
  • Make sure the other person can hear you and there’s nothing distracting them in the frame.
  • Ask them to tell you if your gestures or body language look awkward on camera.

Dress professionally from head to toe: You’ll feel and act more put together if you’re not wearing sweatpants. Just avoid jewelry that makes a lot of noise or is visually distracting.

Prepare the Shot

Frame your shot as closely to an in-person interview as you can.

  • Don’t sit super close to the screen—you want your head and shoulders visible. A good rule of thumb is to leave 10-20% of the screen empty above your head. You won’t be tiny, but you also won’t cut yourself off accidentally by sitting up straighter or gesturing.
  • Choose a simple background with no distractions. Gardner says she once had a client give an interview in a room full of dressmaker’s mannequins—and had trouble focusing on the interviewee as a result.
  • Using headphones helps prevent weird echoes, and if your headphones have a microphone on them, that will make it easier to hear you. (Make sure the mic isn’t rubbing against your shirt or banging against your necklace throughout the interview.) Avoid giant over-the-ear headphones or gaming headsets—or at least consider the visual aesthetic you’re creating by wearing them.

Unlike a phone interview, body language is important in a video interview. Try not to lean in—this can make you look too large and close on the interviewer’s screen. Instead, sit up straight, and smile and nod to show you’re paying attention

Prepare Your Environment

Choose a spot for the interview where you can control the surroundings. If at all possible, take the video interview in your home, but anywhere quiet with a good internet connection is a viable option. Don’t take a video interview in a coffee shop except as a last resort.

Lighting

When it comes to lighting, natural light from a window is ideal; fluorescent or tungsten lights can be unflattering.

Facing your light source is always better than having it at your back (which creates shadows), but check for glare from your eyeglasses, watch, or jewelry.

Camera

Set up your computer so that the camera is close to eye level. If you have to use your phone, prop it up on a stack of books. You’ll avoid that shaky handheld effect, and the extra height will get the camera at the right angle.

Multiple monitors? Place the one with the camera on it straight ahead of you so you’re not turning your body or looking away from the interviewer.

Bonus tip: Put the window with the interview in it as close to the camera as possible, to help you mimic eye contact with the interviewer.

Background on Camera

What will be seen behind you on your video interview matters as well. A neutral background is your best bet.

Must-Haves   

Clear your desk of distractions, and only keep what you’d have at an in-person interview: a glass of water, a copy of your resume, and something to take notes with. “Be fully present. Don’t have your phone out next to you,” Moyer says.

Webcam Software Options

Most external webcams come with some sort of software to adjust exposure, balance, and color. Built-in cameras generally do not.

You can also buy and install software that enables additional camera customization options.

Aim for nice, natural-looking color. Don’t over-expose and over-saturate — it’s likely to look weird.

 Maintain good eye contact

We all know how important it is to make confident eye contact during a job interview. This is much tougher to do via video. When you’re speaking to someone via video conference, your eyes naturally want to focus on the face of your conversation partner. Depending on where that face is on your monitor and the location of your webcam, this can cause you to appear on-screen as if you are looking down or away.

You can avoid this by resizing and moving the window with the person’s video image. Move it up or as close to your webcam as possible. This will give the closest approximation to real human eye contact.

To Headset or Not to Headset

Even though we personally prefer a headset during a video interview, you don’t necessarily need one. All webcams have built-in microphones now, but there are a couple of issues with them.

First, you can’t control the background and ambient noise that can creep in. Built-in mics (especially on the cheaper webcams) will pick up all the ambient sounds you want to keep out.

Second, your voice will sound tinny and not as rich and clear as it should. The tone of your voice is extremely important in persuasion, so it goes without saying that you should take whatever steps you can to sound as good as possible during your job interview.

During Video Interview

  1. Body Language

Like in an in-person interview, body language is crucial to how you will be perceived. It’s well worth taking some time to work on your body language to ensure you come across well.

First, try to eliminate any tics or fidgeting. Playing with a pen in front of the camera, for example, is really distracting. Fidgeting makes you look nervous and won’t display the confidence you want them to see.

  1. Speaking Clearly and Slowly

A really common problem for anyone who’s a bit nervous about speaking – whether at an interview, giving a presentation or just talking to someone – is going too fast. Nerves can make you rush through what you want to say to get it over and done with. Don’t let that happen.

This is a skill that will take practice. Get friends and family – anyone who will listen – to practice interviews and presentations with you. Really focus on speaking clearly and slowly.

  1. No Googling

No matter how stealthily you think you can type, it will always be noticeable if you’re trying to google something during the interview. In general, don’t do anything that distracts you.

Have all the information you need already on the desk in front of you, or already open in your browser. That’s things like your CV, covering letter and the employer’s website.

  1. Sticking to the Question

The key to giving a good interview is to be confident, concise and direct. That means you need to stick to the question rather than talking about something unrelated.

  1. Be Memorable

Finally, when following all this advice, try not to lose your unique personality. Above all, you’re trying to convince the employer to hire you because only you can provide what you’re offering

There are a few simple guidelines for your overall look during a video interview that you can follow:

  1. Do not wear white (shirts, blouses or jackets). Because of how the webcam works and the lighting, white will be way too bright and distracting. A light blue shirt or blouse is a better option.
  2. Avoid wearing pure black on camera. Same as above – your webcam will adapt to try and show the black and this can cause your face to wash out a bit due to overexposure.
  3. Super-bright colors (bright reds, yellows, pinks, etc) can also cause problems and give your skin a slight reddish, unnatural tint on camera.
  4. Do not wear pinstripes, hounds tooth, herringbone, or anything that has a busy pattern.
  5. Many softer, solid colors will work great. A dark, deep blue is one of the best options.
  6. As a rule, if there’s a very high contrast between two colors, it won’t do well on camera.

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