How to prepare for a video job interview
Dear Sam: I just graduated from college and I have been applying for different opportunities and going through the job search process. I have participated in traditional and phone interviews, but I just set up my first video interview. I am a lot more nervous about this than any previous interviews! Help! – Kate
Dear Kate: As the way people work changes — remote work, global hiring, and technology integration — so does the hiring process. There are a few different formats video interviewing can take: (1) a live video call you take from a location of your choosing, (2) a live video call in the employer’s office with a remote hiring manager, and (3) a prerecorded video interview where you record your answers and submit them for review. Video interviews are becoming more and more common. A recent study from OfficeTeam found that 63% of human resources managers are using video interviewing during the talent acquisition process.
Let’s go over some ways to best prepare for your video interview.
1. Set up your location
If you are in charge of choosing the location, find a quiet, professional, and familiar location for you in which to conduct your interview or recording. If you do not have that space at home, consider reserving a room at your local library or asking a friend who has a home office. Make sure the background of your location is not distracting and the location is well lit. Please note: A cell phone is not a good option for a video interview. You want to use a device — on a solid surface — to avoid unwanted movement and any distractions.
2. Choose your interview attire
Select and prepare your outfit ahead of the interview, making sure you are dressing as you would if it were an in-person interview. I know it might be tempting to only dress professionally from the waist up, but better safe than sorry in the event you have to get up and more of you comes into view than expected. I conducted a video interview with a client who did not realize I could see he was sitting on the edge of a bed in his underwear! I’m not kidding!
3. Check your device
Make sure you know how to turn off your device’s notifications or mute them during your interview and, of course, be sure your devices have adequate battery power for the duration of the interview. If the interview is live, you likely will receive an invitation to the interview, so be sure to download any software or plugins you will need.
4. Practice posture and eye gaze
Place your camera at eye level and run a quick test of both your camera and microphone to ensure all of your equipment is working properly. Make sure to prioritize “eye contact.” This will feel a bit unnatural — especially if the video is live — as you are going to want to look at the face of the person on the screen as you chat. You will need to remind yourself to look into the camera as you speak; when listening during the conversation, feel free to look at the screen. If you are recording an interview, perhaps have someone sit behind the camera to practice your eye contact. Pay attention to your posture — ensuring you are sitting straight — as you might be somewhere you feel overly comfortable, but you still need to be professional.
5. Assemble your cheat sheets
Set aside any materials you will need during the interview such as your resume, the posting of the job for which you applied, and any other documentation that will help you remember your messaging strategy. Having visual reminders of key scripts or responses could be helpful if you get flustered or particularly nervous during a certain part of the interview. Make sure it does not look like you are reading note cards; even just having them there — in case of an emergency — can take your blood pressure down a little!
6. Prepare for the unexpected
If a technical error were to occur, have a way to communicate with the person with whom you will be speaking, either by phone or by email. If there is an unplanned physical distraction (loud noise, siren, pets, children, etc.), apologize and request a moment to attend to the interruption, if needed. Also, make sure you know ahead of time how to mute the conversation!
Lastly, while this is a video interview, traditional in-person interview rules still apply. By practicing and preparing for this opportunity, you will be sure to let more of your authentic personality shine through and show the employer why you are a great candidate for the position and the company’s culture. I wish you the best of luck! I’d love to hear from any of my readers who have had recent video interview experiences; email me your stories and suggestions and I will be sure to share them in a future column.
Samantha Nolan is an Advanced Personal Branding Strategist and Career Expert, founder and CEO of Nolan Branding. Do you have a resume, career, or job search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at email@example.com. For information on Nolan Branding’s services, visit www.nolanbranding.com or call 888-9-MY-BRAND or 614-570-3442.