10 Tips to Ace Your Video Interview!

Cropped Image Of Businesswoman Using Laptop At Desk

Do you have an online video interview coming up? You haven’t done one before or are anxious about how to impress your interviewers on camera?

I’m going to give you 10 Tips to help you look good, feel confident, impress your interviewers, and make your video interview go smoothly!

Regardless of where you are in the world, we’ve all been impacted in one way or another by the current COVID-19 pandemic.  With new social distancing guidelines, many employers are moving towards conducting interviews by online video for at least your stage 1 interview.

So today, I’m going to tell you how to set-up your environment for your video interview, make you aware of what can help you look great on camera, what to plan for, and give you my number one BEST TIP to keep you feeling confident and help you ACE your video interview.

To make things simple, here are my Top 10 Tips on Video Interviewing:

#1. Equipment – You can use a tablet or phone for your video interview, but ideally you want a large screen so I recommend using a laptop, or desktop computer if you can. If you are using a tablet or phone – do not hold it in your hand while being interviewed, make sure you use a secure stand and do not walk and talk – it will cause your screen to shake and your background to be constantly moving, it’s unprofessional, and will give your interviewers a bad impression.

Red circle with text reading "Quiet Please"

#2. A Quiet Environment – Make sure you have a quiet space to hold your interview that is free from distractions and background noise. If you have children have a friend or relative look after them for a couple of hours. The same goes if you have noisy pets. Screeching birds and barking dogs make it hard for interviewers to hear you clearly, it distorts your sound and it could mean the difference between getting the job or a secondary interview!

#3. Test Your Video and Microphone Equipment – Take the time the day before or a few hours before your interview to test your video and microphone. Don’t wait until 5 minutes before your video call to find out your microphone isn’t working, or your webcam is dirty. Ask a friend to setup up a video meeting with you so to test your sound and ask for feedback about how you look on camera.

#4. Carefully Pick Your Background – Try to avoid using fake backgrounds. I’ve had several meetings with people using fake backgrounds and it can be annoying when they move their head as while they’re talking it creates a halo distortion of their image. I get it, … maybe you don’t have a clean space with a nice tidy background, or you just don’t want people to see inside your house. However, using these backgrounds can be distracting for the interviewer.

Sit in a chair with a blank wall close behind you, use a small desk, folding table, or a stand to put your laptop on in front of you. You want your screen to be level with your face. If you must, stack some books or a box on the table to raise your webcam to face level. By sitting with a wall behind you, it makes your background smaller so you can keep that pile of dirty dishes or those kids’ toys out of view…. And the closer you have your webcam to you, the smaller your background will be, so the focus of your interviewers remains on you.

If you have a double chin or neck fat (like me!), place your laptop a little higher than eye level – not a lot, just a couple of inches, it will help prevent that double chin appearance and give you a nicer facial posture. It’s also great to practice ahead of time with a friend so they can advise you on any adjustments you should make.

#5. Plugin Your Laptop – This might sound either unimportant or like common sense, but I discovered the hard way during a Zoom call. My laptop wasn’t plugged in, so it got hot faster and the fan kicked on and was a bit noisy – it sounded like a bee was trapped in my microphone and was very irritating to the person I was talking to. Also, you don’t want to run the risk of your computer shutting down because your battery ran out or your battery running low message to pop-up up on your screen and distract you.

Turn off notifications icon#6. Turn Off Notifications – I love it when I get that new recipe pop up from my favourite recipe site or Facebook reminds me it’s my friend’s birthday today…. just not when I’m in the middle of an interview. So, make sure to go into your operating system settings and change or temporarily disable your notifications. Speaking of noises and notifications, make sure your cell phone ringer is also turned off…..not on vibrate! It is vital to turn all sounds off during your interview.

#7. Lighting – It is very important to have good lighting during your video interview. If you don’t, you’re going to look like a dark shadow, and interviewers want to see your face clearly. You don’t want to have a light directly above your head or a ceiling light in the background behind you. You want to have as much light as possible in front of you.

Try to sit facing a window if possible. However, if your interview is not in the summer or during daylight hours then obviously this won’t help so in that case try to have a couple of lamps near you but behind your laptop screen. To discover what works best, experiment with a friend on what the lighting looks like with lampshades on or off, sometimes shades off and lamps a little further away work well. But it all depends on the size of your room, number and size of windows, wall colour and so on.

Alternatively, if you think you will be holding lots of video interviews or holding video meetings in your future job, you could consider investing in an inexpensive selfie light ring. The one I use cost me $25.99 Canadian through Amazon.ca. It has a USB connection and plugs directly into your laptop and it works great! You can follow this link to buy it now (https://www.amazon.ca/selfielightCanada or https://www.amazon.com/selfielightUS)!

Keep good eye contact#8. Eye Contact – One of the trickiest things about video interviews is remembering to look at your tiny camera lens when you talk, not the people on your screen. Otherwise, your interviewers never actually feel like you are holding eye contact, which can take some practice However, you don’t need to stare at your camera lens the entire time either, because that’s also not natural. Instead, look at the person on the screen when they are speaking to you. When it is your turn to speak try to remember to look at your camera lens as much as possible, but if you forget – don’t beat yourself up. Video conferencing is new to everyone so lots of people make this mistake.

#9. What to Wear – You must treat your video interview the same as you would if you were going to an in-person interview. So, you need to dress to impress; make sure you look well-groomed and think about what colour top you will wear in comparison to your background. If you have a white wall as your background, don’t wear white. Instead, wear a colour that contrasts the white wall, but preferably not black as black doesn’t show up well on camera and makes most people look washed out. If you are in a room with poor lighting, wear a lighter coloured top. Don’t wear something busy like paisley, polka dots or stripes as they don’t show up as well on camera and can even give a dizzying effect to your viewers. As for jewelry, keep it simple, (not too sparkly or reflective) especially if using a selfie light.

#10. Dealing with Camera Anxiety – If you’re someone who gets anxious on camera, is shy, or just plain nervous in interviews and you tend to blank out or get stuck on your thoughts, put sticky notes around the outside of your screen. Write trigger words on the sticky notes that will help you remember the story examples that you should have been practicing ahead of time. You can also list your key strengths or skills on your sticky notes so if you get struck by a sudden attack of panic and your brain goes blank you can quickly regain your confidence.

computer screen with sticky notes

With all of this in mind, it is also important to remember to relax, smile, and be yourself. This is your chance to impress your potential new employer but also where you to get to know each other a little to see if the job opportunity is a mutually good fit for both them and you.  Your cheat sheet sticky notes will be there for you if you get nervous and suddenly go blank – so sit back, smile, and let your light shine!

What you’ve learned here today is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to job search strategies and tips. To learn more, check out my YouTube channel (VirtualJobSearchCoach), where I post new content every week to help job seekers like you, determine, pursue, and land their dream job!

If you would like one-to-one coaching to equip you with the confidence, necessary tools, critical knowledge, and strategies to find and land your ideal job  – then let’s talk! You can book a complimentary 15-minute discovery call directly in my calendar at https://calendly.com/virtualstacey and let’s chat about how I can help you fast-track your job search success.

Written by Stacey Davidson

Hi, I’m Stacey Davidson, after 18 years mostly in recruitment, HR, and management roles, I left the corporate world, became certified as a Professional in Career Management and started my own business in 2008 as a Career Coach, Job Search Strategist, Resume Writer, Contract Recruiter and I’m an expert in Behavioural-based interviewing. (I know, It’s a lot of hats!) For the past 12 years I’ve been teaching and empowering people just like you to define their dream job, power up their Job Search, and land in a career they love. My goal is to positively impact the lives of 1 million job seekers over the next 20 years. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more great info and resources.

May 11, 2020

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