7 Tips to Preparing for a Video Interview

If you’re searching for a new job, you must be ready for an interview via video. More than 63 percent of human resources managers stated their company often conducts employment interviews via video, up from just 14 percent one year ago. So how can you ensure you impress the hiring manager via webcam? Check out these tips:

1. Take a trial run with video technology

If you have never participated in a video interview, you can avoid embarrassing mistakes by taking a test run on a video interview software. Ask a friend to be your interviewer. Then take half an hour to practice answering questions over Skype. This practice can calm nerves, address technical issues (like bad sound quality), and remove potential distractions (like the poster on the wall behind you).

— Alan Carniol, Interview Success Formula

2. Clear The Area

Don’t forget about your surroundings. Be sure to set up your connection in a quiet, distraction-free zone. Be sure what is behind you (and can be seen on the camera) is not distracting to the person conducting the interview and that the background provides a proper contrast to your profile; i.e., avoid the floating head. Finally, don’t forget to dress for this interview like you would a traditional interview. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you get to dress down.

— Kyle Foust, Mercyhurst University

3. Ready for your screen test?

Practice, practice, practice. If you’ve never done this before, you need to invest some time (maybe money) to prepare. Even though it’s done via a camera, you still need to make sure you’re making eye contact, sitting correctly, and not moving around in a way that will distract the interviewer.

— Paul Kostek, Air Direct Solutions

4. Smile for the Camera

It’s hard to pick just one tip, but the most important one is to “make eye contact” when you interview. This means that you must look directly at the lens of the camera, and not at your computer screen. This may feel awkward for some people. I recommend printing out a life-size face and mounting it so that the camera lens “looks” at you through the one of the face’s eyes. This may make it easier for you to look at the camera as you record your interview. (And don’t forget to smile!)

— Alfred Poor, America’s Success Mentor for Young Employees

5. Be aware of your visuals

It’s easy to imagine the video interview is just like an in-person meeting. But while the two share many similarities, the difference is you now control more of your visuals. For instance, be aware of what your background says about your candidacy. Pick a place to conduct your video interview that is clean and professional. Also, make sure you dress for the video interview like you would for any traditional in-person meeting.

— Josh Tolan, Spark Hire

6. Act Confident And Use The Law Of 3’s

I have two that are very important together:
1) Show confidence (even though you may not have it). How? Sit up tall, smile, use hand gestures.
2) “Dana’s Law of 3’s”: For every question, say no more than three short things, then stop talking. Yes, three things, then shut up! (We babble too much in interviews.)

— Dana Manciagli, Author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job (Spring 2013)

7. Avoid Overhead Lighting

On video, overhead lighting casts dark shadows, making you look underslept and ominous. Do a dry run before a video interview to check whether the lighting flatters you. You’ll do better with side lighting or lighting from below. If you have to move around the lamps in your room, so be it.

— Dorie Clark, Author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future

Have you interviewed via online video before? What tips would you add? Let us know in the comments below!

By Heather R. Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals.