How to Succeed in a Video Interview

Posted by Ashley Jones
Cleared job seeker in a video interview

With stay at home orders and social distancing protocols in effect, many employers are opting for video interviews to keep the hiring process on track. If video conferencing is foreign to you, rest assured that many of the same things you’d do in person translate to the virtual interview environment. This means doing your homework, getting dressed to look the part, arriving on time, and adding some technology to the mix. Whether you’ve interviewed on a video platform before or you’re new to the virtual party, read these tips to ensure your next video interview goes off without a glitch.

Think of It Like a Face-To-Face Interview

The key to a successful video interview lies in treating it as closely to an in-person interview as possible. The fact that you’re at home, potentially wearing sweatpants, doesn’t make the process any less serious. In fact, trade those sweats for slacks and “Get dressed in the same way that you would for an in-person interview,” says Chesney Branson, Human Resources and Recruiting Coordinator, MJLM Federal Services. “Wear a nice shirt and put on pants.” While your web cam may only show your top half, be prepared below. If something unexpected requires you to stand up during your video interview, you’ll want your bottom half to match the professional attire you’re wearing up top.

So we’ve determined pants are a must, but do you need to wear a full suit to sit in front of your camera in your living room? That depends on the employer and what it means to dress the part in their eyes. “Do your research on the company and understand their standards,” suggests Lia Hassebrock, Vice President Recruiting, Kingfisher Systems. “Do not show up in a t-shirt if you would typically show up in professional attire.”

Once you’re dressed for success and waiting for your interview to begin, “Go over your notes,” says Jake Cianella, Chief of Talent Acquisition, DarkStar Intelligence. “Make sure you’ve done your research on LinkedIn or other sites, so that you know a little bit about the people that you are talking to—similar to what I hope people are doing before in-person interviews.” Researching the company and interviewers is a critical component of any interview. People hire people and you’re looking to show that you’ve done your homework and are serious about the position. You might even have something in common with the interviewer such as where you went to school—something that personalizes you and helps you connect. And as always come prepared with questions to ask in your interview.

Test Your Tech

Even if you’ve used a video platform before, you need to set aside time to test and troubleshoot. For instance, you might be comfortable with Zoom but the interviewer uses GoToMeeting instead. Once you know what service you’ll be using, “Test the software,” urges Krystan Silva, Manager, Talent Acquisition, NetImpact Strategies. “Ensure video and audio work well in advance of the actual interview time.”

Whenever possible, launch the software and run a practice session with a friend. Can your friend hear their own voice coming back from your end? Test sessions like this will help you understand what works best. In this case, you’d learn to wear headphones to eliminate feedback. And it’s always wise to have extra hardware at the ready like an additional headset if one stops working. Preparation will help you feel comfortable so that you can focus on what’s most important come interview time.

You may have tested your tech the previous day, but “Simulate arriving early to make sure that your internet, computer, camera, and microphone are working ahead of the interview,” advises Jake Cianella. And also take a moment to close and silence the applications that are running in the background of your computer. Not only does this limit potential distractions caused by notifications, but it can also help your processing power and bandwidth.

Furthermore, “If you’re going to do it on your phone, find a way to prop your phone up so that it’s not moving around,” says Chesney Branson. “Don’t walk around—focus on the person.” And “Make sure the phone or web camera is angled straight forward instead of upward—nobody wants to see up someone’s nose,” adds Krystan Silva. So be sure to position your camera at eye level or angled slightly above you.

It can also be difficult to know exactly where to look. How do you make eye contact when you’re looking at different areas of the screen that show the interviewer and yourself? “Consider putting a small sticker on your computer near where your eyes should look, as it may help to have something to concentrate on,” says Lia Hassebrock.

Control What You Can

One last major component of preparing for a video interview is choosing where to set up. “Make sure you are in a quiet place away from roommates, family, and pets,” suggests Krystan Silva. “Try to make sure your background is neutral, or at minimum, there’s nothing distracting or inappropriate.” Avoid areas that will pull focus from you. Is there a poster or pile of laundry in the background? A window that’s creating too much glare? Family members walking past you? While you can’t control everything, do what you can to limit interruptions. This might mean closing the door and asking family members or roommates to turn down the television or stay on the other side of the house until you come out.

While there may be sounds of your neighbor mowing the lawn or a pet in another room making occasional noises, know that it’s not an immediate deal breaker. “We are all in new and different times now,” reminds Lia Hassebrock. “If you cannot control your environment, let the interviewer know at the start, so the expectation is set upfront.” When interruptions or distractions arise, acknowledge them briefly, regain your composure, and focus on selling what you have to offer.

Once all is said and done, leave the meeting and close out of the software before jumping up and down in excitement and remember to send a follow-up note to all the individuals you interviewed with.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2020 12:18 pm

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