Lights, Camera, Hired: A Comprehensive Guide to Video Interviews

Posted by Ashley Jones
video interviews

Over the last several years, many people have gotten more comfortable with video chatting, whether it’s to FaceTime a relative or hop on Zoom for a work meeting, virtual class, or to connect with friends. But that’s not all—this technology is also relevant to your cleared job search.

In today’s hiring landscape, video interviews have become a staple in the recruitment process. Read the following tips to make sure you’re ready to give a successful on-camera performance in your next video interview for a cleared job.

Test Your Tech

Test your tech in advance to avoid last-minute issues. Confirm your internet connectivity, camera, and microphone functionality. Conduct a trial run with a friend on the platform you’ll be using to familiarize yourself with the interface and troubleshoot potential problems. Even if you’ve used the platform before, you’ll want to log in prior to your interview to make sure you have a current version and won’t be delayed with a software update.

Simulate Arriving Early

Mimic arriving early by checking your tech once again on the day of the interview. Verify that your internet and your device is functioning properly. Also close any background applications to minimize distractions and optimize processing power.

Control Your Environment

Choose a quiet space free of people and pets, ensuring a distraction-free meeting. Inform anyone around you about the interview time and close windows and doors to reduce external sounds. If interruptions are unavoidable, inform the interviewer at the start to manage expectations. Or if something happens mid-interview like the doorbell ringing due to an Amazon delivery, simply apologize for the interruption, stay calm, and move forward.

Optimize Your Background

Opt for a clutter-free and well-lit space to create a professional setting. Positioning yourself against a blank wall and removing personal items is better than a distracting background that will have interviewers inspecting your surroundings instead of listening to what you have to say. Yes, if in sight, people will try to read book titles or notes on a whiteboard. So keep your background simple to keep the attention on you. And ditch the virtual backgrounds unless you have a green screen. They look cheesy and are often more distracting than helpful.

Dress for Success from Top to Bottom

Dress professionally for your video interviews, even if the webcam only captures your upper half. Consult your recruiter if you’re unsure about the dress code. Being prepared from head to toe ensures you present a polished image, even if an unexpected situation requires you to stand up. Wearing professional attire will also help to boost your confidence and get you in the right frame of mind.

Use Professional Usernames and Pictures

If you’re using a video chat platform that uses display names or profile pictures, be sure yours are accurate and professional. These small details contribute to a positive first impression before the camera turns on. Doublechecking these elements can also avoid confusion if you’re logging in from a family member’s account.

Test Your Lighting

Experiment with different lighting setups to find the most flattering and professional look. Position yourself facing natural light or use soft artificial lighting to avoid harsh shadows and glare. You don’t need to buy fancy lighting setups, just be sure that your face isn’t in the shadows. It’s as simple as putting your light source in front of you, not behind you.

Pick Your Camera Placement

Position your camera at eye level to create a natural line of sight. Use a laptop stand or stack books if needed. Maintain eye contact by looking into the camera rather than the screen. If you have multiple monitors, be sure your video chat window is open on the monitor that also has your camera, so you don’t appear to be staring off in a different direction. Also be sure you’re not sitting too far away. Your face and shoulders should ideally fill most of the screen.

Think About Audio Quality

Invest in a quality headset versus using your built-in computer microphone and speakers, to ensure clear audio and prevent feedback and echoes. If you use wired earbuds, make sure they also have a microphone built in so that your mic is located close to your mouth. Watch out for microphones rubbing on your collar or hair that might cause distortion. Background noise or poor audio quality can be distracting and hinder effective communication during the interview. This leads to the importance of stable internet, because audio quality won’t matter if you’re constantly breaking up or lagging.

Have an Internet Backup Plan

Have a backup plan for internet connectivity issues. Keep a mobile hotspot or alternative internet source on standby to seamlessly switch if your primary connection fails.

Prepare for Technical Glitches

Familiarize yourself with the platform’s features and have a plan for common technical glitches. Have backup devices ready, including an extra headset or computer if available to you. Technical malfunctions can happen unexpectedly, and having alternatives on hand ensures you can quickly address any issues that arise. It’s best to have your contact’s phone number so you can promptly call them if you experience technical interruptions.

Treat it Like A Face-To-Face Interview

The key to successful video interviews lies in treating them as closely to an in-person interview as possible. So beyond the technical aspects we covered, prepare as you normally would by conducting research on the company and individuals you’ll be speaking with.

Leverage your network to uncover contacts within the company to connect with someone who can provide valuable information not available in the job posting. Develop success stories from your career, highlighting relevant accomplishments to give you confidence and help you shine. And remember to come ready with thoughtful questions.

It also doesn’t hurt to rehearse with a trusted friend. Practicing will help you articulate your thoughts more clearly.

Check out these additional blogs for more interviewing advice, to make sure you impress whether you’re participating in video interviews or in-person interviews.

There you have it – you’ve just leveled up your interviewing game. Good luck, and may your next video interview lead to your next cleared job!


  • 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 Monday, December 11, 2023 9:00 am

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