Updated: Jun 8, 2020
Video job interviews have been a part of the interview process for years, but as Employers and Job Seekers update their hiring practices post COVID19, the hiring loop is shifting primarily to virtual. This article is a guide on how to prepare your environment, your technology, and yourself for a successful video job interview.
We all know the value of a great first impression. For a Job Seeker, the first impression is the difference between being offered the ideal position, or being passed-over for another candidate, perhaps one even less qualified.
When meeting an interviewee face-to-face, first impressions are likely determined by your smile, handshake (elbow bump), how you are dressed, engagement with your interviewer (maintaining eye contact and ability to build a rapport), summarizing experiences and sharing examples, or asking relevant questions.
During a video interview, first impressions remain important, though there are even more factors to keep in mind. Here are several tips to get you started:
Recording and Streaming
Have you ever watched a show on Netflix or listened to a song on Spotify, only to have it skip, lag, or stop all together due to your internet connectivity? The frustration you feel in that moment will be minor compared to the frustration of having your interview lag or sound cut out.
Make sure you have a reliable internet connection: While this may seem obvious, this is perhaps the most important step in a solid video interview. If you know internet connectivity is a problem, make sure to tell those in your household not to stream anything during your interview. If you are really concerned, call your internet provider and ask them to increase your bandwidth for the day, or for a period of time. You'll end up paying a prorated amount for the upgrade, but if it helps you feel more confident in your interview, it will be money well spent.
Be Aware of Your Environment
Being aware of your environment is often overlooked but very important! You do not want a roommate turning on a loud TV, a spouse or child walking through your interview, a loud dog or snuggly cat on a chair in the corner to distract you or the interviewer. Dark rooms or clutter and messes are also unprofessional. Make sure your space is clean and neat with no loud noises, distracting pets, or messes.
Let your roommates, spouse, or children know you’ll be busy in an interview during a set period of time.
Put your pets away, or ask someone to take your dog or bird out so there’s no loud barking or squawking in the background.
Choose a room for your interview that has natural light and is relatively clean and neat. No beds, kitchens or clutter in the background!
Keep your camera at eye level. You do not want your laptop or other device sitting on your lap or at unflattering angles. Though it may be difficult and feel unnatural, maintain eye contact with the camera, at least while you are talking. Moving around a lot or swiveling in a chair is distracting and makes you look nervous. Lighting is also very important so turn on lamps, open shades, make sure there is adequate lighting behind you to put your best foot, and face, forward.
Keep your camera at eye level during the interview.
Maintain eye contact with the camera. This may take some practice.
Stay still during your interview. Moving around or fidgeting will make you look nervous or uneasy. Sit in a stationary chair.
Turn on lamps and open shades to make sure your environment is well lit. One or two lamps facing you on either side of your laptop or webcam will make all the difference.
Make sure your background is properly lit as well.
Figure Out Your Equipment
Don't use your built in camera as they tend to be low quality, so invest some money in to an inexpensive, external HD web camera. This can make a huge difference in the quality of your interview. Also, audio is paramount! No matter how great your picture is, if the interviewer can't hear you, it doesn't matter how great your responses are, you are not getting that job. So definitely purchase an external microphone and test out your audio levels before the interview.
Buy an inexpensive, external HD webcam and microphone.
Plug in your ethernet cable so that audio and visual will stream properly (wifi is no good in this situation). You do not want a choppy feed.
Give yourself time to test your equipment and make changes if needed.
Know your streaming service. Do run-throughs to make sure your audio and visual equipment works with your streaming service. Figure out the parameters you might need to fix such as selecting the proper audio and making sure your camera is selected.
Test Your Setup
Having your equipment figured out and working is a huge weight off your shoulders. So now that that is done, ask a friend to do a test run with you on the video software which will be used in the interview, so you can see what your interview might look like to a potential employer. Most video interview software products like Zoom and Hangouts have recording functions so you can review after.
You'll also want to select your audio and video setting ahead of time. Make sure in the setting of the video conference software you have selected the proper microphone and speaker.
Pay Attention to:
Anything else that may be distracting
During the Interview
Last, here are a few tips and tricks during your interview, so you can be focused and ready to answer questions you may need support or guidance on.
Position the video window of the interviewer as close as you can to your webcam so that you are not looking away from the webcam or diverting your eyes too long if you feel the need to look at them.
Write important questions or topics on sticky notes and position them around your webcam so that you can still maintain eye contact while asking your questions.
The hiring process has forever changed and will only move towards more video and likely even virtual methods for job candidacy. Taking the steps now to learn how to navigate video communication could lead to more opportunities in the future.
HireStreams is a video and media platform which allows Job Seekers the ability to create custom profiles to showcase their backgrounds, talents, skills, and experience, via customized personal videos which can be shared with Employers who are actively searching for candidates.
Job Seeker can get started creating their Video Profile by answering a few quick questions.
Employers can stream Video Interview Profiles to find the perfect candidate by simply creating a HireStreams Employer Account.