Businesses have been using video interviews to screen candidates ever since they could.

And since early 2020, after Covid-19 forced many businesses to work from home, this job interview method has gone mainstream.

Knowing how to interview via Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype has become mandatory. 

We offer several tips for performing well in an online video interview.

Why an Online Video Interview?

This video interview method is a candidate screening tactic, often used when companies want the chance to meet possible future employees outside of their immediate location.

A video interview is particularly useful in a global business environment for people looking to relocate, or in extreme situations such as the COVID-19 outbreak when companies find it wiser to avoid working with others in an office for health reasons.

As part of the screening process, the online video interview usually replaces a phone screening or in-person interview.

At first glance, you may think, “Great! I can interview from home!” However, the communication styles between “video” and “in-person” interviews are very different.

There are many things you must consider in order to make a professional first impression without the usage of eye contact or body language.  

1. Create A Professional Setting

Before your next video interview, turn on your video camera and perform a test video call with someone you know on the platform you will be using for your interview.

Analyze what you are seeing and be hypercritical of your appearance. Remove any and all distracting items that will take the focus off of you.

As you look at yourself in the camera, start to ask yourself these questions:

  • Will they see a personal object of mine I don’t want or need them to see?
  • How do I appear on camera? Is there anything I should clean up?
  • Are there strange things in the background that may raise an eyebrow or two?

If it is not related to business, remove it from the view of the camera.

Just like the interviews you see in news programs and social media, you are “setting up the shot” for your next video interview. 

This may sound like a skillset for someone in the entertainment business, but the job interviewer will be talking to a screen with a 2D image of you.

It will feel very similar to making an appearance in a television broadcast or video podcast.

If you appear to be someone who is not taking care of yourself, it will impact the interviewer’s first impression of you.  

2. Clean up Your Audio and Video Quality

You are interviewing for a professional position, and therefore, you should have professional audio and video quality. This is all about your professional image and sound.

You can improve the video and audio quality of your interview in a few ways.

Use a high-speed internet connection

Aim for an upload/download speed of at least 50 Mbps.

HIgh-speed internet prevents your call from cutting out, freezing, or dropping completely. 

Ethernet cable connections do provide faster, more reliable connections than WiFi for video calls. If a job is at stake, it is recommended to use an Ethernet cable for the interview to prevent loss of signal.

Invest in a USB mic

The improved audio quality will allow the interviewer to hear you clearly. You will sound better, too. Laptop mics are usually located near the speaker and sound terrible. Don’t worry about the cost of a mic. You will use it for many interviews and they last a very long time, even when you buy new computers.

You can find a Samson mic or podcast mic, for example, at a very low price.

Invest in a quality USB camera

When you want to look your best to a complete stranger, a grainy image from a laptop camera will not do the trick. Consider investing in a quality camera that shows a clean and crisp image of you.

3. Keep It Quiet

Audio distractions can be silenced by making sure all social media notifications, phones, alarms, etc. are turned off. However, you cannot stop cars from honking or residual noise from outside, especially if you live in a metropolitan area.

Video distractions happen. Companies have been very sympathetic during Covid-19 with the understanding that many job seekers are also now monitoring their children’s at-home learning.

Regardless, distractions can pull your focus away from the task at hand: performing well in a job interview.

Try to make sure you find a peaceful place to have your job interview. 

If for some reason that professional image of your interview is broken by the sound of a child or pet entering the room, a doorbell, etc. do not panic! If it becomes obvious that there is a distraction in the room, handle it with a cool and calm demeanor!

After all, you want to be viewed as someone who stays cool under pressure. Things happen. How you respond to adversity says a great deal about you.  

4. Dress Like It’s an In-Person Interview

Studies have shown companies are more judgmental of appearances on video because they are without the benefits of seeing a person’s body language or direct eye contact.

In addition to this, video interviews are often used as a screening method to see if an in-person interview is necessary.

Therefore, how you present yourself in the video interview will most likely determine if they want to meet you in-person. Dress like you would for an in-person interview!

If this all sounds like too much, ask yourself these simple questions:

  • If you were hiring any employee, would you want to meet a candidate in person, who interviewed in his/her bathrobe or pajamas?
  • Or would you rather meet the person who seems to dress appropriately for interviews, has a clean office, and presents him/herself with a professional image, even though they were at home?

5. Keep Answers Short and Sweet

Video interviews have the potential to be really boring.

Interviews in-person are more engaging because of things like body language and eye contact between the interviewer and job candidate. When you remove this, the potential for losing a person’s attention sets in for both parties, especially if the person on the screen is rambling on with an answer.

The last thing you want to do is make the recruiter or hiring manager sleepy. Therefore, because you are at home and they are looking at you on a screen, it is best to make your video interviews short and sweet.  

Key Takeaways

The ultimate goal of your video interview is to make sure the company cannot wait to meet you. On a grand scale, companies in the USA are thinking globally.

The United States is now responsible for 84% of the world’s media and everyone with a camera on their phone has the potential to be a freelance video journalist. A positive company image is something companies know will influence sales and growth. They want employees who have a worldly understanding of a “professional media image”.

They will get a great idea of how you professionally present yourself by your communication style on video. Your ability to communicate your awareness of image surely will make you an attractive employee. Your awareness of what others will be concerned about, and addressing such concerns proactively, will go a long way to show a company you can be a trusted employee.