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14 Top Tips for Video Interviews

July 29, 2020
Gareth Whyatt

Interviews can be daunting at the best of times, but for those that aren’t’ used to them – video interviews can especially nerve-wracking.

The key here is preparation. By fully preparing for your video interview, you can ensure you are more confident and comfortable throughout your interview, bringing your best self to the conversation.

Below we have put together a comprehensive guide to video interviews to help you through the process.


Download and get familiar with the app

If you are not familiar with Teams, Zoom or Google Hangouts then get familiar with it and practice, even down to how the app sends out your personal meeting link and access code. Did their email go to your junk or spam folder?


Practice with a friend… and record it!

Practice some traditional interview as well as behavioural questions with a friend.

But here’s where Zoom really shines in particular: Record your practice interviews.

Zoom lets you record your video calls which makes it an incredible tool for job interview preparation. By going over your recording you can optimise a lot in your interview performance:

  • How is the lighting?
  • Are you fidgeting too much?
  • Are you not smiling enough? Too much?
  • How is your eyeline?
  • Is the video quality and audio quality good?

 Do you need some more help in preparing for interviews? Read our guide to Preparing for an Interview. 


 Use a background .…if you need it!

One of the unique features that some video apps have, are virtual backgrounds. If the location you’re using is either too messy, has too many distractions etc, consider using one of the professional virtual backgrounds(Practice with it first to see if it looks good.)

  • Don’t spoil your appearance with a messy background. You can take one of two approaches to backgrounds. One is to keep it simple. A blank wall, for instance. It’s boring, but it’s neutral. The other—better— option is to create a background that says something about who you are as a candidate. We find it’s especially important to at least appear to be in a home office if you’re applying for a remote position. This communicates that you’ve spent time and resources creating a space that allows you to work effectively.
  • IMPORTANT: If you want to use this tip, be sure you have an account on the app before your video interview and that you have a virtual background set up and activated in your profile. It’s not going to look good if you try and set one up mid-job interview!


 Use a “Cheatsheet”

This tip applies to all video and phone interviews but it’s still a valuable one to bring up. While we do recommend bringing a cheat sheet into an in-person as well, they can be especially valuable in video interviews. If you carefully place it below the camera’s view you can occasionally reference it if you get lost or want to remind yourself of questions you wanted to ask the hiring manager.


Use the “Mute” button in case of emergency

If you get hit with a sneezing or coughing fit you can use the mute button to cut off your audio.


 Use a professional profile name

Be sure that your profile name (if you make or already have an account) is professional. The simplest thing is to use your full name as your profile name.


 ALWAYS Test Run

  • Check for Audio Issues
  • When you do your test run be sure you rigorously check your audio.
  • Is there an echo at all?
  • This is surprising to some people, but bad audio is often worse than bad video.Hiring managers would rather hear you perfectly with a few hiccups in the video feed, rather than the reverse.
  • If you are dealing with an audio echo (one of the most common problems), fix them with this audio echo troubleshooting guide from Zoom.


Close programs on your computer or laptop

This is an easy one to forget. You want to close down all your programs for a couple of reasons.

Close down programs to avoid a slow-down of your operating system than could affect the video and audio feed.  Close down programs so your interview isn’t interrupted by any alert chimes or popups.


Pay attention to lighting

Overhead fluorescent or incandescent lighting is not the most flattering. You want to make sure your lighting is in front of you since light from behind isn’t flattering either.  You don’t need a professional light kit but you do need to think about how you can use natural light from windows to project a clear and detailed image of your face.

Try sitting in front of a window, allowing the light to hit you directly. At most times of the day, this will provide perfect, even lighting. However, if the sun is low, it may be too bright. In that case, move around until the light is diffused on your face. With computer cameras, backlighting never woks, so always avoid putting the light source behind you.


Wear earphones if your practise call showed up issues with sound or a lag

Technology isn’t perfect. There’s a chance there could be a lag, which causes an echo if you’re not wearing headphones. Headphones also improve sound quality and help block out distracting noises.


Don’t interject

In a face-to-face interview, interjecting is minimally disruptive but in a video interview, it’s best to let the hiring manager or recruiter finish their thought before jumping in. A tiny lag can throw off the rhythm and make your interjection—even when you intended it to be gentle and polite—sound like a rude interruption.


Video interview body language

  • Eye contact is very important during an in-person interview, and you want to convey that same level of connection during a video interview. Here’s how: Avoid the instinct to look directly at your interviewer on the screen while you’re answering a question. Instead, when you speak, you want to direct your gaze at the webcam. When you do this, your eyes are more likely to align with the interviewer’s eyes on the other end. When you’re listening, you can look back at the screen.
  • Throughout the interview, keep your mood upbeat and convey optimism with your body language. One way to achieve this is to have good posture. Sit in your chair with your back straight and your shoulders open. Feet can be planted on the floor and arms can rest in your lap or on the desk.
  • When you’re listening, nod and smile when appropriate to communicate that you’re giving them your full attention. Use hand gestures when it feels appropriate and keep your movements close to your body. Avoid fidgeting or letting your gaze drift away from the device.


 Take It Seriously

  • Having a video interview can give some people a sense of comfort. Which can be a good thing. After all, you’re often in the comfort of your own home and therefore will feel less nervous and more confident. This is one of the great benefits of video interviews.
  • But be careful you don’t let this sense of comfort go too far!
  • You need to treat your video interview just the same as if it was an in-person interview.
  • Be dressed appropriately and as smartly as you would for a face to face interview and be focused, have questions to ask, be prepared for behavioural interview questions


On the day of your interview, review this checklist as you’re setting up:

  • Ensure that you won’t be interrupted, either by locking the door or by alerting others that you can’t be disturbed (a note on the door of the room as well as the door to the outside may be helpful).
  • Clear the desk space, except for a notepad and pen for you to take notes.
  • Have a copy of your CV and any other notes ready for you to reference.
  • Set out a glass (not bottle) of water for yourself.
  • Check that your webcam is working.
  • Check that your audio is working.
  • Close any windows, tabs or applications on your computer that you’re not using.
  • Check your internet connection and make sure you’re not downloading anything in the background.
  • Set your phone to silent.


If you are looking for your next career move and are looking for roles in the food manufacturing, FMCG or engineering sectors, or perhaps you are looking for a role in recruitment, get in touch with The Sterling Choice team today.

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About The Author

Gareth Whyatt

After 12 years’ experience within the industry predominantly focusing on Operations and Supply Chain, founding The Sterling Choice has provided me with the opportunity to take a step back and focus on my passion for developing people and teams! As the self-proclaimed Head of Training I love seeing people develop and grow through the recruitment ranks and ultimately achieving both their personal and business goals.

For me The Sterling Choice is all about fun, results and collective success

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