Right now—and for the foreseeable future—job interviews will mostly be conducted by Skype, Zoom, or some other video platform. As videos interviews replace the traditional in-person interview, it’s worth reviewing a few tips so you present yourself in the best light.
1. Dress the part.
The tendency in video interviews is to dress more casually than you would if you were in the employer’s office. This is a mistake—you should always dress like the employer.
On camera, certain patterns or colours can affect picture quality and be distracting to the viewer. You should avoid stripes and small patterns. Similarly, white shirts when worn with a black or dark suit can make you look washed out.
2. Organize your surroundings.
I’ve interviewed people whose computer was in their bedroom and there was an unmade bed behind them. Another person’s cat kept jumping up on her lap during the interview. Your surroundings reflect on your professionalism, so pay attention.
If possible, choose a clean, uncluttered background and eliminate any distracting objects or noises.
3. Use proper lighting to look your best.
Overhead lighting or light from behind you will tend to wash out your face. The best type of lighting is natural light on your face. If you don’t have natural light, use a small lamp to illuminate your face.
4. Consider using a headset and external camera.
Most computers have decent cameras and microphones built in. However, if you want to improve voice volume and picture quality you might consider a headset and external webcam. I use a Logitech headset that sells for $69. The webcam I use is a Logitech C270 HD camera that sells for $39.
5. Test your internet connection.
Make sure you have strong internet connection so there are no breaks or delays during the interview. And always get the interviewer’s telephone number. That way you can call them immediately if there is a technical glitch of any sort.
6. Look at the camera, not yourself.
If you are using a laptop, elevate it so that the camera is at eye level. During the interview, keep your eyes focused on the camera so it appears you are looking at the interviewer.
7. Don’t be checking your email.
The interviewer can see you and it’s obvious what you are doing. The best practice is to close out all other programs on your computer so you won’t be tempted at all.
8. First impressions count.
Make sure your username and profile picture present you in a professional way. Please: no pictures of pets or inappropriate images. If you want, you can always create a second account for friends and family.
9. Set up your contact details in advance.
You should send these at least a day before the interview so the employer has plenty of time to accept. At the same time, determine who is going to initiate the call. Usually the employer does it but don’t take anything for granted.
Talking into a computer screen will feel awkward but a few rehearsals should ease those concerns. You will learn how to use the technology and how to present yourself professionally.
A final tip: If you are not already a Skype or Zoom user, commit to setting up an account over the next few days and testing it with a friend or family member so you know how it works. I can think of several times when I had a planned video interview set up with a candidate but they hadn’t bothered to figure it out beforehand. The result was they missed their interview and did not leave a favourable impression at all.