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Video interviews are here to stay: How to adapt on camera

September 28, 2022 - 13 min read

businessman-waving-at-the-computer-video-interview

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The types of video interviews

8 tips to prepare for your interview

Mastering your interview body language

Show them what you offer

In 2006, a group of researchers wanted to know the minimum amount of time required to form an impression of a person. They presented photographs of 66 faces, split evenly between men and women, to a group of strangers.

Here’s what they found: 100ms was enough to form an impression about a person. Longer exposure time didn’t make a difference. If anything, adding extra milliseconds allowed judges to solidify their first impressions.

If a person can judge you solely on a photo, imagine what this means for video interviews. What do hiring managers think when they see your webcam image?

Virtual job interviews hit the mainstream with the rise of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. And it looks like it’s here to stay: 22% of recruiters say they’ll be all-virtual for the foreseeable future. 

The interview process is scary on the best of days, so here are some video interview tips to help you knock yours out of the park.

The types of video interviews

Video interviews differ from other evaluations, like phone interviews, working interviews, or informational interviews. Generally, your video interview will fall into one of two categories: live or on-demand.

A live video interview is just like in person but conducted through a real-time video chat. A hiring coordinator sends the job candidate a meeting invitation with a link and they join then a virtual room with the interviewers. This process might vary depending on the company’s preferred interview platform. But Zoom is the most popular video conferencing platform, surpassing Google Hangouts and Microsoft’s Skype.

An on-demand interview is similar to a live one, but it’s basically a pre-recorded video interview. The “interviewer” will send you a list of questions. You then record your responses and send them back as a video file. The interviewer will evaluate you when it’s convenient for them.

Most interviews, whether live or on-demand, last between 30–60 minutes. Sometimes they’re shorter, but rarely longer.

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8 tips to prepare for your interview

Just like a regular interview, video conversations with prospective employers require careful preparation. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a video interview.

1. Keep a clean background for your video interview

You control what’s in the frame during a video chat. Before you sign on, use your camera app to see what’s visible in the background. Make sure everything is neat and tidy before meeting your interviewers.

businesswoman-on-the-phone-video-interview

2. Avoid awkward camera angles

Make sure your camera angle is ideal. Positioning your webcam at eye level will help avoid awkward looks up your nostrils or under your chin. If you’re working off a laptop or tablet, placing your device on a pile of books will help with this.

It would help if you also sat far enough from the camera that the interviewer can see you, but not so far that you appear small in the distance. Frame yourself like a passport photo. They should only see you from below your neck up to the top of your head.

3. Use natural light

Make sure you’re in a well-lit room. Your face should be visible, without any shadows or glare. Natural lighting works best here. Try to position yourself in front of a window so a soft light fills out your face. If that’s not an option, a ring light can give you similar results.

4. Limit distractions

Turn off your phone and pick an interview room where your roommates, family, or pets won’t distract you. Most interviewers will understand if your toddler comes running unexpectedly, but a roommate watching TV next to you is a different story.

5. Dress to impress

Pick clothes as you would for an in-person interview. Your goal is to make a great first impression — clothes can speak louder than words.

And don’t forget the pants! Even if the interviewer never sees your slacks, wearing them can help you feel put-together and on top of your game. Plus, if there’s an emergency and you have to stand up, you don’t want the recruiter to see you were in basketball shorts the whole time.

6. Master the “digital handshake”

When you interview in person, there’s usually a brief exchange of pleasantries and a handshake before sitting down for the Q&A. The interview may not have officially “started,” but the hiring managers are already forming an impression of you.

According to proper video etiquette, a similar moment occurs during video interviews. There’s usually a bit of time to settle in and make small talk as you wait for everyone to join the video call. Remember to smile and make eye contact through the camera. This will help you communicate warmth and openness — two things that are good in a first impression.

7. Test your equipment

Virtual interviews are at the mercy of technology. Sometimes, glitches are unavoidable. But here’s how you can minimize the risk of technical difficulties: 

  • Make sure your laptop is fully charged. Ideally, your computer will be plugged-in during the interview. But having a full battery will protect you if you need to disconnect from power.
  • Test your mic and camera beforehand. Open your device’s built-in camera app to test the video and sound. Record yourself to make sure there are no unexpected noises or glitches in the image. This is also a good time to set up your viewing angle and clean up your background.
  • Make sure your internet works. WiFi is convenient, but the wireless signal can be finicky. Make sure you can at least play a YouTube video before joining your interview. Alternatively, to further secure your Internet connection, you can connect to your router using an ethernet cable. 
  • Download, install, and update your video interview software. It’s easier than ever to install and update software, but things can still go wrong. Make sure you’re not caught red-handed five minutes before your interview. Install and update your video platform well before clicking the link to join.
  • Activate “do not disturb” mode on all of your devices. This means your phone and the device you’re interviewing from. Intrusive notifications and noises can easily ruin an otherwise great interview answer.

chef-doing-a-video-video-interview

8. Always overprepare

Read about the company, memorize the job description, pick the accomplishments you want to self-promote, and prepare your answers for common interview questions. 

You can’t predict what your recruiter will ask, but there are some common questions you might encounter:

  • “Tell us about yourself.”
  • “Why do you want this job?”
  • “Why should we hire you?”
  • “What’s your greatest weakness?”

Plus, if you’ve interviewed with a few companies already, you may have noticed common questions specific to your industry. There might be some classic “Tell me about a time when…” questions you’ve heard variations of in every interview. Think about how you answered them and how you can improve. 

Trying to land your next big interview? BetterUp can help. Our coaches help top talent in their job search. You’ll learn to network like a pro, follow up after interviews, and reach the next step in the hiring process.

Mastering your interview body language

In a video interview, the hiring team can’t see most of your body. But that doesn’t affect the overall importance of body language. Non-verbal cues like tone of voice, posture, and facial expressions say as much about you as the content of your answers.

The goal is to appear confident, friendly, and positive. Here are some tips to get a handle on your video body language.

1. Maintain eye contact

Yes, you can simulate eye contact during a video interview. Look directly into the camera while answering your questions instead of your screen. This makes it seem like you’re speaking to your interviews face-to-face.

2. Sit up straight

Good posture during your interview shows you’re alert, interested, and engaged. Slouching can make you seem unprofessional or not as interested in the role as you should be. 

If you’re prone to slouching, try placing a small pillow on your lower back. It’ll help keep you up for the duration of the interview.

woman-sitting-at-desk-video-interview

3. Use open body language

Crossing your arms and legs sends a subconscious message that you feel defensive, closed off, or upset. Instead, keep your arms comfortably at your sides and your feet planted on the floor. This will help you appear open and engaged.

4. Nod at appropriate times

Nodding your head is an affirmation that you’re listening. It shows the interviewer that you’re engaged and cares about what they’re saying. 

This is, by and large, a good thing. But, if you nod too much or too aggressively, you risk appearing dismissive or too excitable. Be selective about when you nod. Do it often enough to show your engagement, but not so much as to appear comical or sarcastic.

professional-having-online-meeting-video-interview

5. Watch your talking speed

As you practice your answers, note how fast you’re talking. Ask someone for feedback on your tone, the length of your pauses, and whether you sound rushed. You want to sound confident and articulate, not nervous or overly eccentric.

Show them what you offer

If it’s been a while since you were last a job seeker, you might feel uneasy about attending your first video interview. But it has more in common with in-person interviews than not. Both require you to prepare, rehearse your answers, dress well, and exude confidence. The challenge is in translating those elements to the screen.

Thankfully, with some small adjustments, you can do it. Adjust your camera, clean your background, and nail your lighting. Soon, you’ll be video conferencing with the confidence of a movie star.

And you’re interviewing for the job because they want to learn more about you, so remember: just be yourself.

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Published September 28, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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