How to Set Up For a Successful Video Interview

How to set up for a successful video interview

Video interviews are here to stay.

Even before the recent shelter-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic, video interviews were becoming an increasingly common part of the hiring process for many organizations. This trend towards virtual interviews doesn’t appear to be declining anytime soon.

 Zoom, Skype, Highfive, Bluejeans and other video conferencing platforms have made it not only easy, but also financially viable for organizations to interview many candidates without requiring them to physically come into an office space. Hiring companies love this as it gives them the opportunity to evaluate a broader selection of potential candidates, while expediting the process of travelling  to a physical location for an initial interview. In addition, because a true interaction with the candidate is taking place, an initial evaluation of personality and individual mannerisms of the candidate, can be obtained via video.

While some candidates may feel perfectly comfortable with the idea of a video interview, especially those who grew up using Skype and YouTube, there are those whom may dread the very idea.  Some may feel uncomfortable with their appearance on video or have concerns with the dependability of their technology. Therefore, it’s extremely important to work out any wrinkles you may have prior to the interview date.

Although many companies may be operating more remotely, their standards for hiring talent have not been relaxed. The interview process is just as aggressive as it has ever been, and video interviews can add another challenge on top of an already difficult proposition. It’s more important than ever to be well prepared and exude the confidence that comes from preparation.

Eliminate Distractions

Just because you are not interviewing in-person doesn’t mean that you can ignore the basic rules of interviewing. While there is a trend towards more casual workplace attire, that does not and should not apply to the choice of attire for a job interview, remote or otherwise. It is always suggested to dress, at least, one notch above the expected attire is at the company. If the office culture favors collared dress shirts, make sure to wear one but also consider adding a tie and/or jacket. Make sure to be fully attired, including work shoes. While it may seem odd to wear shoes for a video interview, this small step has been proven to have a powerful psychological effect helping you stay focused and mentally associate with the level of professionalism required for an interview, even while home.  For a video specific tip, make sure to wear solid colors as often stripes and other complex patterns can be distracting on video.

Standard Rules Still Apply

If possible, make sure you close the doors and windows of the room you are interviewing from. Shut off or silence all electronics, unless you are using them for the video interview, and make sure the only window open on your screen is the video platform you are using. If you are using your phone, silence all notifications. This eliminates the possibility of pop-ups, which can easily derail your train of thought.

For the same reason, make sure to remove any pets and children from the room that you are interviewing from. A barking dog or crying child in the background can make it seem as though you are not taking the interview seriously and derail your entire presentation. If you wouldn’t bring something or someone to an in-person interview, eliminate it from your video interview.

Have the Right Technology

Having the right technology for a video call is essential. Making sure you can be seen and heard clearly while being interviewed may be a challenge for some. You want to be sure to prioritize the interviewer’s view, so make sure to utilize the best camera in your possession. Visium would always recommend the use of an external webcam hooked up to a computer, however this is not always possible. Especially right now with webcams being sold out and outrageously priced most everywhere. Fortunately, most mobile phones these days have decent resolution on their front facing cameras that you may be comfortable with the use of one for your interview.

The challenge, when using a phone for a video conference, is that it must remain absolutely still while you are speaking. It is also imperative that you maintain the camera at eye-level to avoid the dreaded below-the-nose camera angle. The more creative will be able to rig temporary stands on top of their laptop or other device, but at Visium we recommend picking up a flexible arm mount, which still seem to be readily in stock. This will allow you to comfortably and reliably mount your phone to a flat surface and conduct your video interview more professionally.

Of course, being seen is only half the battle. Perhaps, even more important, is being heard. After all, this is an interview which is meant to set you apart from the rest, in a good way. Many professionals say that bad video can be forgiven but having poor audio will sink your chances at a position faster than you can say “hello.” Always use earbuds, which will both help reduce any echo the interviewer may hear as well as make your voice sound much clearer and provide a higher quality sound than using the built-in microphone on your PC, webcam or phone. If you have a stand-alone microphone and headphones, even better!

Make sure to test all your technology, including the video conferencing platform, before the interview is set to begin so that you are sure how it works. This can be as easy as downloading the program and calling a friend to have a discussion. Make sure that both sides can hear and see each other clearly.

Use the Right Background and Surroundings

If you only take one thing from this article, this is the most important. Paying attention to the background and your surroundings is crucial. A bedroom with sloppy bed, a cluttered home office or a kitchen table may all imply various negative points of information to the interviewer all of which raise unwanted “flags” in the mind of the evaluator. A messy surrounding can denote a lack of professionalism and can cause the interviewer to be distracted. For this same reason, you should avoid holding a video interview from your car. It doesn’t appear as professional to the interviewer and it’s very easy to be distracted by your surroundings.

You will want to set yourself against a completely blank background, which doesn’t clash with your attire. However, make sure to leave some distance. “You want to make sure to leave at least 3 feet minimum from the wall,” says Karen Ripenburg, a TV producer and media trainer. “So you don’t blend into the background and flatten your shot. You will look more confident with some space, and not look like you have no escape.” Of course, it goes without saying that now is NOT the time to add any filter or virtual background.

You may also want to note your surroundings, especially the light. Lighting for a video interview is extremely important. It can take you from looking poorly on camera, into a confident and well-groomed businessperson.  Getting perfect lighting for a video interview can be challenging in a home setting, but you should look for the following:

  • Get plenty of light overall so it doesn’t look like you’re cowering in the dark—but not so much light that it creates glare on any eyeglasses.
  • Position two lights, if possible, at a diagonal in front of you, one a bit to your right, and one a bit to your left. Table lamps work fine.
  • Use natural light where possible; if one of the above lights is a window, all the better. Avoid fluorescent bulbs or other “cool” light sources.
  • Eliminate any direct back-lighting (like a window behind you) and avoid light shining directly over your head (especially if you’re losing your hair).

Good lighting doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you are wanting an even more professional lighting set-up stay tuned for our next article on putting together a cheap and easy lighting set-up for virtual meetings and interviews!

Of course, these tips only cover the preparation for an online interview, but if you follow them you will be on your way to a more successful interview overall.  As someone seeking a new job, your goals are the same in a video interview as they are during an in-person interview: to show that you are the best fit for the job. If you remember that, and focus on making a connection with the interviewer  it makes no difference from where you are interviewing . The professionalism that you demonstrate from preparation is much more likely to present a positive impression and ultimately land the opportunity you desire.

Stay tuned to the Visium blog and our social media for more video interviewing tips and tricks!


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