Video interviews are becoming increasingly common. Between changing technology and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are high that your next interview may be conducted online instead of in person.
In many ways, preparing for a video interview is exactly like getting ready for an in-person interview. You’ll still want to think of some questions and answers beforehand, prepare your STAR Stories, practice with a friend, research the company, think about your compensation needs, update your resume, and so on.
While it may look or feel a bit different in a virtual context, these next few steps are similar to in-person interviewing as well:
Dress up – There are two benefits to wearing business casual or business professional attire (depending on the position you’re interviewing for). The first is practical; you may have to stand up and you don’t want to be business on top and party on the bottom. The second is psychological, dressing for success will help you feel your best and sends the right message to your interviewer.
“Arrive” early – Just as you would if you were driving, get to your computer early and get everything ready to go.
Follow up –always send a thank you note and follow up a few days later.
Remember the Pray – Prepare – Perform – Praise framework – Preparing yourself spiritually is an important part of any interview. Pray beforehand, asking God to give you guidance and the right words to say. Afterward, praise and thank Him for the opportunity to interview, and for His will to be done. Learn more about this in Step 6 of the You Were Created for Good Works workbook.
Finally, there are some key ways that a video interview is very different from an in-person meeting. You’ll want to be prepared for these important differences so you can gracefully ace your next video interview.
Have great lighting – The importance of lighting is one of the idiosyncrasies of video calls. If it is daylight, sit where the light from the window is on your face, (not behind you) to avoid backlighting. If you’re using artificial lighting, make sure your lamp or light fixture is behind your camera so the light shines on your face.
Pick a neutral background – a bookcase or blank walls are excellent choices. Make sure your environment is clean and neat. Avoid using the digital backgrounds available in programs like Zoom, which can lag or look tacky. Outdoors is typically not a good idea, because there are more factors outside your control.
Use a notepad and pen- Avoid typing on your computer. It can be noisy and distracting.
Reduce noises – Find a quiet, distraction-free environment. While this is easier said than done, the goal is to avoid a “BBC Dad video” moment. Turn off fans or other noisemakers. Silence your electronics. Ask other people in your home to be quiet. Put your pets away. Lock your door. Know where the “mute” button is and use it if something unexpected happens.
Wear headphones – This is an easy step that improves your ability to hear the others on the call, and also prevents sound feedback.
Optimize your Internet – if you can, choose a wired connection. If not, make sure you’re in a spot where your wireless Internet is at its strongest.
Test everything beforehand – is your webcam set up correctly? Is your sound working? Is your Internet running well? Practice with a friend using the video conferencing software if you can. Given the variety of video call options, the more familiar you are with the one your interview has chosen, the better. The 10 Worst Zoom Habits video humorously gives some clues on what not to do during a video call.
Make eye contact and smile – It will feel weird to do this on the camera, but smile and nod when listening, and look at the camera when you speak. Put your computer or your camera up on a stack of books or a box so the video angle is at eye-level. This will make it feel more natural to you, and also avoid double chins, ceiling views, or weird shadows. Be adaptable – sometimes technology doesn’t work the way it should. This could be on your end or the interviewer’s end. It’s not a bad idea to get a phone number beforehand in case of emergency. If there is a problem, don’t freak out. Take a deep breath, say a prayer, and try again.
‘We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps’ – Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)
Laura Miller works for Crossroads Career as a writer and editor, and lives in the Kansas City area with her accountant husband. Laura hosts and produces The Library Laura Podcast, which is a weekly dose of book recommendations, library love, and literary enthusiasm. Previously, she worked in the insurance and retail industries.