How to Prepare for a Video Job Interview

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Sep 24, 2021

Sep 24, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

It’s increasingly popular for job candidates to interview remotely, via video chat. You may be interviewing for a full-time remote position for a company across the country, or you might be interviewing for a local company that offers flexible working arrangements; either way, a video job interview is convenient, inexpensive, and fast for all parties involved.

But if you’re new to the world of video job interviews, you might feel intimidated or nervous about the circumstances. How can you prepare to maximize your chances of getting hired?

Your Main Goals

It’s easier to consider your preparation strategy if you break your objectives down to three main goals:

  • Look professional. You always want to look good for an interview, but in a video interview, your working environment and background will be evaluated just as much as you are. That means you’ll need to pay close attention to what’s behind you and around you.
  • Demonstrate competence. Video chatting is a skill. To do it successfully, you need to be familiar with the technology and capable of troubleshooting errors that come your way; you don’t want your first impression with the interviewer to be based on your struggle to connect.
  • Nail the interview. Aside from that, you’ll also need to present your experience and personality with poise and confidence.

Now let’s figure out how to accomplish this.

Make Your Background Professional

Everything starts with preparing your environment. Your surroundings need to look clean, polished, and professional – and you need to minimize potential interruptions.

For most people, that means choosing an isolated room of your house where you have total control of the environment. While it’s possible to conduct a job interview at a café or coworking space, you may have less influence over the variables that surround you.

Focus on the following:

  • Close off the area. Close the door or drop a curtain to physically close off the area where you’ll be interviewing. You may also want to post a sign that discourages interruption, such as “Interview in Progress” outside the door.
  • Clean everything. Take a vacuum cleaner to the carpet, dust the shelves, and get rid of any unnecessary clutter. Your interview room should be as clean and tidy as possible; if your room appears dirty or cluttered, it could reflect poorly on you.
  • Minimize the backdrop. Your background shouldn’t be too busy. Consider using a curtain to give yourself a neutral background or use sparsely decorated shelves to frame yourself in the video.

Dress to Impress

As with an in-person interview, it’s important to dress to impress. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can get away with casual attire. Pick a professional outfit and spend time grooming yourself so that you look your best on camera.

Test Everything Beforehand (and Have a Backup Plan)

You’ve likely been on video chats before, so this should be a breeze. But it’s still important to test everything you have beforehand – and have backup plans in case something goes wrong.

  • Get a phone number. If you lose internet access or your equipment suffers a catastrophic failure, it’s important to have a backup means of communication.
  • Charge your batteries. Charge your laptop, phone, and other accessories before the interview.
  • Test your microphone and camera. Double-check your microphone and camera to make sure they’re working as expected.
  • Become familiar with the video software. What platform is being used for the interview? Make sure you’re familiar with the basics of how it works before jumping into it for the interview itself.
  • Arrive early. Definitely aim to be a few minutes early to the interview in case you experience problems or delays setting up.

Accommodate the Software

At this point, you’ll be almost ready to interview as you normally would, presenting the best possible version of yourself to your prospective employer. There are just a few important modifications you’ll need to make to accommodate the video chatting software:

  • Keep yourself in the frame. Pay attention to how the camera is framing you – your gesticulations or body language may be out of the frame if you’re not careful.
  • Be wary of lag and interruptions. Slight delays and glitches can make it difficult to communicate via video chat at times. Use extra pauses to your advantage to avoid interruptions.
  • Disconnect totally before letting down your guard. Don’t start complaining or rip off your necktie the moment you think the video chat has ended. Make sure you disconnect completely before letting down your guard.

If you can follow all these strategies, you’ll be in a much better position to make a great impression – and ultimately get hired. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll get, so don’t be afraid to do some extra dry rehearsals along the way!