Job interviews are terrifying enough, but having a webcam interview in the middle of your living room adds a whole new layer of awkwardness and complexities to the already tense situation.
Unfortunately, video interviews are gaining popularity among employers because they’re faster and cheaper to set up compared to phone and in-person meetings. You just have to get used to it if you’re serious about your job search.
This guide will help you with everything you need to know to look good and sound good on camera. You'll learn about different types of video interviews, how to dress appropriately for a video interview, and even about body posture—basically everything you need to know to have a successful video job interview. We'll even share some common video interview questions to help you better prepare.
What Is a Digital Interview? 2 Types of Video Interviews
If you're unfamiliar with video chat interviews and other types of online interviews, you may wonder: what is a digital interview? A digital interview is another name for a video job interview. A video job interview can take one of two forms: live or pre-recorded.
In the case of pre-recorded interviews, you’ll receive a link that will redirect you to a page where you can record answers to a standardized list of questions the employer asks everyone applying for the same role. Candidates are often given about two minutes to consider each question, and then a few minutes more to deliver their answer on camera. Since the interview isn’t conducted in real time, applicants have anywhere from two days up to one week to complete it in their own time. Some employers even allow candidates to retake the video interview if they mess up or aren’t confident in their delivery.
10 Video Interview Tips
Like in-person and phone interviews, a video interview is something you need to prepare for, but in a different way. This time wearing the right clothes isn’t the only concern, as there's a bunch of technical aspects and video conference interview etiquette to consider.
1. Prep Webcam and Mic in Advance
Clean your webcam’s lens so you don’t look blurry on camera, and then look for the most flattering angle to position it. In most cases, the best place for the webcam is just above your eye-line with the camera pointing slightly downward so it captures your whole face. If you’re using a laptop, put it on top of several books to elevate it just above your eye-line.
Check that your mic is ready before the interview. Record a few seconds of your voice to check if the mic captures your voice clearly, then adjust the positioning and effects as needed.
Whether you use a standalone mic or your laptop mic, remember that you shouldn’t need to hunch or move closer to the mic just to get a clear recording. You’ll be doing a video interview so the interviewer will see if you’re hunching over the mic, and that’s not a good thing for them to see. Slouching isn’t a good sign of confidence in type of job interview.
Interview Coach Margaret Buj adds, “A mic can pick up and amplify noises usually unnoticed during in-person meetups, so avoid shuffling papers or typing during the interview.”
2. Ensure Sufficient Internet Speed
Check that your internet connection is fast and stable, ideally 10Mbps or faster. Go to Ookla Speedtest to check your internet speed if you’re not sure how fast it is.
Connect your laptop or computer directly to your router using a network cable, if possible, to ensure a stable connection. If your home internet connection is shared with your family or roommates, ask them not to stream videos or download large files during your interview.
3. Choose the Right Environment
Choose a clean backdrop for your video interview, preferably one that doesn’t show a lot of personal items.
Avoid areas with overhead lighting near you as that can cast a shadow over your face. Use a small desk lamp to add side lighting when the camera captures you, as that usually works wonders to neutralize shadows cast by overhead lighting. Conduct a test run on the actual spot where you plan to have the video interview to check if the lighting works well.
Michelle Riklan, Career Coach and Managing Director of Riklan Resources, adds, “Put pets and kids in a separate room if you’re doing the interview at home to avoid distractions.”
4. Plan for Glitches
Have a backup webcam, laptop or cellphone, mic, and Wi-Fi connection, so you can replace anything that could break down during your webcam interview. Inform the interviewer that you’ll use your phone in case you've got connection problems.
Download the app or software that'll be used for the interview in advance, and make sure it works for your primary and backup device.
5. Dress Appropriately and Choose Camera-Friendly Colors
The usual advice about dressing for job interviews applies here: don’t wear anything flashy and emulate the dress code of the company. Dressing for the camera is a bit tricky though, so you also have to think of what works well on screen:
- Don’t wear anything white because that may appear too bright and distracting on camera, especially if you've got extra lights pointed at you.
- Don’t wear pure black as the webcam will try to compensate for that darkness, causing you to look washed out because of too much exposure.
- Stay away from prints and busy patterns as they take the focus away from you.
- Try not to wear high-contrasting colors.
- Go for soft solid colors, such as deep blue or maroon. Bright colors can appear unnatural on camera and affect how your skin color looks on screen.
Your lower body may not be on camera, but you never know if a situation may arise that requires you to stand up. What if your internet connection goes down? What if your mic stops working and you need another one? You don’t want the risk of having to awkwardly cover yourself while standing up.
6. Eye-Contact Video Interview Tips
Maintaining eye-contact on camera isn’t the same as doing it in person because you won’t be staring at another person, you’ll be staring at a screen.
Where the interviewer’s face is on the screen and your webcam’s position affects your eye contact. For instance, the interviewer’s face might be on the right side of your screen because you've got another application opened on your laptop. Since your eyes will naturally be drawn to the interviewer’s face, to the camera it'll look like you’re talking to someone beside your laptop because you’re not staring directly into the webcam.
To avoid this, resize the screen of the video interview then move it as close as possible to your webcam. This way when you look at the interviewer’s face you’ll also be looking at the webcam, giving the impression of real eye contact.
7. Maintain Posture
Video interviews don’t show your lower body, so there’s no need to worry about your feet or legs. As long as you sit up straight, you’re fine. You may have to adjust your chair’s height or angle though, so you don’t appear like you’re sitting too far back on camera.
8. Keep Body Language and Gestures Within Camera Frame
Gesturing while you speak is okay, as long as it’s not so much that it draws attention away from what you’re saying. Keep in mind that your hand gestures are contained within the camera’s scope, unless you want your empathic hand gestures to look weird because the other party can’t see your hands.
9. Allow a One-Second Delay for Intermittent Connections
Take a second before answering the interviewer’s questions on a live video interview to avoid interrupting them in case your online connection has a lag.
10. Keep Your Face Shine Free
Do you know why actors wear makeup on screen? Because the lighting and visual glare from a camera can make an oily T-zone look worse. You can easily avoid this by applying some loose powder or using oil-blotting paper if you don’t want to wear makeup.
Avoid wearing glasses so the interviewer can see your eyes instead of the weird glare its reflection will give off on camera. If you've got poor vision, wear contacts or glare-proof glasses.
10. Use Notes Off-Cam
You’re not 100% in front of the interviewer, so it’s okay to have notes handy. Just keep it subtle when you read them because the recruiter can still see if your eyes keep darting off elsewhere while you’re talking.
Some information you may need handy during the interview:
- Prompts to several stories that'll boost your application, such as your proudest achievement and skills that make you the best candidate for the job
- Practiced response to common interview questions
- Important notes regarding the company’s background
- What you’ll say when asked about your desired salary
- Your resume
Is your resume too cluttered to read at a glance? If you can’t find the information you need during stolen glances on your video interview, how can you expect a recruiter who hasn’t seen your resume before to find the highlights of your career? Give your resume a makeover or rewrite it altogether, depending on how much time you have. Here is some information to help you update your resume:
- Resumes29+ Modern Resume Templates With Clean (Elegant) CV Designs (+ 2021 Video)Brenda Barron
- Resumes30+ Simple Resume CV Templates (Easily Customizable & Editable for 2020)Andrew Childress
- ResumesNew Course: How to Make a Professional Resume in 10 MinutesAndrew Blackman
Typical Questions Asked During a Video Interview
Video interviews, in most cases, are conducted in lieu of the first screening interview, so the questions aren’t designed to challenge you yet. At this point, they just want to get to know you and make sure you've got the skills required for the job.
You’ll be asked questions typical for a first interview, such as the ones listed below. Practice how you’ll respond to these questions to keep your answers succinct, especially if your video interview is pre-recorded as those types of interview have a time limit. If your answer is too long, you may not have enough time to say everything you want in the job interview video.
1. Why Are You the Ideal Candidate for This Job?
Try to cover the following points in a short response. If possible, tell a story that incorporates all three elements to give the interviewer examples of what makes you an ideal candidate.
- Your skills
- The results they can expect from you
- What makes you a great cultural fit for their team
2. Why Did You Apply for This Role?
Answer this from a position of strength, not from weakness. That means you shouldn’t mention any injustice or failures you’ve experienced, such as how you didn’t get promoted or how bored you are with your current tasks. Complaints like that not only make you look whiny and entitled, it also makes your credibility as a great candidate questionable.
Focus on the positive side of why you’re leaving. So, instead of talking about your bad experiences, mention the exciting opportunities that you look forward to, such as learning new things or growing in a new organization. It helps if you’ve done prior research about the company to substantiate your answer.
What to research
How you can use it during a video chat interview
Company size and projected growth or size of the industry
Mention how you’re looking for an opportunity in a growing industry or a company at the forefront of the industry.
New skills you may learn on the job (not required for the job, but good to have)
Emphasize your interest in learning skills that may complement your job. For instance, graphic designers with experience in coding may do well as website developers or UI designers someday.
Reiterate your willingness to work hard, so you can climb the career ladder in the company.
3. What Kind of Work Environment Do You Thrive In?
Interviewers ask this question to determine if you’ll fit or clash with your potential teammates. As tempting as it is to say whatever the interviewer wants to hear, that’s not in your best interest. If you’re not comfortable working in a huge company with an established hierarchy because you prefer the freedom of a small team, you should be honest about that. You won’t be happy in a job where the established norms are against your personality and preferred working style anyway.
4. Tell Me About Yourself
The interviewer may be friendly, but they’re not actually interested in hearing about your personal life when they ask this question. They want to know what you can bring to the table when you’re hired, so use this opportunity to summarize your skills and experience, especially the ones that were too long to include in your resume.
5. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?
Walk the interviewer through your career goals within the company. Employers want to hire people that want to make something out of themselves, as they know it’s the determination and hard work of people like this that also makes businesses grow.
Try not to mention family plans and business plans because conflicting interests like that don’t go well in some companies. Sure, some CEOs and forward-thinking businesses are willing to support their employee’s personal goals, but you can never tell what kind of company you’re applying to during the initial webcam interview. It’s not worth the risk, and besides, the company may be supportive but the interviewer might think twice about hiring you once they realize you’ll resign as soon as your side business takes off. Here are some tutorials that can help you prepare for a video chat interview (or any other type of interview):
- CareersWhat to Say in a Job Interview (+11 Things to Always Avoid)Charley Mendoza
- InterviewsHow to Best Answer the 19 Most Common Interview QuestionsCharley Mendoza
- Job SearchWhat Questions Should You Ask in a Job Interview?Charley Mendoza
- InterviewsHow to Answer Difficult Behavioral Interview Questions RightCharley Mendoza
Learn How to Do a Video Interview Now
Job search and interview methods will change as technology advances. So, if you’re still uncomfortable with the technology used for video chat interviews, you need to start learning your way around them while video interviews are still not the all-around practice.
Editorial Note: This content was originally published in 2018. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.
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