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How to Prepare for a Video Interview

January 2, 2019


Congratulations! You've scored a video interview! Depending on the interviewer's comfort level with video calls, the video interview is often either the first or second step of the candidate screening process. If an employer offers you the choice of a phone screening or video call screening - opt for the video call. The nature of the video call affords you an opportunity to build rapport with the interviewer that is much more difficult to do over the phone. Not only only are you not able to make eye-contact over the phone, you can't demonstrate your interest, enthusiasm of engagement through your body language the way you can over a video call. While video job interviews will probably never replace in-person interviews entirely, it is an extremely important step to you being invited to step foot in the actual office! But to ace your job interview you want to ensure you're prepared to put your best foot forward. Treat your video interview the same as an in-person interview - be conscientious of first impressions and how you will come across in a professional setting - even though you may be sitting in the comfort of your own dining room.


Here is a 5 point checklist to prepare for your upcoming video interview.

1. Check your technology


First things first, ensure that you have a strong and stable internet connection. You want to minimize the likelihood of your call dropping. This is not only frustrating and disruptive, but minimizes the amount of time you have for the interviewer to get to know you. 


Secondly, ensure that your hardware is up to the task - whether that is a desktop computer, a laptop or a tablet. Make sure the audio and video functionality is working and that your device will work with the employer's preferred video software platform.


Thirdly, test out the video software. The interviewer will have sent you a link to join the interview at the scheduled date and time. Research the platform, download and install the necessary plugins (if required), and run a test call with a friend or family member to ensure that it works and that you'll be familiar enough with the platform to troubleshoot it in case a technical difficulty arises.


2. Find a suitable place to conduct the interview


The backdrop that you choose to conduct your interview should be minimalist or at the very least, tidy. Ask yourself if your childhood bedroom is the most professional setting you would like to introduce yourself to a professional employer. Not only do you want to  minimize the number of things in the background that could distract the interviewer, you also don't want the interviewer to be making unnecessary or irrelevant assumptions about you based on your poster of the periodic table of mixology! 


The place you choose should also be quiet and a place where you can speak freely without interruption or distraction. We all remember what happened to that BBC reporter when his children burst into the room and interrupted his interview on international television! There's one important difference between you and him however. He already has the job! 


Inform your family members or room mates that you have a job interview and not to interrupt you. Avoid coffee shops and common places where there will be a lot of ambient noise. If there isn't an appropriate place in your home or dorm room, book a private meeting room in your faculty building on campus or perhaps at the library.  


3. Prepare as you would any other interview


There's something about video interviews that give us the feeling that it is a little more casual than an in-person interview and that is NOT the right approach. It's easy to feel more comfortable sitting in the familiar surroundings of your own home but you should prepare and conduct yourself as you would for any other interview. 


Always practice and review difficult interview questions. And take 2 minutes to power pose before the scheduled interview time. What's power posing? Check out Amy Cuddy's Ted Talk about how power posing has been proven by her scientific research to improve interview performance.


4. Dress to Impress


Even though the interviewer can't see the entirety of your body you still want to dress professionally. Don't assume you won't need to put on a professional pair of pants or a skirt as you never know if there will be a need or reason to stand up. Further to that, being "suited up" will also have a positive psychological impact to your performance. 


5. Know your good side


Ensure that your face is well-lit and that the light source is not casting any strange shadows across your face. You may need to incorporate additional lamps or lights if the space you have chosen is dimly lit. Position the height of your chair so that you are centred on the screen and looking up slightly. You don't want to appear as if you are bearing down on the interviewer which is often the posture we take because of the nature of our typing or keyboard position. Especially in the case of laptops. 

Simulate a couple of test runs over video chat to practice responses to some of the more difficult questions. The more you prepare the more confident you will be and the less anxiety you will experience when the time comes.