Ah, 2020—The Year of the Videoconference. Now, more than ever, it's how companies are conducting job interviews. Video interviews have always been an option for saving time and money, particularly with remote candidates, but right now they're also a safer, more convenient alternative for job seekers and hiring managers.
Preparing for any interview can be daunting, and if you've never done a video job interview before, you might be wondering how to make great first impression. We've got you covered—here are 10 ways you can prep yourself so that you're confident on camera.
1. Do your research
Get ready for a video interview the same way you would for an in-person one. Research the company and come with questions prepared. Additionally, you'll want to find out:
- Which video conferencing software the interviewer plans to use
- The names and job titles of people who will be on the call
- How long the interview will last
- A phone number where you can reach them if the connection drops
2. Set the stage
Find a quiet area where you're unlikely to be disturbed or distracted. It's best to have a neutral background, such as a blank wall or a well-organized bookshelf. Place your computer on a solid surface, not a bed or couch. Try to sit facing a window so you're evenly lit with natural light.
3. Position your webcam
Not full-on selfie mode, but close: Level the camera with the top of your head and point it slightly downward to create the most flattering angle. Sit close to the lens so that the interviewer sees your entire head and shoulders.
4. Test your tech ahead of time
Do a dry run before the call by yourself or with a family member or friend on the other end. Download the conferencing software you'll be using and test the controls so that you're comfortable with them when the time comes.
5. Dress for success
Aim to be overdressed versus underdressed. In general, this means professional business attire, which for women may include a blouse and cardigan, tailored dress, or blazer. For men, a sweater, button-down, or suit and tie may be appropriate.
What you wear can be a great way to show some personality that may get lost by not meeting face-to-face. Balance professionalism with personal style to make a memorable impact. What's your power color? Do you have something with a subtle but interesting pattern in your closet? Whatever you choose, make sure it doesn't create any glare or distortion on camera (more on this below).
6. Don't forget pants
It may sound silly, but don't skimp on dressing your bottom half just because the video will show you from the shoulders up. In the event you do have to get up (to close a door or window, for example), you'll want to make sure you're wearing formal bottoms and shoes.
7. Choose accessories wisely
As with your outfit, you'll want these to be distinctive, but not distracting. Statement jewelry or a great tie can make a nice conversation starter—as long as it's not getting tangled in your earbuds or clanking against your laptop.
8. Look your best
Get ready in advance so that you can preview yourself on camera—you may look a bit different than you do in the mirror. Is the color or pattern of your outfit overwhelming? Does your hair look groomed? Is your face shiny? You may find you want a little more or less makeup than usual. (We do love a bright lip for the Zooms.)
If you wear glasses, make sure they're glare-proof so that the interviewer can see your eyes. Otherwise, switch to contacts if you can.
9. Show you're attentive
Be mindful of your body language. Don't let the fact that you're at home make you overly comfortable. Sit straight up in your chair (imagine there's an invisible string from the top of your head to the ceiling), but not so rigid that you look uncomfortable. Smile, nod, and look directly into the camera lens—rather than at the screen—to make a connection with the interviewer.
10. Plan for the unexpected
Interruptions may happen, and you'll want to be prepared for them. Anticipate how you'll respond if the connection drops or gets choppy or if someone comes into the room unexpectedly.