10 Tips to Ace a Video Interview

Be ready for a video interview. They're becoming more popular.

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Miriam Salpeter
Miriam Salpeter
It’s becoming more and more common for companies to conduct virtual interviews with candidates. Often, these interviews are done via some type of video technology. A video interview typically involves the candidate answering a series of pre-determined interview questions using a webcam to record their interview.

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"There are generally two types of video interviews a candidate may encounter,” says Christopher Young, CEO of Async Interview, a video interviewing technology that allows companies to interview candidates anywhere there is an Internet connection and webcam. “One-way interviews, such as the type of interviews that Async provides, pre-screen candidates by having them respond to pre-set questions without a recruiter on the other end. Another approach is a two-way interview, conducted using Skype-like technology. Candidates and recruiters interact as part of a two-way, live interactive interview process. These are typically used later in the interview process.”

As part of their “Get America Back to Work Campaign,” Young offers the following tips to help you ace a video interview:

1. Practice questions. As with anything, practice makes perfect. If your video interviewing tool allows, take advantage of the company’s practice questions. This will not only help you get ready for the interview but will also allow you to get comfortable with the technology. Use the practice questions to work out kinks, such as your background and your wardrobe.

2. Look at the camera, not the screen. This isn’t the time to be checking yourself out on the screen. Eye contact is critical in an in-person interview, and it adds a nice touch on a video interview as well. Pretend your webcam is the person interviewing you. Keep looking at the webcam as you would be looking at your interviewer.

3. Dress appropriately. Be careful if you are considering dressing “business on top and casual on the bottom.” Dress professionally from head to toe. Don’t make the mistake of dressing waist up. If you shift in your seat, you don’t want your pajamas or sweatpants showing! Dress in light colors against a darker background or dark colors against a light background. Plan ahead so you look your best.

4. Take care to set up the recording environment. You want your interview to highlight your skills and qualifications. Make sure your recording space is lighted appropriately and doesn’t cast unwanted shadows on your face. Move a lamp or light source nearby and use the practice interviews to adjust your lighting and make sure you can see yourself. As for the background, keep it conservative or plain. The interviewer wants to see you, not your room, so set yourself up so that the video will show you from the shoulder up. 

5. Think about timing. Time is of the essence. Be mindful of how long you take to respond to questions, whether in a two-way interview or a one-way interview. Many video interview tools have time limits for each question so be precise, but answer questions with sufficient detail. There is no do-over in an interview.

6. Watch your language. Avoid jargon. When sharing your experiences, describe acronyms and other jargon so your employer can follow along.

7. Calm your nerves. Your peers are nervous too, so don’t worry. Focus on speaking slowly, and show off those pearly whites. Those who can showcase their true personality while maintaining a level of professionalism are typically selected for another interview.

8. Don’t let mistakes throw you off. Employers know you are human. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. If you started off responding to a recruiter’s question and would like to correct yourself, do so and re-state your answer. They will appreciate your honesty and willingness to admit your error.

9. Consider your strengths and weaknesses. Just because it’s a high-tech interview doesn’t mean you won’t encounter traditional questions. A common question is, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Don’t get caught up in the technology. Prepare for a variety of interview questions.

10. Do your research. Many clients leave room in the interview for you to ask questions that they can address in the next interview. Don’t get caught scrambling to think of what you might ask the employer. Prepare a couple of questions about something you can’t research on your own.

Video interviews provide the opportunity to showcase your skills and talents from the comfort of your home. Smile, be confident, and prepare to ace your interview using technology that makes the hiring process more comfortable and cost effective for you and your prospective employer.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.