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5 Steps to Making a Video Interview Work

Woman smiling while using a laptop

Good news: You’ve got a job interview!

Weird news: It’s a video interview.

If you don’t have much experience with video chat or being in front of a camera, a video interview can feel strange and intimidating. But as the technology becomes more widely available, video interviews are being used more in the world of hiring. So even if doing a video interview feels a little weird, it’s definitely worth figuring out how to make it work.

We asked Aerotek’s expert recruiters for their advice on how to get ready for a video interview with a potential employer.

Get comfortable with the technology

Make sure you’re up to speed on the video conference application you’ll be using in the interview. Get comfortable with the application well before your video interview — not the moment you’re supposed to be logging on.

As Aerotek Senior Professional Recruiter Jackie Ross explains, “Do a test run. Technology can be fickle, so familiarizing yourself with the application will make you feel more comfortable as the time approaches.”

Delays due to poor connections or last-minute technical difficulties can send as bad a message as showing up late for an in-person interview. Make sure you’ve taken steps to smooth out any login issues, secure a reliable internet connection, test your camera and microphone and install applications well in advance of your interview. Aerotek’s Matt Wiehe can attest to the value of understanding the video chat application, suggesting, “Going through tutorials online can make a world of difference.”

Be your own Spielberg

It’s just as important to represent yourself well on video as it is in person. Approach your video interview like a movie director. Line up your “shot” — get the camera at about eye level, and position both the camera and your body so that you can comfortably interact from a “medium shot” position.

Pay attention to your lighting. Your whole face should be visible and bright, without shadows, and the background shouldn’t distract from your face. Two lamps — one each on either side of the camera — should do the trick. If the light from either lamp is too direct or harsh, soften it with a shade, scarf or safely-positioned paper towel.

Aerotek Account Recruiting Manager Morgan McCormick suggests that you “prepare the area behind you.” Remove clutter from the frame, so that the interviewers can focus on you. As McCormick recommends, “A blank wall is best.”

And to the extent you can, record the interview in a quiet place where your potential employers will hear a minimum of background noise such as children and pets.

How do you make sure it’s all working? Aerotek Senior Professional Recruiter Julie Lewis says, “Do a test video prior to the interview and then watch the video to verify that everything looks the way you would like it to look for the interview.”

Be your own Cate Blanchett

Once you’ve gotten familiar with the technology and set up your interview shot, focus on preparing yourself.

What’s important in a face-to-face interview is important on video. Dress professionally, from head to toe. Even if they can’t see you’re wearing sweatpants, you’ll know; treating it like an in-person interview will put you in a better mindset. Make sure your posture is upright and engaged. And make eye contact.

How do you make eye contact via computer? Look at the camera, not the images on your computer screen. If it helps to remind you, attach a post-it note next to your camera, and draw an arrow with a message that says “Look here.”

Keep in mind that some things could hurt your cause, such as shuffling papers, nervously tapping a pen or using hand gestures that aren’t fully in frame or that distract. Speak slowly and clearly so the microphone picks up everything you say. And try not to yell.

When we asked Morgan McCormick for advice for what to do on camera, she reminded us of the most important stage direction of all: “Smile!”

Prepare. Then prepare. Then prepare some more.

If you don’t have much experience with video interviews, this can all feel intimidating. That’s okay. Preparation and practice can ease that anxiety. Start by preparing for your interview as you would normally, says Matt Wiehe. “Do your research on the company, come prepared with questions, and be able to speak about your relevant experience in detail.”

While you prepare, consider doing so in the place you’ll be during the video interview. That way it’ll feel less awkward when it’s time to sit down and log on. As Jackie Ross says, “Do some practice runs by answering questions to a camera instead of being in front of actual people.”

Get help

Video interviews are becoming more common. The good news: There are professionals who can help you shore up your skills. If you feel like you could use a little help preparing for job interviews – video and otherwise – connect with an Aerotek recruiter.

Experienced professionals like Jackie Ross, Matt Wiehe, Morgan McCormick and Julie Lewis can work directly with you to prepare for your next big opportunity.

And if you’re looking for a job, visit our job board to browse your options. You can create a free career account today to customize your search.