You sit in your chair, drumming your fingers aimlessly on your desk. You’re about to get interviewed for a job you really want. You know what you’re good at and you know what you’re going to bring to the table. Yet you’re nervous, because this isn’t just a phone call – it’s a video call. You’re used to phone screens and attended class on Zoom for months, but interviewing via a video call isn’t exactly the same thing, and you’re worried about what might go wrong.
Even before the pandemic, many companies were turning to video-calling software to contact candidates who weren’t able to be interviewed in person. Now, many candidates are going through the entire interview process, even final round interviews, virtually. Video interviews are likely to stick around even after employees return to the office. They offer convenience and connection, allowing companies to meet with candidates from anywhere.
But nothing ruins an interview and your confidence more than a video call that doesn’t go right because of technical issues. Most times, these issues are preventable if you take the right steps to prepare. Successful video interviews are more than just having a stable WiFi signal. Here are a few steps you can take to improve the quality of your next video interview and put your very best self forward.
Decide which device to use for the interview
Pick a device that can hold a stable internet connection and charge it beforehand or keep it plugged in during the interview. Laptops and desktops are preferable because they don’t have to be held and you won’t have to worry about phone calls or texts interrupting the meeting. Although not recommended, if you are on the go, a tablet or mobile phone can work if you have no other alternative. If you have to use a phone, make sure to set it to “do not disturb” and prop it up against a solid surface so you don’t have to hold it during the interview.
Find the right space for the interview
Good lighting is a must when it comes to every successful video call. If possible, try not to have your back to a window or direct light. You’ll have the best light if you’re facing a window or lamp, but overhead lighting is okay, too. Be mindful of your background and make sure it represents you and your personality in a professional manner. If you don’t want to be too personal, use a blank wall as your background. Be wary of echoey rooms. Avoid public places, but if you don’t have any other choice, try to find a quiet corner and explain to the hiring team that you are in a public setting.
Check your internet speed
Once you think you’ve found the right place, test your internet speed before you fully commit. You can check your internet speed through sites like Speed Test or Google’s own “Speed Test” right in your browser, to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for a choppy, low-quality video call. If you can, connect to the internet using an Ethernet cable, which should be more stable than WiFi.
Pick the right platform
Some companies have their own interview system, but many companies don’t. Make sure you coordinate a platform that works for everyone and you understand how to use it before you’re about to get on the call. If you need to download software, do so at least a day in advance. If you already have the platform downloaded, make sure you’ve updated to the latest version. You don’t want any surprises when it’s time to sign on!
Check your audio and video settings
If you have a weak microphone in your computer, use an external one (like the one you find in many headphones) to ensure the best sound quality. Ask someone to call you to check your settings. Make sure the software you are using is up to date.
Adjust the angle of your computer
Your face should be the focus of the frame, but your torso should also be in the frame to avoid looking like a floating head. The camera should be right at eye level, facing you directly. If you need to, prop your laptop up on several books to make sure it’s at the right height.
Dress for the job
As tempted as you might be to do so if you’re calling from your room, do not forgo pants! Be conscious of your outfit and of the industry you are interviewing for. If you’re not sure of exactly what attire is appropriate, it’s always helpful to research beforehand. Just because you’re not meeting in person, doesn’t mean you should dress casually. Wear something similar to what you’d wear for an in-person interview, and check how it looks on camera ahead of time to make sure it doesn’t blend in with your background.
Ensure that you won’t be interrupted
If you live with family or friends, make sure to inform them ahead of time about your interview so they don’t disturb you during it. This will help you avoid a BBC-interview-like situation. Even though most people have gotten used to interruptions from their coworkers’ kids or pets during the months of remote work, it’s best to avoid distractions and stay as professional as possible.
You should also make sure you won’t be disturbed digitally. Shortly before your interview, be sure to silence any desktop notifications on your laptop so you aren’t distracted if your group chat blows up mid-interview.
Prepare for the worst
No matter how well you prepare for your interview, things can still go wrong. If all doesn’t go as planned, take a deep breath. Do not panic. Call your interviewer back, and if they aren’t able to pick up, send them an email explaining the situation. In most cases, hiring teams will understand and won’t hold it against you. No matter how stressed you are, try to stay calm. Remember that everyone has dealt with technical difficulties at one point or another. How you handle a mishap will give the interviewer insight into whether or not you can deal with stressful situations in the workplace.
After the interview, send written or emailed thank-you notes to all of the people who interviewed you. Thank them for their time and consideration, and ask them what the next steps are in the hiring process if this wasn’t addressed during the interview itself. Video interviews can be intimidating, but if you prepare beforehand and test out the technology you’re using, you’ll have a lot less to worry about on interview day.