More and more companies are using video interviews to talk with job applicants. If you’re trying to rejoin the workforce after many years away, video interviewing may be unfamiliar, adding stress to your interview prep.
Here is our advice for how to put your best (virtual) foot forward!
1. Find your space and manage interruptions (or be transparent if you cannot).
If you don’t have a home office, making do with the desk in your living room or kitchen table is perfectly acceptable. Be mindful of what’s in your background – both visually and audibly.
Have your partner or a sitter (or a TV) watch the kids if possible. Ask your neighbor if they can practice their drum fills at a different time. If distractions are completely unavoidable, let the interviewer know either ahead of time via email or at the start of your interview: “I am so grateful for this opportunity but I have to apologize in advance if my child rushes in.”
2. Don’t overlook logistics.
For starters, ask what platform will be used so that you can download the application and test it. Consider restarting your computer that morning so any updates get installed ahead of time.
Make sure your computer camera is set to a good angle. Ideally, your entire face and top of shoulders should be visible, so make sure to wear a professional top and have groomed hair, makeup, etc. Move that lamp or adjust that curtain so that you’re not too dark or washed out.
Check your WiFi strength at your chosen location with the software required. Explore your video conferencing platform’s virtual backgrounds; many applications such as Zoom have plenty of office-appropriate visuals that may even disguise children whizzing by.
3. PRACTICE IS KEY.
Talk directly into the camera to get comfortable doing so. Practice responses to questions you know are coming – especially the difficult ones. Record yourself ahead of time to stop any distracting ticks like looking down or touching your face.
If you wear glasses, try to minimize the glare by changing your position and how the light falls on your face. Learn how to hide the video of yourself if you find watching yourself speak is distracting – your focus should be on your responses.
4. Take advantage of what cannot be seen on camera.
We like to say, “A video interview is an open-book exam!” You can print out materials, post notes on your screen, or even have a second screen up with pointers – as long as your eyesight doesn’t linger on these aids while you’re speaking. Try posting key talking points around the camera to keep eye contact with the interviewer.
The job description, your resume, practice responses, self-affirmations, or a photo of your favorite celebrity can all serve to give you that extra support you may need.
5. Don’t let nerves get in the way of your wellness.
Drink plenty of water the day of your interview and have a glass on hand for the interview itself. Eat a good meal before so you’re nourished and your stomach does not ironically take over as you describe your own appetite for the job opportunity.
Meditate and find your mantra. Do NOT watch the news so you can stay in a positive space. You can do this.
6. Recover from a blown answer.
During the interview, if you feel like you’ve hit a wall, are off topic, or otherwise floundering, here’s our advice: Stop talking.
Take a deep breath. Try something like “You can probably tell that I’m really nervous. I’ve never done an interview by video before. This is a big opportunity that I’m really excited about and I don’t want to mess it up. I got a little bit flustered. Would you mind if I answered that question again?”
Take another deep breath. Exhale and slowly start to answer the question again.
This approach shows self-awareness and humility, two really important “soft” skills in any job. The breathing helps calm your central nervous system and refocus. What’s more, after you reset, you’re less likely to fumble again.
7. Have a back up plan.
Most video conferencing platforms offer a dial-in telephone number as well and could be useful if you experience a last-minute glitch with your camera or WiFi. Always, always make sure to have the interviewer’s phone number just in case.
Whether you’ve got a video interview tomorrow or you’re just in preparation mode, Path Forward wishes you the best on your return to work. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter and check out our current opportunities page for more job search resources and updates on our latest programs and partners.
Melyssa Muro is a content writer and program coordinator at Path Forward.
Originally published March 2020.