Having a Successful Video Interview

This month, we've been talking about interview situations outside of the traditional "sit across from a person who asks you questions" model, including phone interviews, group interviews, and interviews with multiple interviewers. Let's wrap up by talking about a type of interview that's halfway between a phone interview and an in-person interview — a video interview.

Why might an organization ask to do a video interview? If they're interviewing candidates from out of state but can't afford to fly them in, this is a way to be "face-to-face" without physically being in the same room. Being able to see a candidate's facial expressions can be more valuable than doing a voice-only phone interviews. Also, if there are multiple interviewers, it's easier to follow who's talking if you can see their faces.

As with the other types of interviews we've reviewed, it's most important that you prepare for a video interview in the same way you would prepare for any interview. However, there are some additional things you can do to make a video interview as successful as possible.

  • Use a wired Internet connection if at all possible, and make sure it's not going to cut out if the phone rings. (I once had to do a Skype interview at a family friend's house while on vacation, and they failed to tell me that their Internet and their phone were on the same line! When the phone rang, it dropped the video call completely.)
  • Practice making and receiving video calls with someone until you feel comfortable with the technology. If you're using a headset (which I recommend so you don't feel like you have to shout), test this out ahead of time as well.
  • Be aware of your background. Unlike in an in-person interview, they're going to be seeing into your personal space or wherever you are for the call. Is anything in the background going to be distracting, or could be considered inappropriate? Take it off-screen.
  • Be patient. Many organizations are trying out video interviews for the first time, and they may not have the technology or sound figured out on their side. The more you can have a good sense of humor and avoid displaying impatience or frustration, the more positively you'll be perceived.
  • Look at the camera! Your webcam is probably on top of your computer screen, which means if you look at the people on the screen, it will look to them like you're looking down and not at them. So make a conscious effort to talk into the camera. Just like you wouldn't maintain unbroken eye contact with someone for an extended period of time, you can look down every now and then to gauge the interviewer's reactions, but the majority of the time you should keep your eyes on the camera.

What tips would you add about making a video interview successful?