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So, your CV caught someone’s eye? Great, you’ve got an interview. Due to the current times, the catch is that you are not being invited to the office, you’re going to be doing it via a video conferencing platform.

Interviewing via Google Hangout or Zoom is a lot different than meeting in person, but you don’t have to let that reality blow the job for you. To help your next video interview go as smoothly as possible, here are some tips that have come from numerous experts and professionals who have been on both sides of the interview table.

1. The Standard Rules Still Apply

Just because you’re on video doesn’t mean you get to slack off on your appearance. Just because your full outfit may not be seen, should not cause you to tone down your choice of attire for a video job interview. Dress one notch above what the company’s typical attire is. So, if the office culture favors collared shirts, check that box but also slip on a jacket. And put on a pair of shoes. It may seem strange to wear your shoes during a video conference, but it has an important psychological effect on you, that helps you perform better during your interview.

2. Eliminate Distractions

The last thing you want is to lose your train of thought during your interview. Therefore, close the doors and windows in the room. Turn off the TV down the hall. Silence your cellphone. Make sure the only window open on your desktop is the video platform you are using. And silence all pop-ups. Once you are confident that there will be no distractions, you are ready for your online interview.

3. Find a Neutral Background

More than any other tip the pros said that paying careful attention to your background is crucial! A bedroom with a sloppy bed, a home office full of clutter, all of these connote information about you to the interviewer, none of which is good. It’s not only unprofessional, but it also distracts the interviewer, who will be too busy analyzing your dirty laundry instead of listening to what you have to say.

Set yourself up against a completely blank background, make sure your shirt does not clash! If you are struggling to find a professional backdrop, try setting up a folding table near a neutral wall or corner. Never sit right up against the wall. Allow for at least 3 feet minimum between the chair and the wall, so that you don’t blend into the background and flatten your shot.

4. Master Your Lighting

Getting perfect lighting for video can be a challenge in a home environment, but ideally, you want to aim for the following:

  • Get plenty of lighting overall so it doesn’t look like you are cowering in the dark, but not so much light that it creates a glare on your face or glasses.
  • Position two lights diagonally in front of you (one slightly to your right and one a bit to your left.) Table lamps work fine for this.
  • Use natural light where possible; organic light is always the best.
  • Eliminate any direct backlighting (like a window behind you) and avoid light shining directly over your head.

5. Test Your Gear

It is a great idea to install a backup copy of the software on a second device, just in case one device fails. Sign up for an account on the service your interviewer is using and download the necessary software. Now draft a friend to help you through a test run on both devices, to make sure audio and video are working. Test your earphones and keep a back-up pair within reach. Test everything again on the day of your interview, as many PCs reboot and can reset your default camera and microphone, leaving your screen blank and your audio muted. This would unsettle you and waste the interviewer’s time. Rather be over prepared than flustered.

6. Look Directly at Your Camera

This takes some practice and at first, will feel unnatural, but during interviews you should look at the camera as much as possible. Try not to look at the picture of the other person on the screen. Looking at the camera is as close as you can get to making eye contact with your interviewer. By looking at the screen the other party may think you are starting to drift into space. The good news about using a small phone screen is that this effect is minimized. If you are doing your interview on a laptop, you can cheat this by shrinking the size of the video conference window and position it close to the location of the webcam. Elevate your laptop to eye level by stacking books or boxes underneath it. This way, you can stare directly into the camera without slouching or craning.

7. Make a Cheat Sheet

Remember that the interviewer cannot see what is not on the camera, so use your interview space to your advantage. Stick a Post-It Note cheat sheet with notes, questions, or inspiration directly on the screen or on the wall behind the camera.


Good Luck with your next online interview!