Make a Great Impression in Your Video Interview

If you are in the job market don’t be surprised if you’re asked for an online video interview. Companies want to shorten the time to fill positions, and being able to interview online can shorten the time to weed through candidates. Be prepared to go on Skype with your webcam and talk live to the recruiter. And recruiting firms like Vaco are already using video messaging in their interview process.

A woman prepared for her webcam video interview.

Remember the Five Ps for your video interview: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance!

Whenever you are on webcam, make sure you have good lighting. Being interviewed from a webcam makes it even more important that you look presentable, and the background of the camera is professional (no dirty clothes, no windows). Unlike a telephone interview, you can’t refer to documentation, walk around the room or look distracted. You need to look directly into the webcam, smile, and be energetic.

Here are tips on how to make a great impression in your video interview:

Video Preparation: Decide what you want the recruiter to get from your interview, and be prepared to directly convey your message. It helps to list your key points prior to the webcam video interview and practice how you will respond to anticipated questions. You can’t expect to give your best performance if you are not comfortable with talking into a webcam, so be sure to practice. You can video chat with a friend for their feedback, or you can record and send video via email to your friends. Practice will not only improve your presentation, but it also provides an opportunity to make sure your webcam is working properly, the audio quality is good, and your background image is professional. Find out which video chat service provider will be used by the recruiter. You may be able to sign up for a free account and practice with that service prior to the interview. Remember the Five Ps: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.  You can practice speaking on webcam with the free mailVU video mail service.

Surroundings: The interviewer needs to be focused on you and what you are saying, not a vintage poster on the wall or a noise in the background. The background must be clean and professional. A plain wall, or a clean and organized bookcase/credenza will work great. It is best to be alone in a small, quiet room so the audio does not echo and there are no annoying background noises. Try not to have a dog around as they may bark during your interview. In order to have good webcam video quality, make sure you have good lighting. Good lighting should be on your face and never behind you. You may need to place a lamp on your desk by your webcam to achieve good lighting on your face. Practice with several lighting configurations until you are happy with the results. For other webcam tips check out this post: Improve the Quality of Your Webcam Video.

Your Image: As with any interview you should always dress professionally (from the waist up anyway!) Be sure you wear suitable interview clothing for the position. Try to avoid wearing striped or checked shirts as webcams and Internet connectivity may cause the lines to run together in the video. You’ll also want to avoid excessive movement as that can be distracting to the recruiter. Try to maintain a good position in front of the webcam and avoid looking away to notes. Be careful about your facial expressions, just as you would in an in-person interview. At the same time you don’t want to be “stiff.” Show some positive emotion and smile. Use small hand motions to express points, but keep them close to your side so it shows in the webcam view. Keep in mind that with a waist-up image, any motion will seem exaggerated, so even small gestures will be powerful in making a point.

Webcam: A quality webcam will make a big difference in how the recruiter sees you, so be sure to use a webcam that has at least 1.3Mp of image resolution. If you have a lower-end webcam, or a low pixel built-in webcam on your laptop, consider getting a quality external webcam prior to your interview. This article Which Webcam Should I Buy? is a good guide to selecting a webcam within your budget. For audio you can use the built-in mic on your laptop or notebook computer, or use a headset with microphone. Be sure to practice with your equipment so you are comfortable with how it works, the quality, and how you look while using it.

Recording: Our final tip is to consider that the video interview could be recorded, either by the recruiter or by you. The recruiter may record simply to pass along good candidates to the hiring company or hiring manager. You can view the recording at a later date and decide how you want to improve your next video interview. You can also share it with friends for critique. If you decide to record, be sure to practice with the software in advance of the interview! The last thing you want to do is fiddle around with the recording software controls instead of talking with the recruiter. CamStudio has an easy-to-use, free screen recording tool that you may find helpful in recording your interview. A note of caution; it is a legal requirement to gain consent for recording conversations. Prior to choosing to record the interview you should gain the other party’s consent.

Best of luck on your video job interview! Be sure to send the interviewer a thank you note afterwards. To really impress them video email a personal Thank You message. You can use the free video mail service on, or mailVU’s free video email apps in iTunes and Google Play. The recruiter won’t forget you and you will stand out from the crowd.  It is entirely free, and easy to use.

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