Preparing for Your Video Interview: 16 Tips for Success

Written by Coursera • Updated on

The purpose of a video interview is similar to an in-person or phone interview, but how it’s conducted differs. Learn more about ways you can prepare before, during, and after your next video interview.

[Featured image] A young person in a yellow top sits in front of their computer, looking at a document.

Video interviews have grown in popularity since the pandemic when they became a safe alternative to meeting in person. Before 2020, 22 percent of recruiters used video interviews, but that number jumped to 79 percent in 2021 [1]. Interviewing over video is a virtual opportunity to discuss your previous roles, the experience you gained from them, and the larger skill set you’d bring to a new position. 

The purpose of a video interview is similar to an in-person or phone interview, but how it’s conducted differs. Video interviews typically take place using video conferencing software, and they can either be live or pre-recorded. Whether you are invited to conduct one or all of your interviews over video, it’s important to know how to prepare. In this article, we’ll go over what you can do before, during, and after your next video interview so you feel confident about doing your best. 

What to expect from a video interview

A video interview is similar to an in-person interview. Depending on who you meet with and the interview stage, you can expect an array of behavioral, situational, and technical interview questions.  

Video interviews range in length. They can last anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, and you may be asked to conduct one, several, or all of your interviews over video. For example, you may meet with the hiring manager virtually before completing an onsite interview, where you meet with several employees face-to-face. 

Every company has different protocols and may use various types of interviews when assessing candidates. When you are invited to speak with a recruiter or hiring manager, ask about their interview process so you know what to expect and can prepare more specifically. 

Learn more: 15 Insightful Questions to Ask a Hiring Manager During Your Next Interview

Video interview formats

Video interviews tend to take place in one of two formats: live or pre-recorded. 

  • Live: An interviewer is present with you and will ask you questions similar to an in-person interview.  

  • Pre-recorded: An interviewer is not present with you, and you will record answers to a series of predetermined questions. 

Video interview technology 

When you’re asked to participate in a video interview, a recruiter or company representative should provide you with information about the video conferencing software they’ll use. Many recruiters prefer Zoom, though there is an array of software available, including: 

  • Microsoft Teams

  • Cisco WebEx

  • Google Meet/Hangouts

  • Zoom

  • Skype

Some software must be installed in advance, while others let you use a browser to access video services. Once you know which software you’ll be using, it can be helpful to do a test video at least one day before your interview so you can troubleshoot any issues. 

16 video interview tips from start to finish 

There are certain protocols you can follow for a successful video interview. We’ve broken down the tips below so you know how to prepare for your video interview, participate in it, and follow up afterward. 

Set your space up for success. 

In advance of your video interview, take time to find the best space, and use a test video to adjust things like lighting and positioning. 

1. Find a quiet, well-lit area: Whether you conduct your video interview at home or in another location, it’s best to make sure you have a quiet, well-lit space. Natural light is preferable because it’s bright, but you can also use lamps to illuminate a darker room.  

2. Double-check your background: Don’t wait until the day of your interview to make sure you have the ideal computer placement. Use a test video to figure out where you should place your computer. Make sure your background is clutter-free and, if possible, conveys a bit of your personality. If you prefer more privacy, download and install a virtual background. 

3. Position your laptop to frame you: Using the video conferencing software your interview will take place on, test out where you should place your computer so it frames your face. Try to sit so that you’re not too close or too far away from the camera, and use books or other sturdy objects to raise your laptop or monitor so it’s at eye level. 

4. Verify your internet connection: This is especially important if you’re not conducting your remote interview at home. Double-check to make sure you can access Wi-Fi or a reliable network, and ensure you have a strong internet connection.  

Set yourself up for success.

At least one day before your interview, spend time preparing and deciding what you will wear. 

5. Plan your interview attire: Companies often send out information about interview attire, though you should feel equally comfortable asking the recruiter what they expect. Either way, use those details to plan your wardrobe. Aim for clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident, but avoid patterns and overly bright colors. Run a test video to see how you look in different outfits and pick the one that will help you feel most confident.  

6. Prepare a few notes to have on hand: With a video interview, you have the benefit of creating notes for reference. Research the company’s mission and culture, and review the job description so you can align your experience with each task the role handles. On the day of your interview, place your notes where you can glance at them, but try not to focus on them for long periods because it diverts your eye contact. You can also create a digital note on your laptop and casually glance at into it from time to time. 

7. Practice with a mock interview: It can help to practice interviewing over video with a mentor, friend, or trusted peer, so you become familiar with the format. Ahead of your official interview, find someone who can practice with you for 15 to 30 minutes and give you feedback about your background, lighting, eye contact, and more.  

Before the video interview  

The day of your video interview has arrived! You’ve found a quiet place, double-checked your background and lighting, and feel confident and comfortable about your clothing. Now it’s time to take care of a few last-minute details. 

8. Turn off notifications and silence your phone: You don’t want the distraction of your phone ringing or a Slack message when you’re in the middle of an interview. Make sure to silence your phone and turn off any other notifications shortly before you’re set to join the video call.  

9. Make sure your laptop is charged or plugged in: Video interviews can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, so it’s wise to make sure your computer is ready. If it’s not connected to a power source, make sure it’s fully charged, so it doesn’t shut down during your interview.  

10. Log in early: Sometimes, video conferencing software needs to update before you can use it, and not every program asks permission to do so, meaning you could be stuck waiting for an update to finish. In that case, log in about 30 minutes ahead of your interview to make sure the software on your computer is all set. Then, log back in five minutes before your call begins and mute yourself until others join.   

During the video interview  

As with an in-person interview, a video interview is a chance for you to demonstrate that you’re a strong fit for the job. But since it’s happening over video rather than in person, follow the tips below to help convey your story

11. Make “eye contact”: There’s no such thing as true eye contact over video. Looking into your camera when answering questions gives the appearance of eye contact, but you may also prefer looking at the interviewer. In that case, place the video window as close to your camera as possible, so it’s easier to look at your interviewer rather than down at them.  

12. Pay attention to your body language: It can be difficult to convey your feelings when you’re not in the same room as an interviewer. On video, sit up straight, nod, smile, and express your interest using body language they can see. Even though a video interview may feel more casual in some respects, treat it as you would an in-person interview.  

13. Mute yourself when necessary: If you’re in a truly quiet space, you can leave yourself unmuted to develop a more conversational back-and-forth. Otherwise, if there’s background noise, it may be beneficial to mute yourself when you’re not speaking so you can hear the interviewer.   

14. Ask questions: Just because you’re being interviewed by video doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you to find out anything you need to know. Many interviewers leave room at the end for questions. Take advantage of that time by preparing a few questions—add them to the notes you prepared for easier reference.   

15. Handle any distractions: A neighbor’s dog barking, your child bursting into the room, or someone mowing their lawn in the distance—these things happen. Don’t worry, but don’t ignore them. Take them in stride and explain what’s happening. Often, interviewers appreciate the proactive communication you’re able to offer.   

Learn more: 5 Unique Questions to Ask Employers

After the video interview

Pat yourself on the back! Interviewing requires a significant amount of research and preparation, and you should take a moment to acknowledge what you have accomplished. It may also be beneficial to express your continued interest in the role. 

16. Follow-up with a “thank you”: It’s good etiquette to send a follow-up email the day after you’ve completed a video interview. If you’ve been in touch with a recruiter to coordinate your interviews, send the note to them. Otherwise, if a hiring manager or team member provides their contact information, email them directly. 

Explore further 

Prepare for your next interview with The Art of the Job Interview, a collaboration between Big Interview and Coursera that covers interview fundamentals. You can also strengthen your resume with a Professional Certificate from Google, IBM, or Meta, all designed to help you develop job-ready skills in lucrative areas like UX design, data science, project management, marketing analytics, and sales

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Article sources

1. LaborIQ. "How the Pandemic Forever Changed the Traditional Job Interview, https://www.coursera.org/learn/art-of-job-interview?action=enroll." Accessed May 19, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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