10 Secrets to Acing Your Online Video Job Interview

Job interview memeBecause they enable inexpensive long-distance face-to-face discussions as well as quick discussions over short distances, online job interviews via video (typically Skype, Zoom or Google Hangout) are becoming much more common.

So how do you make sure you’re ready for your close-up?

Start with ten secrets, and then ace your next video interview…

Ask This One Question First

First and foremost, be sure to get an answer to the question, “What video method will you be using?” If the answer is Skype or Hangout, immediately start with the preparation steps below using the appropriate network.

On the other hand, if the employer is using a private service or app, ask if you can test it before the interview actually happens. If they give you that information, be sure to use it for a test before the actual interview — and be VERY careful of what you show and say during that private network or app test!

Before the interview happens (and before your test), Google the name of the app to see if help has been posted. Look for directions (probably by the vendor) and, possibly, tips on how to do well.

Know Video Job Interviews Are Trickier

Unfortunately, video interviews are very easy to under-estimate and, consequently, it’s easy to fail.

In most cases, video interviews offer employers some of the benefits of an in-person interview. Video enables the employer to watch the person’s face and some of the body language  while they answer questions — a big improvement over a phone interview.

However, because most of us aren’t experienced with video interviews and because the technology adds uncertainty and some unreliability, succeeding in video interviews can be more challenging.

Pay Attention to Everything the Interviewer Can See

The background behind you, the lighting on your face (what makes you look best?), your distance from the camera, and how much of you is visible.

Remove distractions by hanging a sheet behind you or sitting in front of a blank wall. Move lamps around and open or close window coverings to get the lighting right for your face. Set up the camera so that it is stable and the right distance from you, preferably on a table, enabling you to lay out your documentation in front of you for easy reference.

Pay Attention to Sound

The microphone and the speakers need to be on and set to the right volume. Often they are part of the camera set up, but don’t assume that they will be set to the right volume without testing.

Make Eye Contact with the Camera

Don’t watch yourself on your computer’s monitor. Talk to the camera with brief glances at your view of the other person. Position the camera so that you can look at the other person without obviously glancing very far away.

Look your Best (Plus a Little More)

Dress appropriately from head to toe, don’t stop at your waist, just in case you need to stand up for some reason or you knock the camera off the table. Have clean hair and teeth, too, of course. If you wear makeup, experiment to see what looks best. Often, you will need to wear a bit more makeup that you usually wear so that you look like yourself.

Prepare as You Would for an In-person Interview

Do your research as usual, and use that research in answering the questions. Read How to Knock Their Socks Off in a Job Interview to be well-prepared. Typically, you will be asked the same questions you would have been asked in an in-person interview, so be ready!

Have Questions Ready to Ask

Remember that a job interview is a two-way street, and you should have questions to ask to determine if you want the job. In fact, you will be judged by the interviewer on the questions you have prepared for your time together. To get 100 percent ready, read How to Ask the Right Questions for ideas.

Get a Sense of the Environment

Check out what you can see behind and in front of the interviewer. Are others behind the interviewer (if visible) dressed formally or informally, seemingly always on the move, answering phones constantly, or sitting quietly working at their desks, etc. Do you see a crowded messy desk and office or an orderly environment? If the person is in the location where you would be working and seems amenable, ask them to pan the camera across the surroundings (office, store, or whatever) and other employees.

Observe as much as you can about the interviewer’s environment to get a sense of what working there is really like.

Get Fired Up!

Before every online job interview, spend at least 2 minutes in your “power pose” so that you are calm and confident for the interview. They sound kind of crazy, but they are the result of research at the extremely-pragmatic Harvard Business School.

Once you have perfected your process, you can re-use it for other interviews for next opportunities, perhaps an interview on network television because you’ve become such a big success at that next job. Just consider the possibilities!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at WorkCoachCafe.com!




Susan-P-Joyce-AuthorAbout the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org, is a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a columnist on HuffingtonPostAOL Jobs, and LinkedIn.  Follow Susan on Twitter.



This entry was posted in Job Interviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.