The Ultimate Real World Guide to Video Interviews

Under the best of circumstances, video interviews can be challenging for both the Recruiter and the candidate. For that reason, I strongly recommend the following best practices to ensure that you excel in this assessment format. And yes, the interview is an assessment AKA test. Even more reason you need to understand how to prep for a video interview.

Recently a friend told me that she had an upcoming video interview with a great nonprofit organization.  I asked her where she was going to be actually doing the interview.  I knew that her home office was in her laundry room. A great way to ensure that the interviewer saw her washer, dryer, and bin for dirty clothes.  This woman has three children. Which means there’s a lot of dirty clothes. The laundry Skype view is not a recipe for interview success.

I advised my friend that she needed to stage the background for video interviews. Yup, I said it –  staging.  Just like your clothes and attire in personal grooming create a first impression, so does the background of wherever you are interviewing when you’re doing a video interview.  My friend got it immediately, maybe because she’s a huge Property Brothers fan.

Create An Interview Environment At Home

The first thing she did was create a viable office looking background in her finished basement.  She had three framed silkscreen prints that looked very corporate, which is perfect for an interview.  She told me she even put a plant behind her to make it a little bit warmer.

Finally, she put on business casual professional attire and confirmed that she had good lighting.  Many people don’t realize how dangerous bad lighting is for people over 40.  In person you can look fabulous but if you put yourself in a bad lighting environment for a video interview you could look worn out at 37.

Video Interviews Are An Assessment

Sometimes I think candidates forget that every component of the interview process is an assessment. The video interview is an assessment.  When you’re meeting not in person, it’s much more difficult to build rapport.  So even more reason not to cut corners on the visual components of the video interview- background, attire and personal grooming – to ensure that you make a great impression.  Even more importantly, once you get a job, you will be using even more videoconference technology for your meetings.  The interview is a realistic job preview that you will be able to handle yourself in a professional manner in a video conference setting.

My friend rocked her interview and was advanced to the next stage, which was an in-person interview on site at the organization.  That is your goal with each and every video interview – to get to the next level to meet these people in person. As a candidate, she shared that the interviewer’s background was completely hideous.  Dust, piles of books and papers – not optimized to create a good impression.

CareerRx Pro Tips for Video Interviewing

Configure Video Interviewing Tools

Don’t wait until you need to do a video interview. Right now, create your accounts and download these apps on your phone. This includes multiple video interviewing apps including Google Hangouts, Skype and Facetime make it easy if the potential employer isn’t using HireVue or another video interviewing recruiting solution.

You will want to make sure you understand the full capability of all functionality.  Then do practice video calls with friends and family. Play around. The goal is to resolve any technical issues prior to the actual video interview.
Fix Your Lighting
Check your lighting and ensure that the view behind you is professional. Lighting is everything. Full spectrum light is great. Try to ensure that your lighting is the most flattering it can be for a big event.

Stage Your Room

Stage your interview environment. Everything on screen should be clean and professional, including items far off in the background. Think of it as a tv set instead of your room.

Create a Professional Look

Stage yourself. Business casual is safe and appropriate for a video interview. Don’t wear striped clothing, eat or chew gum. When I say dress professionally for your video interview, I don’t mean wear a suit.  It depends on what is the norm for your industry.   For a video interview, in most industries a man can never go wrong wearing a clean and ironed oxford and khakis. However, if you are a creative, clearly that’s going to be different. In some industries you have to dress to cover tattoos. In others, you almost need to have them.

Not only do industries and functional areas vary, regional differences are huge in the US. The NYC all black work uniform is great – for NY. Not for SoCal or Florida. If you’re a woman, be very careful about your top and ensure it has enough coverage.

Watch Facial Expressions

For candidates, video is a double-edged sword. I tell my personal coaching clients, “The camera doesn’t lie. So if you are irritated by a company’s interview process, it will show on your face on video.” In acting, there’s a technique where if you’re about to say a happy line, you think happy thoughts. When on camera, think ONLY happy thoughts.

One of my friends says that she can’t do video on her website because she has a “terrible case of resting bitchy face.” When she isn’t speaking, she says her face looks mean. This is definitely something that will be accentuated on video.

If you think you’re hiding your backstory, think again. You’re not. It’s coming out. As a candidate, you don’t have the luxury of showing negative feelings. I’m not saying that you have to slap on a frozen perpetually happy face. Try to use appropriate humor and rapport building plus smiling.

A USA today study shows that 40% of Americans say they’ll never be able to retire. That’s why it’s critical to find what still inspires you. If you really hate where you are in your life, you need to hide it in the interview process. To take the pressure off, and to eliminate performance anxiety, try to think of your interview as a business planning meeting.

Use Good Posture
Sit up straight and smile, almost as if you were a newscaster. Do not lounge or sit on a couch as it creates an unflattering view.
Eliminate All Interruptions
Ensure that you will not be interrupted for any reason (Kids, dogs, cats, UPS delivery, construction…I’ve heard it all over the years. Eliminate external noise that can be heard during the video interview.
Adjust Your Camera
Adjust your camera so that it is around eye level and try to look at the camera itself instead of the interviewer. Not always the easiest to do and definitely can be a challenge when it comes to building rapport with a stranger.


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Don’t blow your video interview because of a lack of planning or staging. Get started with CareerRx today!