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10 video interview tips that may help you get hired

Published May 17, 2024| minute read
Dhara Singh

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    At a time when 70% of employers are conducting interviews for new college graduates at least in part virtually, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, it may be important for entry-level job candidates to hone in on their video interviewing skills.

    "Although virtual interviews have become a ubiquitous part of the hiring process, even as more companies are requiring employees to return to the office, our data shows many job candidates have yet to master the art of the virtual interview — and it's sabotaging their candidacy," Amanda Augustine, a career expert at TopResume told CNBC.

    So, what are the ins and outs of a video interview, and how do you prepare for one? In this article, we'll cover some strategies that may be helpful when mastering your next video interview.

    What's a video interview?

    First things first, what even is a video interview? A video interview, sometimes called a virtual interview, is a job interview conducted remotely using digital platforms, often allowing participants to connect via video conferencing tools.

    Video interviews enable employers and candidates to communicate without meeting in person. They also may allow for convenience and flexibility regarding the interview process.

    That isn't to say there aren't potential downsides to video interviews. Technical issues like connectivity problems or software glitches may, in some cases, disrupt the interview process. Additionally, the lack of in-person interaction can make it harder to gauge nonverbal cues and build rapport for both the interviewer and interviewee.

    Why do job recruiters use video interviews?

    There are many reasons companies use video interviews instead of in-person interviews during recruiting processes. A few reasons include:

    • May provide cost savings for candidates
    • May reduce travel hassle for candidates
    • May reduce the interview-to-hire timeline
    • May provide an opportunity for quicker scheduling and rescheduling of interviews
    • Depending on the format of the virtual interview, there may be the opportunity for easy share screening to allow candidates to show their portfolio or other presentation materials
    • May enable a wider talent pool to take part in the interview process
    • May provide flexibility to accommodate varying time zones and personal schedules
    • May allow multiple interviewers to join simultaneously from different locations
    • May provide the ability for employers to record interviews for later review

    How to prepare for a video interview

    Preparing for a video job interview can be nerve-wracking in its own way. Luckily, there are a variety of ways you can prepare so you can feel more confident during the interview, make sure you cover the key points that you want to, do your best to impress the recruiter or hiring manager, and cover the ground you need to as you fact-find on whether the role is right for you.

    1. Do your research

    One way to stand out in a video job interview is to show the interviewer that you have done your research about the company you're interviewing with. Consider researching not just the company's history, but also its competitors, recent news about the company, public projects your prospective team is working on, and the industry at large.

    2. Prepare notes to have on hand

    One of the significant benefits of a video interview is the ability to have notes on hand that you can refer to when needed. You may want to consider preparing a list of key accomplishments, specific numbers that may be helpful to refer to, any points you want to ensure you cover in the interview, and questions you may want to ask.

    Lastly, you may consider reviewing the original job posting to see how the listed desired skills match your own. Bullets or buzzwords from the job posting may be helpful to include in your notes so you can make sure you pepper them into your interview.  

    3. Know your why

    During an interview, hiring managers may ask what interests you about the company and the role. In essence, they want to know why you want the role. Because this is a question you can likely expect, you may want to consider preparing your why — why you're looking for a new role, and why the specific company and role you're interviewing for are compelling for you.

    4. Prepare a clean and professional backdrop

    One of the more challenging aspects for candidates regarding video interviews is that the onus is on them to create a professional backdrop. While many third-party video platforms allow you to blur your background, you'll want to decide ahead of time what you want your background to be. If you aren't going to blur your background or select a virtual background, you may want to tidy up your space before your interview. A messy laundry pile in your background is likely not an image you want to project.

    5. Prepare a professional outfit for the interview

    Are you wondering what you should wear to a video interview? A best practice is that it's usually better to overdress than underdress.

    "Dressing up is a signal that you understand your interviewers are in the power seat," Suzy Welch, a management expert, told CNBC. "You're showing respect; that's always attractive."

    One of the benefits of a video interview is that you'll likely only have to worry about your waist up, which may make planning your outfit easier. Given that you'll be on camera, you may want to consider wearing a solid bright color to make your face pop. As far as wardrobe don'ts are concerned, stay away from any strong patterns or accessories that may take away the focus from you.

    6. Troubleshoot your tech before the interview

    One of the potential downsides of a video interview is the possibility that you'll run into technical issues. Well ahead of your virtual interview, check your Wi-Fi and any platforms you'll be using to ensure everything is in working order.

    For job candidates wondering when they should arrive on camera for a virtual interview, the best practice is usually to arrive precisely on time. That's because your interviewer may be conducting another virtual meeting you don't want to intrude on.

    That said, to arrive exactly on time, you'll have to set yourself up in advance and be ready to join the virtual interview punctually. To do that, consider sitting down at your computer 15 minutes in advance so you can open any notes and platforms you'll be using and ensure you're prepared to join the meeting right as it's supposed to start.

    7. Make eye contact with the interviewer

    While there can be a lot of legwork to get ready for a video interview, a simple strategy that may make a big difference doesn't require any pre-work — just ensure you're maintaining proper eye contact with your interviewer.

    "Our study is consistent with previous research that found making eye contact is the first step in building trust with your recruiter, because eyes play a key role in social encounters," Benjamin Laker, professor of leadership at Henley Business School, told Harvard Business Review. "We found that 79% of unsuccessful candidates didn't do this well."

    8. Strike a balance between listening and talking

    Another simple tip to keep in mind before and during your video interview is to try to strike a balance between listening and talking. You want to communicate your accomplishments and why you're right for the role. Still, you also want to use the interview to learn about the role, the company culture, and how the hiring manager is defining success for the role, among other things.

    While it can be hard to strike the perfect balance during an interview, it may be helpful to remind yourself to do this before each interview. Another tip that may help is to keep an eye on the time as you progress through an interview to ensure that by the end, you've hit a balance between listening and talking.

    9. Ask meaningful questions

    One way to signal interest in the role you're interviewing for is to ask questions. It may help signal to the interviewer that you're curious, care about the interview process, and are genuinely interested in the role. Plus, you may actually have questions. Some questions to consider asking include:

    • What will a typical day look like in this role?
    • What do you think is missing on the team right now?
    • What does success look like in this role?
    • How do you see the team and company growing five years down the road?

    10. Follow up with a thank you note

    Finally, one way to show the hiring managers and other interviewers that you value their time is by emailing thank you notes after the remote interview. Consider this the opportunity to close any gaps or answer any lingering questions you think were left hanging after the interview.

    Final thoughts

    At the end of the day, there's just as much to prepare for when it comes to a video interview as an in-person interview. It's important to do your research, dress appropriately, and make sure you have good natural light, and a solid internet connection, among other steps.

    No matter how much preparation you put into a virtual interview, interviews don't always go as planned, though. And even if the interview goes well, you'll likely not land every job you interview for. With each interview you participate in but don't land, you may want to consider asking for feedback from recruiters and hiring managers to improve your chances moving forward.