A man in dark rimmed glasses is on a video interview on his laptop. He is holding a pen and a copy of his CV is on the table

How to Succeed in Video Interviews - 5 Top Video Interview Tips

Joel Mason

How to Succeed in Video Interviews - 5 Top Video Interview Tips

Joel Mason • May 19, 2022

Interview tips for successful video interviews

Face-to-face interviews can be daunting but video interviews are on another level altogether. We've all become used to communicating on platforms like Zoom and Google Meet, but we have also become very aware that communication on these platforms comes with its challenges. Despite all the recent advances in video conferencing technology, there's still nothing like face-to-face communication when it comes to making the right impression.

That being said, video interviews are here to stay, and it's likely that over the coming months or years you'll be asked to attend a Zoom interview or two. You may have a Zoom interview scheduled right now, so how can you overcome the challenges inherent in video interviews and ensure that you are successful?

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In this article I'm going to share with you 5 tried and tested video interview tips that will make your next Zoom interview, or any video interview, easier. I'll tell you what to expect in your video interview, the challenges that you're likely to face in any video interview scenario and how you can avoid making the interview mistakes that so many interviewees make during video interviews. By the end you'll feel confident, and equipped with the knowledge and tools that you need to ace your next video interview!

Disclosure: We are affiliates for some of these products and services, if you click and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

What are the benefits of video interviews?

Whilst interviewing over video may not be most people’s first choice, there are in fact some benefits that are worth a brief mention.

• Video interviews mean zero travel time and cost, you don’t have to worry about traffic, not being able to find the location or being late.

• You can fit more video interviews into one week than you can with face-to-face interviews, this can speed up the interview process as scheduling multiple interviews with key stakeholders is a lot easier with Zoom or Google Meet etc.

• Interviewing for international positions is much easier, and cost effective, with video interviews. Companies are more open to interviewing international talent when they can do so over a Zoom interview.

• From an employer’s point of view, a video interview also provides them with an insight into how potential hires come across on video, should they be required to work remotely, something that is becoming more and more common.

Are video interviews here to stay?

We took a recent poll and out of over 2500 respondents, 61% believed that video interviews should be used for all first-round assessments, 33% said video interviews should be used for certain situations and only a mere 6% thought that video interviews shouldn’t be a part of the hiring process at all. So, it’s quite clear that people think video interviews over Zoom, Skype, Google Meets, etc, are here to stay!

5 interview tips for better video interviews

1. Make sure your lighting is video interview ready

Whether we like it or not, people make snap judgments about us based on appearance, and unfortunately, our laptop cameras do us no favour in video interviews. The good news is something as simple as adjusting our lighting can make all the difference when on a Zoom interview.

The best possible lighting you can achieve on a video interview is front-facing natural light. Front-facing natural light helps us avoid unflattering shadows that can either make us look very tired, or simply turn into faceless silhouettes. Natural light also makes your skin tone look its best on a video interview, and gives a more natural appearance, it also helps to light up your eyes, and we all know that eye contact is crucial to any good interview. 

Aim to position your laptop in front of a window, thus filling your face with natural light. If that isn’t possible or your video interview is scheduled for the evening, try placing a lamp directly behind your laptop, in front of you. Avoid a situation where the main light source is coming from behind you.

At The English Meeting Room we conduct all of our interview practice sessions on Zoom, because we work with clients from all over the world we often work in the evening when there is no natural light. To overcome this problem we use a Ring Light which provides a great source of natural-looking light.

You can find a cheap ring light on Amazon and most options are perfect for a video interview of any kind

2. In a video interview always keep your camera at eye level

We have all endured our fair share of up-the-nostril camera angles over the last couple of years! If you know what I’m talking about, you will hopefully be aware of how important it is to have your camera set up at eye level. Avoiding bad camera angles makes a big difference to a video interview. As much as possible, you need to think of this as a normal face-to-face interview.

To achieve this, your camera should be slightly elevated so that the interviewer is not looking up at you. If you don’t have a laptop stand available, try putting it on a small stack of books. Alternatively, if you are using a phone or tablet, you could invest in a stand or tripod that will allow you to easily adjust the height. 

You can find great phone tripods on Amazon

One top tip is to play around with your video interview setup with a friend, or partner, who can take some screenshots for you to see exactly how you look. Play around with the height of your camera until it looks great, it’s well worth the effort as it can totally transform how you come accross. If you don't have a good quality camera on your laptop you could consider connecting an eternal webcam, in most instances there provide a better quality image than the standard built in camara.

If you have an important video interview consider getting an external webcam from Amazon

3. Always make eye contact in your video interviews

This is surprisingly difficult to achieve on a video interview. Why? Because we naturally look at the other person on the screen or ourselves! The problem is, when we are looking at the screen we are not looking at the camera, and when we are not looking at the camera, we are not making eye contact. 

Eye contact is important in all social interactions, including video interviews. Eye contact helps us to build a connection and feel at ease with a person. Think of it this way; if you met someone in real life and throughout your hour conversation, they didn’t make eye contact with you, you would be left with a poor impression of them. 

One top tip for maintaining eye contact during a video interview is to place a small coloured sticker just below your camera. If you focus on looking at this sticker a majority of the time, you can rest assured that you will be making good eye contact and forming a good connection.

4. Be aware of your surroundings

It seems obvious. However, you will be surprised by how many people slip up in this area. Even though you are interviewing from home, the interviewer will be expecting you to be professional, they will not expect to see you sitting on your bed or to be able to see your dirty dishes in the background. This does not only mean making sure that you have cleared away the big pile of laundry, you may also want to consider creating a background that helps to portray a professional and memorable image. 

If you are going to sit in front of a bookcase, try selecting some books that are relevant to your industry and demonstrate that you engage in continuous learning and development. If you are interviewing for a management position, throw in some leadership books, if it’s a creative role, include your favourite design books. The trick is to try to stand out while looking as professional as possible. 

Alternatively, a blank white wall works too, and, if you can’t manage that, Zoom allows you to insert virtual backgrounds. There is no excuse for not making an effort in this area, you do not want to leave the interviewer with the impression that you simply haven’t put in the effort. My top tip here is to conduct a practice run with a friend or family member, connect with them on the same platform that you’ll be using for your interview, and have a look at what appears in the frame, you may be surprised!

Move around the room and find a position that works well, once you find that position, try dressing your background a little until you are comfortable with the image that you are portraying.

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5. Improve the sound quality of your video interview

I have left this to last, however, it’s one of the most important considerations. Effective communication is key to convincing a potential employer to hire you. No matter how great you and your space looks, if the interviewer can’t understand you, or you cannot understand them, the interview simply will not go well. 

Over the last few years we at The English Meeting Room have conducted all of our consultations and coaching sessions online and the one thing we have invested a small amount into is good quality sound. There is nothing more frustrating, or off-putting, as having to repeat yourself or being misunderstood during an interview. 

Rule number one is to make sure you are in a quiet environment, that’s obvious. However, another way to vastly improve your communication is to invest in an external microphone. This has made the biggest difference to our online meetings. We use a Shure MV5 because it’s plug and play, works with a laptop, phone or tablet and picks up really well.

But there are a lot of options out there and the good news is you can pick up something relatively cheap that makes a big difference to how the interviewer hears your voice. When it comes to video interviews little things can make a big difference. Remember, in many cases simply standing out from your competition can result in you being moved to the next round of interviews.

If you are currently involved in a job hunt, it is highly likely that you will have to do a good number of video interviews over the coming months. Investing some time into perfecting your approach and setup won’t guarantee you a job, but it will help you to stand out from the crowd, and in a competitive market that can make a big difference.

Conclusion and bonus tip

Video interviews have given us an advantage that we never had in face-to-face interviews, and that's the ability to use prompts! This is more helpful than you might realise. For someone like me, who hasn't been blessed with the best memory, putting a few notes around your screen to act as reminders is brilliant! These notes could be as simple as "remember to smile" or "make eye contact" or "SLOW DOWN!".

You could put your sales results or the key details of a project that you know you might need to call to mind at some point during the interview.
So as you set up for your next video interview make sure you get hold of a pack or Post-It notes and put a few helpful reminders around your screen.

If you need help with an upcoming face-to-face or video interview, check out our Interview Coaching service, we'd love to help you!