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

Video Interviews - 10 Tips for Success

Joel Mason

Video Interviews - 10 Tips for Success

Joel Mason • Mar 31, 2023

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?

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.

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.

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!

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.

10 essential steps 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.

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. 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.

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

Ask a friend for help

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. 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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4. Improve the sound quality of your video interview

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.

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. 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.

In a competitive market this can make a big difference.

5. Always dress to impress

A lot of people wonder what they should wear for a video interview.

It’s very simple. Don’t let the fact that you are sitting in your dining room, or maybe your bedroom, fool you into thinking that you can take it less seriously than a face to face interview.  

Ask yourself this question; what would I wear if I were meeting this person face to face in their office?

Whatever you would wear to a face to face interview is what you should wear to a video interview.

The only additional consideration is to pick something that works on camera.

You may need to avoid patterns or certain colors, again, a quick self test at home will help you make the right call.  

Don’t only think about your top half!

The way we dress really does affect our mindset and our confidence.

When you sit around in your pajamas you don’t feel motivated and you don’t feel confident.

This is especially true when we are in an interview.

If you would normally wear formal attire to the office you will likely feel most confident if you dress this way for your interview. 

Consider your industry and the kind of role that you are interviewing for

If you are interviewing for a very corporate role, for example in an accountancy firm or law office, you should dress accordingly. 

However, if the role you are applying for is within a creative industry you may want to consider an open collar shirt.

The general rule is, consider what you would wear to the office if you got the job and aim to be a little smarter. 

You may want to do dress rehearsal before that actual call.

Is what you are wearing comfortable to sit in for an hour? Are you going to get too hot? Do the colours look good on screen or do they wash you out?

Feeling comfortable, confident and looking the part are key to a successful video interview.

Take some time to try different combinations and conduct a few test runs with someone who will give you some honest feedback.

6. Conduct a test run

Conducting a test run can help to identify any potential issues.

This is something that you should definitely do before your first video interview.

Technical issues can easily derail a video interview, and they often do.

Running out of battery, a poor wifi signal and faulty equipment cause unnecessary stress and distractions.

These issues are, however, easily avoided. All you need is a willing friend or family member who fancies a chat!

Try to conduct your test run at the same time of day that your interview is scheduled

This way your lighting, wifi signal and other environmental factors are likely to be the same.

Also aim to do another one the day before the interview.

This way you will more likely be able to leave your desired setup intact ready for the call. 

Firstly test the basics: 
  • Is your power cable long enough to plug your laptop in?
  • Is your wifi connection strong enough? 
  • What does your background look like? 
  • Does your lighting make you clear on the screen? 
  • Can you hear easily and can you be heard? 
  • Do you have the latest version of your video conferencing technology installed or do you need to run an update?

Now ask for some feedback: 
  • What does your chosen outfit look like? 
  • Are you making enough eye contact? 
  • Are you pausing enough?
  • Are you speaking too quickly? 
  • What’s your body language like? 
  • Is your camera angle flattering? 

The night before your interview remember to charge your device or make sure that you are able to connect to a nearby power outlet.

The general idea here is to make sure you are completely comfortable with your setup and will have no unwelcome surprises on the day. 

If you are not very confident interviewing via video it can take some time to become comfortable.

We suggest trying to practice with someone you trust and if your budget allows.

Book some coaching sessions with an expert who can provide you with the opportunity to practice key questions and give you feedback. 

7. Make sure you prepare for your video interview

It goes without saying that this is as important for video interviews as it is for in person interviews.

The one difference however is that video interviews give you the unique opportunity of being able to bring with you a few aids and resources.

Something that you can’t always do for an in person interview. 

Print off a copy of your CV

Have it by your side. Interviewers often refer to specifics on your CV and it can be helpful to be able to refer to the exact section they are referring to.

Take some time to make a few notes on your CV.

For example, at the side of each role you can write down a word or two that will help you to remember key examples and successes that you may wish to use. 

Get your examples ready

Preparing examples that demonstrate your successes across key competencies is important for any interview.

However, this takes a little more work than a lot of people realize.

 Effective examples that can be used in interview questions are those that have been well thought through and structured into coherent responses. 

I advise that you get to grips with the STAR technique. 

Remember, you don’t need to write your examples out word for word. It’s better to have a few helpful hints under each letter. 

It’s helpful to have a few notes with you but try not to rely too heavily on them.

You may think that you are being discrete in referring to notes but it’s more noticeable than you may think. 

Get a notebook and pen

Video interviews provide a fantastic opportunity to take notes.

As the interviewer asks a question, you can write down some key points or words you want to address in your question.

This can help you stay on track. You can also write down anything you want to follow up with and ask about at the end of the interview.

This can be really powerful and can show how engaged you are in the process. 

A word of warning; when you’re on a video call it is best to over-explain as the other participants can’t see what is happening around you.

It’s important that they don’t think you are checking your phone or being distracted so if you are taking notes or checking ‘off-camera’ resources, then let them know that that is what you are doing. 

Use post-it notes

Worried you’ll forget to smile? Keep forgetting to mention the results of your actions?

It can help to put a few key prompts on post-it notes around your screen to ensure you don’t forget anything important. 

Who are you speaking with?

When you schedule a video interview you will usually be sent the full names of the people that will be logging into the call.

This is a great opportunity to do some research, an opportunity that you really should not miss! 

Finding out a little about the people that will be interviewing you will help you to feel more at ease.

We always feel comfortable speaking with people who are at least a little familiar to us.

Having no idea who we will be speaking to can add to our nervousness

Taking time to really consider the people that you will be speaking to and becoming more familiar with them is a very important use of your time.

It is an exercise that can actually yield a great deal of useful information if done well. 

Don’t worry about the fact that they will see that you have viewed their profile.

Employers expect candidates to do their research, the fact that they can see you doing some research will be a positive and not a negative thing. 

Don’t be afraid to say “while looking at your LinkedIn profile I saw that we attended the same university, or worked in the same company in the past”.

Familiarity and common ground help to build quicker and stronger connections. 

8. Arrive early to your video interview

If anything is going to go wrong, it’s likely to go wrong at the beginning.

Slow internet connection, dead laptop battery, not being able to find the log on details are just some examples. 

By the way, checking to make sure you have located the correct log on details on your invitation is a great tip!

These are all issues that can easily be rectified providing you have given yourself a few spare minutes.

Aim to do one final check 15 minutes before the start time and be seated and logged in five minutes before the call is due to begin. 

Having 5-10 minutes to sit quietly, get comfortable in your seat, adjust the angle of your camera, get accustomed to your surroundings and look over your notes one last time will help to calm your nerves.

If you have been rushing around to get ready you may find you need a few minutes just to calm your breathing, you don’t want to go into a video interview sounding out of breath.

The last thing you want to do is arrive late for a video interview, you really don’t have many good excuses for this, especially if you are taking the call in the comfort of your own home. 

Another thing to bear in mind when scheduling the call is to agree on a time when you know you are most likely to be alone and at your best.

Don’t be tempted to schedule any old time simply because you are taking the interview from home. 

What time of day is the family out? When do you feel sharpest? Try your best to find a time that works for you…without being too inflexible of course!

9. Speak clearly and remember to use pauses

Speaking clearly is important in any interview, however, it’s especially important on a video call where clear communication can be a challenge. 

Remember to annunciate and to project your voice so that your microphone picks you up. 

Don’t shout however!

This is where interview practice can be very helpful, having someone give you constructive feedback on how you come across can help you to up your game and feel much more confident and prepared.

One common problem on video interviews is people speaking over one another.

You can avoid this problem by pausing for a couple of seconds after the interviewer has asked their question to make sure that they are finished. 

If you jump in too quickly it will feel like you are cutting them off and this will not give a very positive impression of you as a candidate. 

Also, don’t be afraid of allowing a few seconds silence after you finish your answer.

it is likely that they are also giving you time to finish before jumping in and there could well be a delay on the connection. 

Lastly, don’t try to fill every silence, this will cause the communication to get messy. 

10. End on a positive note

The end of an interview is often a missed opportunity for many people.

It’s all too easy to say goodbye, sign off and to sit there wondering how it went and if you will ever hear from them again

Interviewees often feel that they are not allowed to ask questions at the end of the interview, clarify what happens next, or find out from the interviewer how the interview went. 

In reality, the best and most memorable candidates are not necessarily the ones that begin the interview on a strong note, but rather those who end on one.

Here are three things that you can do to finish strong

1. Ask questions

More often than not, at the close of an interview, a candidate will be asked if they have any questions. 

This is a fantastic opportunity, one that is sadly missed by so many people who either choose to ask no questions or who ask the wrong questions.

The best questions to ask are those that set you apart from other candidates, questions which demonstrate that you have unique insight and ideas.

It can be helpful to write down potential questions during your research and preparation.

If you are interviewing online, then keep a notepad and pen next to you and make a note of anything the interviewer says that you would like to find out more about.

Below are examples of questions which show insight and interest in the role

"I recently read that the organisation has set new environmental impact goals, how would this role contribute to that agenda?”

"I've noticed some competitors adopting a subscription model and I have some great ideas about how this marketing strategy could work for some of your products, do you think this is a direction the company would consider?”

“You mentioned earlier that you’ve recently invested a lot in technology for the teams. I was the digital transformation champion in my last role and loved advocating for the uptake of technology. I’d love to know what software you’re using?”

The interviewer may or may not ask if you have any questions, even if they don’t you should ask them, “would you mind if I asked you a few questions before we end?”

Read our complete list of essential questions to ask in an interview.

Ask how it went

If you know that the interview has been a complete disaster you may want to avoid this question.

However, if you feel that things have gone quite well feel free to ask them their opinion. 

Simply ask ‘how do you think today’s interview went?’

By putting the interviewer in a position of confirming to you that things went well, they will feel much more obligated to invite you back to the next round.

Clarify the next steps

This is very important, and yet, most people do not do it!

Why would you leave an interview without an understanding of what happens next?

Simply ask ‘what are the next steps in the process?’ or ‘when can I expect to hear from you?

Again, this shows that you are keen, it demonstrates assertiveness and tells the interviewer that you are active in the process and engaged in moving things forward

If someone confirms to you that they will be in contact with feedback or details of the next steps, they are much more likely to follow through.

Be appreciative

This goes without saying but it’s worth remembering to thank the interviewers for their time and tell them that you are looking forward to speaking with them again. 

Ultimately, the key is to be memorable. Most candidates will leave the call with a simple goodbye and then be forgotten about. 

Gain some commitment from the interviewers and demonstrate that you are different from most candidates, show them that you really want the role!

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!