5 steps to help you ace your next video interview, according to a career coach

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If you're currently job hunting, a remote interview will likely take the place of an in-person interview. 

You should thoroughly prepare for your remote interview just as you would for a traditional interview. But when technology is involved, plenty of things could go awry, so account for all the variables. To ensure you start off on the right foot with your potential employer, take a few extra steps prior to your interview.

"You never know what's gonna change with your settings or what might go wrong right before you're supposed to start," Brie Reynolds, a career development manager and coach at FlexJobs, tells Grow.

Preparing yourself and your technology ahead of time can help you go into your interview feeling confident, which can boost your performance. Take these five steps to set yourself up for a successful video interview.

1. Test out your tech beforehand

An unexpected tech issue can derail your entire interview, so make sure to troubleshoot your equipment in advance.

"As many times as you might have used your laptop's camera or your microphone before, it's really a good idea to test it out, a few hours or even the day before the interview," says Reynolds.

5 tips to ace video job interviews

Video by Courtney Stith

For quality communication between you and the interviewer, Reynolds recommends wearing headphones: "The sound quality tends to be better than if you're using just the microphone that's inside your laptop. A lot of times that can sound echo-y or distant."

For better sound quality, you can use the headphones that come with your smartphone, or try headphones with a Bluetooth connection. 

Then make sure you're comfortable with the video setup. Reynolds says it's best to contact your interviewer ahead of time, and confirm the platform they plan on using for the interview, such as Skype, Zoom, or WebEx. If you are unfamiliar with the program, test it out beforehand by calling a friend.

2. Limit household Wi-Fi use during the interview

Depending on the strength of your internet, you may notice glitches in your connection if too many people are online at once. Skype video calls, for example, use more bandwidth than audio calls, and your internet connection could be strained if it's overused.

To prevent your connection from pausing or freezing up, try to limit the number of people online during your call. If family members or roommates are using the same internet connection simultaneously, it's "going to bring down the quality of your interview," Reynolds says.

"If you can ask everybody to refrain for that [time while] you have your interview, that can be a really huge help to make everything look good, and make sure that things work properly on your end," Reynolds says.

3. Adjust your lighting and background

Make sure your setup enhances your appearance and that there's nothing distracting or potentially embarrassing visible behind you during your interview.

Start by finding a spot in your home with a clean, neutral background. If you can't find a great place, you can blur out your surroundings with free virtual backgrounds offered by video call services like Zoom.

You just never know what's gonna change with your settings or what might go wrong right before you're supposed to start.
Brie Reynolds
career development manager and coach at Flexjobs

Check to see that you're well lit, too.

"You want to make sure that the lighting that you have in the room is in front of you, so that it actually lights up your face," Reynolds says. "If you have a lamp behind you or a window, it's going to shadow your face and just make it much more difficult for people to see you when you're actually giving your answer. You might have to move some furniture around to give you the ideal situation."

4. Dress professionally

When you're doing a virtual interview, it's best to dress in the same way you would for an in-person interview. "It doesn't have to be a full suit," Reynolds says. "But you might put on a collared shirt and a tie, or a collared shirt and a jacket or a nice sweater."

If you're tempted to wear yoga pants on the bottom and a blazer on top, for example, because you'll only be seen from the waist up, you might want to reconsider, suggests Reynolds. "I would recommend just kind of doing the whole thing just in case you have to get up at some point during the interview."

Minimal jewelry is best to prevent any light reflection. And it's best to stick with solid colors, too: "Patterns can actually make the pixels on the screen do funny things and it can be pretty distracting," says Reynolds. "Solid colors work really best. Muted colors are also pretty good. Nothing too bright."

5. Practice and look straight into your camera

Take some time to figure out where to look during your call. Speak slowly and clearly to get your points across. "Practice speaking and looking at the camera, instead of looking down at your resume or looking on your screen," Reynolds says.

For interviews that are administered through prerecorded platforms, take advantage of the option to review and rerecord if necessary.

Solid colors really work best. Muted colors are also pretty good. Nothing too bright.
Brie Reynolds
career development manager and coach at Flexjobs

For live video interviews, "leaving time and space in between your answers and letting the person on the other end of your call pick up the conversation and ask the next question or clarify what you said is a good idea," Reynolds says.

Practice can also help you know when to pause. 

"I think on video sometimes we feel like we either have to keep talking or we're talking too much," Reynolds says. "When you have finished your answer and you've said what you need to say. Just sit back and say, 'Does that make sense? Is there anything I can clarify for you?' You have to leave a little bit of that buffer space, because for them, there might be a little bit of a delay, or they just aren't sure if you're done talking."

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