How to Prepare for a Successful Video Interview

Posted December 17, 2014 by
Mark Feffer

Mark Feffer

Tools like Skype and Google Hangouts have made online video nearly as easy to use as Facebook. That’s leading more employers to replace some in-person meetings with video interviews. The advantages are obvious: Managers get the opportunity to have a conversation that feels a lot more personal than a telephone interview, without the time and expense that often come with an in-person visit.

Like any other interview, video conversations require preparation. Indeed, they need as much planning as a personal interview. Here are the things you need to consider.

Prepare your space — Set up a neat, professional-looking space that won’t distract from the conversation. Avoid your bedroom: Having your bed and nightstand in the background is a little too personal. You want everything that will appear in the camera’s frame to be neat and orderly. Don’t have a basket of laundry on the sofa behind you or an open door that reveals a hallway full of trash bags.

Also, be sure that you won’t be disturbed during the interview. If you have kids, you’ll need someone to mind them. If you have pets, put them out of the room. Turn off the clothes dryer so its alarm doesn’t go off in mid-sentence.

Check the tech — Don’t wait for the last minute to make sure your camera and microphone work. Have a video conversation with a friend well before the interview is scheduled, so you have time to resolve any problems that crop up. Pay attention to how you’re lit: You should be in-focus and bright, without being overexposed. If you wear glasses, angle your monitor so it doesn’t hide your eyes with its reflection. If you have to, turn it off or cover it with a piece of paper.

Dress up — Put on the same clothes you’d wear if you were going to visit the company in person. If the company is formal, wear a jacket and tie. If it’s more laid back, a business-casual shirt or blouse should do the trick. Also, don’t give into the temptation to dress only above the waist. If for some reason you have to stand up, you don’t want to ruin the impression you’ve made by revealing your cut-off jeans.

Get in character — During the conversation, pay attention to your body language. It’s easy to slump when you’re sitting in front of a computer, but you want to sit up straight and connect with the interviewer. A key is to make eye contact, which is more difficult than it may appear: You’ll be tempted to keep your eyes on the monitor, but focus instead on the webcam. When you do, interviewers will see you looking at them directly. Lean forward and nod during the conversation so the interviewers can see that you’re engaged.

All of this comes in addition to the steps you’d take to get ready for a telephone or in-person interview. For example, research the company so you’ll understand its business and have a list of questions ready so you can understand where the job fits into the employer’s structure and approach. After the interview, send the employer a thank you note.

Think about your surroundings and the technology ahead of time and anticipate what it is you want to interviewer to see. That way, you’ll appear polished and professional, presenting the kind of image that shows employers you’ve got it all together.

By Mark Feffer

Mark Feffer has written, edited and produced hundreds of articles on careers, personal finance and technology. His work has appeared on, as well as on other top sites. He is currently writing for, the top local resource for job seekers, employers and recruiters in Maine.

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