How to Slay Your Video Interview

video interview

In today’s digital age, it’s much easier to learn about opportunities, even ones far from home. Due to distance restrictions and larger applicant pools, video interviews are becoming more common. If you’ve never done a video interview, it may seem quite awkward (I must not be the only one who feels like webcams highlight all my worst angles), but they’re not that bad. Here’s my advice to slay your next video interview, and make it as un-awkward as possible. You’re going to kill it!

1. Dress Like a Boss

Basically, you want to dress like your to-be boss would (assuming they’re at least a bit stylish). Avoid crazy prints, flashy accessories, and showing too much skin. When in doubt, go the conservative route, and remember: nobody will judge you for looking too classy.

2. Set Up Your Laptop for Success

The last thing you want to happen is having your laptop die or wifi fail. Make sure you’re plugged in, have a backup plan if your wifi is shifty (cell phone data hotspot perhaps), and have enabled sound and your video cam so you don’t have that awkward “I can’t see you, can you see me?” for an introduction. Oh, and please silence your cell phone and have it out of view.

3. Make Sure Your Underwear isn’t in the Background

No seriously! Double check what’s in the background of your shot, which ideally should be clean and professional. Pick an appropriate location as well. Having an interview in your bedroom IRL would be extremely creepy, so if you can, move to the living room.

4. Do Your Homework This Time

We all know sometimes you can get away with not doing your work and the teacher doesn’t check. This is not one of those times. Do your research on the company prior! You should know the interviewer’s name, what the company does, any recent news regarding the company, the job description, and answers to all the basic “what’s your biggest weakness”-level questions.

5. Rapport Still Matters

You can’t shake their hand, but you still have to establish rapport. Ask them how their day is going, smile, make eye contact—AKA act like a non-socially-awkward individual would in real life and you’ll do great.

6. Act Like a Singer

This means sitting up straight as a board and using that diaphragm! Resonant, loud voices are so much better than meak ones.

7. Don’t Act Dead

This is horribly easy to do on a video call. Pump yourself up prior to the interview (Shakira soundtrack on Spotify may help) so you don’t accidentally come across like a zombie. Another tip for this is to gesture as one naturally would while speaking. Make sure your webcam gets your torso in the shot so you can gesture visibly. Side tip: a professional speaker once told me to use “spatula hands” while gesturing which means gluing those fingers together as you gestur.

8. Cut the Filler Words

So, uhm, yeah, like—you know the culprits. The only way to beat them is to practice. Record yourself and play it back to identify your culprits and “warming up” by saying your responses to basic questions out loud prior to the interview can help you shake the nerves and filler words.

9. When in Doubt, STAR it Out

STAR stands for situation, task, action, results. All the “tell me about a time when” and many other questions can be effectively answered using this framework. Describe the situation, your task, what you did, and the results of that.

10. Be a Good Interviewer As Well

That’s right, you better have questions prepared when they ask you if you have any. It doesn’t matter if you’re not actually interested in the answer: ask them. Bad questions are ones that can be answered easily by Google and those that concern your future benefits (eg. “How much will I get paid?”). Asking about next steps in the process and questions about how to excel in the role are usually good bets.

11. Clean Your Screen

In case you’ll have to demo your skills and share screens, you should make sure you have no tabs open to personal or embarrassing things (like this article).

12. Focus on Lights Before the Camera and Action

Yeah I can never remember if you’re supposed to face the light or have it behind you either (the correct answer is to face it). In general, natural light beats flouresent light, don’t get too close to the light source, and aim to have at least two different light sources. For example, if you’re sitting by a window, turn on the overhead lights as well.

13. Show Up (To Your Laptop) Early

Just like real life, but this time 10 minutes is fine.

14. Don’t Kill The Vibe at the End

I absolutely hate the ends of video calls—they’re just so awkward! Tips learned from my awkwardness: (1) Don’t hang up too quickly (2) Don’t change your tone to that of a terrified five-year-old at the end. Ideally, you’ll restate your enthusiasm for the position and that you think you’re a great fit. Don’t forget to follow up after that within 24 hours to restate your interest in the position and thank your interviewer.

15. Utilize the Biggest Cliché of All Time

Be yourself. Video interviews are already kind of cold since there’s a screen between you, and being too stiff just accentuates this. So loosen up (while maintaining your singer’s posture) and let your natural charm shine through.

Cover photo via