Tips to ace your next video interview

By Tricia Campbell
May 21, 2020
Photo credit: Pheelings Media/iStock/Getty Images

Since the onset of COVID-19, many companies established “social distancing” and “work from home” policies. These measures have required organizations and recruitment companies to switch from in-person interviews to phone and video interviews.

For prospective candidates, trying to nail their interview via video conferencing software, such as Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Hangouts, can feel a bit frightening. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

How to prepare for your next video interview:

1. Test your equipment

The moment you know you have a virtual interview coming up, the first thing to do is test your technology to ensure you’re set up for success. Check your internet connection, and make sure your camera and microphone are working properly. If the quality of the image is grainy or you’re hearing an echo, you might need to buy a mini webcam with a built-in microphone—which is impossible to do 10 minutes before the interview, so make sure you’ve got this part covered as soon as you can.

You also want to make sure you know how to sign into and use the video-conference software chosen for the interview.

On the day of the interview, test your equipment and internet connectivity again. Make sure the lighting is good too. You want the interviewer to be able to see you clearly.

2. Determine where to take the interview

Choose where you’re going to take the interview carefully. Find a space with optimal lighting, preferably near a window, or a blank wall to minimize distractions and ensure you are the focal point of the conversation. Make sure the space you choose is tidy. It’s hard to convince employers that you’re super detail-oriented and organized when there’s toys or laundry visibly piling up in the background.

Choose a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted: turn off the TV, put your cell phone on silent mode, and close any windows to muffle neighbourhood traffic. If you have a pet, make sure it doesn’t pop up on camera during your interview!

3. Practice ahead of time

Call a friend or family member first to be sure your equipment works and that you also feel comfortable using it, as well as speaking and listening virtually. When you finish speaking, keep in mind there could be a slight delay, so pause for a slight moment after answering a question in case your interviewer has a follow-up question or comment.

Look at the webcam when you speak, not the interviewer’s face on the screen. This way it will appear you’re looking them in the eye. Eliminate distractions by turning off notifications and other applications on your computer so you’re not interrupted by sounds or pop up notifications.

If you are taking notes during your interview, don’t type as the noise can be distracting. Instead, write your notes by hand on a notebook beside you.

Finally, know that virtual interviews are just as rigorous as in-person interviews, so preparing ahead of time is key to getting the job. To set yourself up for success, follow this list of interview do’s and don’ts.

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Virtual interview "Do’s"

  • Do your homework: To demonstrate your interest in the position and your engagement with the company, read up on the company and understand the responsibilities according to the job description.
  • Be ready to answer compensation questions: Before your job interview, have your answer for compensation expectations ready and if asked, avoid giving a salary range. Provide precise numbers instead.
  • Review behavioural questions and include tangible metrics: Always be prepared for technical questions, as well as behavioural questions. To prepare for technical interview questions, closely review the job description and find relevant examples from your current job and/or training and education. Check out Sample Interview Questions for a comprehensive list of behavioural questions that could come up during your job interview.
  • Dress to impress: Make sure you look professional on camera for your virtual interview. Stay neutral and dress appropriately for the job you are interviewing for.
  • Know your worth and play up your confidence: Learn to play up your confidence and experience without being cocky. Speak to your successes and accomplishments. Sell yourself.
  • Send a thank-you email: Always send a thank-you email the same day/night you had your job interview to show your commitment, dedication, as well as desire to get the job at hand.

Virtual interview "Don’ts"

  • Don’t talk badly about your past jobs: Complaining about your previous positions, bosses, or companies is a big interview mistake and is never recommended.
  • Don’t “friend” your interviewer on LinkedIn: Review your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile, but DO NOT add them as a connection beforehand!
  • Don’t ask basic questions: When it comes to asking the right questions, here’s a good rule of thumb to avoid this common interview mistake: if you can answer the question yourself with a quick Internet search, it shouldn’t be asked in an interview.
  • Don’t brag: The most successful leaders know that they are only as good as their team. Acknowledging this in an interview will make a positive impression.
  • Don’t give answers that are too long or wordy:  If the interview starts with “tell me about yourself,” answer with a clear and concise two-minute elevator pitch that highlights your career’s story, and why you want this job. Avoid answering this question with your life story.
  • Don’t ask about vacation policies: It’s best if you avoid asking about vacation policies, or any company-specific perks, until you get a job offer.

Tricia Campbell, CPA, CMA is a senior search consultant with The Mason Group’s Vancouver Division, an executive search company specializing in accounting and finance roles. 

Originally published by The Mason Group.