With remote, flexible and hybrid working environments now here to stay, video interviews are standard tools companies rely on for their recruitment process.

And yet so many people either haven’t had much experience with video interviews, or you might just need a refresher.

this guide will help you prepare to present yourself in the best possible light when being interviewed online.


prepare your room and background for the interview

There’s nothing more distracting than clothes drying rack in the corner in full view of the interviewer.

to help present a calm, professional demeanour to a prospective employer:

  • Make sure the room you select for your interview is quiet, tidy and free from distracting items.
  • Tell people to keep the noise levels down, close the door, and keep pets out of the room - do whatever you can to give yourself the best chance to stay focused and concentrate.
  • Move any photos, decorative items or general untidiness behind you that will distract an interviewer.
  • Change the visual background on the screen to be ‘blurred out’ or choose another professional/appropriate image available. 

dress as if you are going to an in-person interview

The right outfit can boost your confidence, so ensure you are dressed professionally.

Not neglecting the bottom half of your body is essential, as many candidates do when participating in a video interview.

You don’t want to be caught in your pyjama bottoms if you need to get up unexpectedly and the camera is still on!

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be ready to provide evidence of your skills

You usually need to bring documents with you - think portfolio, visuals and other supporting documents - to discuss with and impress the hiring manager during an interview.

This is no different just because it’s happening via video.

  • It would be best if you were prepared to share documents, so have anything you think could be relevant ready on your desktop or in an open tab.

This way, if you’re asked to share anything, you won’t have to ask for time to find it.

You can also keep a ‘cheat sheet’ detailing your most significant achievements handy in case you need a reminder of what to highlight.

A photo of a man wearing headphones while smiling and looking at his laptop in a cafe
A photo of a man wearing headphones while smiling and looking at his laptop in a cafe

stay focused on the interview

If you choose to use a cheat sheet, it's advisable to keep it off your screen - keeping it in an old-school notebook next to your computer is advisable. This keeps your device clear of anything that could compromise you if you're asked to share your screen.

This is particularly likely during tech interviews, when you might be asked to walk an interviewer through your coding, for example.

Software engineering manager Sid Savara told Forbes he has "seen candidates have chat windows open where they are asking friends for help during the interview, or searching Google for help".

He's even seen interviewees complaining to their friends about the interview via chat while still speaking with him.

You don't want to jeopardise your chances of getting the job, so make sure your focus is solely on the interview.

stay focused on the interviewer

When preparing the set-up of your interview space, remember that it is critical to stay 100% focused on your interviewer.

  • Don't be distracted by someone off-screen, or a chat message or text, asking you a question.
  • Remember, you wouldn't be distracted in a face-to-face interview. That simple lack of respect and focus could mean losing out on the job, as some interviewers take this very personally.
  • If you're at home, tell everyone that lives with you - whether they are at home or not - not to distract you for the next hour and by doing so, you hope to avoid an awkward moment damaging your chances of moving to the next interview stage.

ensure your body language is positive

Body language can help maintain your calm demeanour, so keep it open and approachable. Remember that it is a little harder to interpret body language and physical cues online, so be conscious of what your body and face are portraying when you're not speaking.

Just because you're not face-to-face with the interviewer doesn't mean you won't need to portray confidence and positivity.

  • Maintain eye contact with your interviewer - even though this can be tricky when doing so through a screen.
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Mashable advises finding a "balance between looking directly at the image of your interviewer on the screen, and addressing yourself directly to the camera"

practice with the video system

One way to help settle your nerves is to ensure you know the system.

  • Log in ahead of your interview to determine if you'll encounter any password issues or need to install add-ons to be able to join the call.
  • You could also film yourself answering potential questions to establish whether you need to amend your body language.
  • Use this time to ensure you are repositioned adequately on-screen so the interviewer will see you at your best angle.
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Career adviser Paul Bailo encourages job seekers to remember that “camera angles are important”, explaining that “you shouldn’t be looking up or down at the person you’ll be addressing”.

  • You should also ensure your video profile is up to date and professional.
  • Get rid of nicknames on your profile, any unprofessional profile pictures or statuses full of emojis and in-jokes.
  • It would be best to portray yourself as capable and intelligent, not immature and trivial.

Video interviews may be nerve-wracking, but they present significant advantages. You won’t risk being late after getting stuck in traffic, and you can choose an environment you feel comfortable in.

Remembering the benefits can help you stay calm during the process and help you nail your following video interview.

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related: how to stand out in an interview

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