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Preparing for Your Live Video Interview

Written By Rachelle Enns on April 12th, 2020
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Rachelle Enns
Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune 500 executives find success in their career.
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In this guide, MockQuestions walks you through everything you need to know about live video interviews, what to expect from the overall experience, the tech and tools you will need, and the 7 critical steps to preparing for and delivering an excellent interview experience. We also address what to do if something goes wrong, and the art of professional follow-up.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Congratulations on booking your interview! The excitement of landing an interview has hit you, but you may also be feeling that wave of nervousness most people get after realizing they need to be camera-ready.

Preparing for a live video interview is similar to preparing for an in-person interview. There are, however, a few extra steps to take since you are introducing technology into the process.

Your live video interview may be one-on-one, or it may be a conference format with multiple decision-makers present. You should know what to expect, going into your meeting. Feel free to ask the person who is making the interview arrangements if there are gaps in the information provided to you.

WHY A VIDEO INTERVIEW?

Many job seekers feel that video interviews are only requested when the hiring company feels mediocre about their candidacy. But rest assured, there are many valid reasons why a company would require a video interview:

Location. If you live in an area where an in-person meeting isn't a reasonable ask (especially in the early stages of your candidacy), the hiring company may suggest a video interview to save time and resources.

Remote Teams. If the hiring company has decision-makers located in a variety of places, they may request a video interview, allowing all stakeholders to be involved in the conversation at the same time.

Travel. If the interviewer is traveling for work but wants to remain on schedule with their hiring plan, they may request a video interview.

Time. When candidate volumes are high, a company may lean on live video interviews for the first or second round, for the sake of optimizing the time of their HR personnel.

TECH AND TOOLS

Before your interview, the hiring company will let you know the tool or platform that they plan to use to execute your live video interview. We highly recommend that you take the time, even a couple of days ahead, to set up correctly. Dodge any tech hiccups on the day of your interview!

Commonly used live video interview platforms include:

Skype
Skype offers local and international calling across nearly any device, including Xbox.

Cost: Free basic subscription

You will need: A laptop or desktop with a webcam and mic, a tablet, or a smartphone.

How to prepare: Ensure that your Skype username, photo, and associated email address are professional. If needed, open a new Skype account used for job interviews and business purposes.

FaceTime
Facetime is a video calling feature available to Apple product users.

Cost: Free

You will need: an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook.

How to prepare: Download the FaceTime app on your device. If you are using an iPad, we recommend a case that acts as a stand. If using an iPhone, try a PopSocket grip or a standing phone case so that you can talk hands-free.

Zoom
Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing platform.

Cost: Free as an attendee. The hiring company will have a subscription.

You will need: A laptop, desktop, or smartphone.

How to prepare: Each meeting has a unique 9, 10, or 11-digit number called a 'Meeting ID,' which will be sent to you by the hiring company via email. This email will also include the proper links needed to join the meeting. The simplest way to join a Zoom meeting is on your computer. Have your camera and mic ready if the session is by video. You can turn the camera off for an audio-only meeting, but be sure to leave this decision to the interviewer.

WebEx
WebEx is an enterprise solution for video conferences and online meetings.

Cost: Free as an attendee. The hiring company will have a subscription.

You will need: A laptop, desktop, or smartphone.

How to prepare: Similar to Zoom, you can join by dialing in by phone or computer. Your interviewer will send you an email with the link and access numbers before your interview time.

GoToMeeting
GoToMeeting is a software for online meetings, video, and web conferencing.

Cost: Free as an attendee. The hiring company will have a subscription.

You will need: A laptop, desktop, or smartphone.

How to prepare: You can join from the desktop app, from a URL or a session ID provided by the hiring company. Again, this information will come to you via email from the hiring company before your meeting.

On the interview platform of choice, check that your associated username and profile picture are professional. This advice is primarily for platforms like Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram, or other tools used for personal and business. For instance, many of us forget that we initially set up our Skype accounts when we were in university, and the appearance may need an update to look more professional.

MAKE A GREAT IMPRESSION

A video interview requires a bit of prep. MockQuestions recommends going through as many of these steps as you can the day before your meeting. This preparation will help you to escape any avoidable or embarrassing issues.

Step 1: Decide on a location.
Setup and appearance are fundamental since video interviews are entirely visual and audio. The location you choose should be quiet and well lit. Stay away from busy backgrounds with a lot of pattern, art, or clutter. Try selecting an area with a neutral background that will have good lighting at the right time of day. If the room has a window, try facing the window. When a window is to your back, you risk looking like a dark shadow to the other attendees.

Choose a low-traffic area away from people, pets, background sounds, or distracting noises. Remove any distractions and clutter on-screen and in the background. You want to be the primary focus on the screen - the star of the show!

Step 2: Test your tech.
You will need a reliable internet connection with good speed. A laptop or desktop computer with a webcam is always the best choice. A tablet or smartphone can work depending on the platform chosen for your interview. If you do not have access to this tech, some public libraries will offer the use of private rooms and equipment on loan. You could also ask a friend if you can borrow their equipment.

About an hour before your interview, take time to set up your device again, ensuring the lighting is right, and that the sound does not echo. Turn off all system sounds on the device you are using. Also, mute any other devices around you.

Step 3: Choose your outfit.
Dress as you would for an in-person interview. If you are afraid of being overdressed, then perform some research on the interviewer ahead of time. What are they wearing in their LinkedIn profile photo? If you have met this person before, what were they wearing at the time? When you look online at the company's website, Instagram, or Facebook accounts, what do their teammates seem to be wearing?

If all else fails, a neutral colored shirt with a collar is always a classic choice. Steer clear of busy clothes with a lot of print or with bright and loud colors. Yes, wear pants.

Step 4: Have notes on hand.
Have a pad of paper beside you and a pen for taking notes. Prepare a copy of the job description/job posting for reference. Keep your resume beside you and jot down some helper notes as needed. It's more than okay to reference these notes throughout your interview, just be aware of looking down too often or for too long.

If you haven't had a lot of time to prepare for your interview, jot down some helper notes for tougher open-ended questions such as 'Tell me about yourself' and 'Why should we hire you?' Lastly, prepare a few points about the company for when they ask, 'Why do you want to work here?'

Step 5: Be aware of your body language.
When you speak, look into the camera of your device and not at yourself (it's tempting!). Sit up straight but look natural - avoid posture that is too stiff, but remember that this isn't a casual convo with a friend, either.

Be ready to show engagement by nodding, smiling, and actively listening. Some hand gestures are natural, but make sure you don't look like an air traffic controller, either.

Step 6: Practice to build confidence.
Common habits among interviewees are to fidget or overuse filler words like 'um' or 'you know.' This issue applies to in-person interviews as well.

If time allows, host a practice interview with a friend through the digital channel you will be using for your real-life interview. Give your friend a handful of questions to ask you. If the technology is available to you, try to record your dry run. Ask your friend to give you honest feedback, implement the feedback, and practice until you feel confident.

Step 7: Arrive early.
Just as you would for an in-person interview, arrive 5 minutes early. It may feel awkward to sit there alone, waiting for the call to come in, but you can take the time for a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you're prepared to absolutely rock your interview.

WHEN THINGS GO WRONG

We all know that tech can have a mind of its own and when the device gremlins feel like messing around with you, it's often at the most awkward of times. Also, there are outside circumstances that we cannot control, such as interruptions from other people.

Hiring companies and interviewers expect that there could be hiccups in the process, and they too experience tech issues or interruptions on their end at times. The most common culprits include:

Unexpected Interruptions. These interruptions can happen at any time. Disruptions include people entering the room, your dog barking, the doorbell ringing, or a sudden coughing fit. Politely excuse yourself, mute your mic, and step away from the screen to deal with the issue.

Sound Issues. If you are having a sound issue, pause and check for microphone levels, device sound levels, or connection strength. If the problem persists, politely ask the interviewer if you can disconnect and try again.

Video Issues. If your video is lagging or cuts out entirely, you may need to move to another location with a more reliable connection. Turn off your camera while relocating, but keep the sound on, letting the interviewer know that you are trying an alternate location.

During situations such as these, the interviewer will be observing you and how you handle unexpected situations. Remain calm, professional, and in control. Communicate your issue clearly and use the opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills.

HOW TO FOLLOW UP

At the end of your live video interview, remember to send the interviewer an email saying thank you. Here is the framework that MockQuestions recommends:

Hello (name of interviewer),

It was a pleasure meeting virtually with you today, and I want to thank you for taking the time to discuss the (job title) opportunity with (company name).

Your knowledge of the position and your description of the role was incredibly helpful. I left our meeting feeling very encouraged and enthusiastic.

I am confident that my experience (insert a few stand out skills discussed in the interview), will help me to be a success, should you choose to grant me the opportunity.

Please contact me If you require any additional information on my background. I am happy to answer any questions. I look forward to hearing from you regarding the next steps in your hiring process.

Very best,
Your Name


FINAL NOTE OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Remember that the interviewer wants you to be the right fit for the job. As much as it is an 'interview,' it's also an opportunity for the interviewer to get to know you.

The company wants you to be the right fit, and they believe that you could be - otherwise, you would not have been chosen for an interview.

Your interviewer is eager and hopeful as well, and they want you to succeed.