6 Pro Tips for Your Next Video Interview


With Skype, Google Hangouts, and a myriad other web-based video conferencing tools, video interviews are becoming increasingly more commonplace, making it more important than ever to put your best face forward during an online interview. Master these six easy tips and you’ll be on your way to looking and sounding like a broadcast pro.

1. Be Conversational, Not Casual
One purpose of a video interview is to establish rapport; therefore, it’s important to consider how you come across. Using slang or ending your sentences on an up pitch (think of the valley girl phrase “Like, oh my GOD!”) isn’t entirely professional, but using overly stuffy language or office-speak (words and phrases like “at the end of the day,” “disconnect,” and “harmonize”) will make you sound like a robot, devoid of any personality.

So how, exactly, do you sound conversational, yet professional?

Speak in short sentences, use contractions, and utilize the active voice. Here’s an example of a sentence in the active voice: “Our team met the project deadline.” That same sentence in the passive voice sounds like this: “The project deadline was met by our team.” Do you hear the difference?

The last tip to sounding conversational is what I just did: Ask a question to get feedback.

2. Reinforce Your Brand through Your “Set”
You have likely seen doctors interviewed in a hospital, lawyers interviewed in front of a bookcase, and politicians interviewed with the American flag draped next to them. Those props are no accident. They are carefully staged to reinforce the expertise and brand of the speaker.

What’s your brand? Do you want it to be that photo of you in the background where you’re hoisting a beer with friends? Or do you want something that reflects your profession and personality?

If you’re a graphic designer, you may want to have artsy pictures in the background, especially designs you created. If you’re a writer, consider using books or photographs of famous writers. Whatever you select, just be sure it’s something that speaks to your professional passions.

3. Dress for the Camera
The camera doesn’t like busy patterns. That means no plaids, strips, squares, or polka dots. Stick to solid, dark colors. White and light colors cause the camera to decrease the size of the iris because of the reflective nature of bright colors. When that happens, your face becomes darker and many of your expressions are lost.

4. Look at the Camera Lens, Not the Computer Screen
Looking at the computer screen, rather than directly into the camera lens, makes it look as if you are having an interview with yourself. You want to look your conversation partner in the eye, and the only way to do that in an online video interview is to look directly into that little teeny camera lens at the top of your computer screen.

5. Put Yourself in the Best Light

You don’t need to know the details of stage lighting, but understanding where and how to place lights can mean the difference between looking like a crazed stalker, and looking like a knowledgeable expert.

To achieve the best lighting, place one lamp (without a shade) slightly above and to one side of the computer screen. Place another lamp, also without a shade, on the other side of your computer screen to offset the shadow created by the first lamp. This will evenly flood your face with enough light so the camera picks up your best features, without creating harsh shadows.

6. Follow Sound Advice
A good quality microphone and an environment where your voice won’t echo are essential. If you have hardwood floors in the room where you will be conducting the video interview, place a large rug on the floor to absorb some of the sound. Another way to absorb sound is to place a standing towel rack behind your computer screen and drape a large towel or rug over it.

As you can see, you don’t need a broadcast journalism degree to look and sound professional in a video interview. Now go knock ‘em dead!

image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

8 thoughts on “6 Pro Tips for Your Next Video Interview

  1. Shannon Cyr says:

    Superb advice, Vicki! Anyone who reads this will surely do well in a video interview.

  2. Vicki says:

    Thanks, Shannon. I’m looking forward to any reader comments as they “road test” these techniques.

  3. Carrie says:

    I had a Skype interview last week. As I prepared, I found it really really hard to look at the camera and smile. I took a photo of my daughter that cracks me up and taped it to the back of little camera. It was so much easier to look at it and smile through the entire interview.

  4. Christine Holmgren says:

    Thanks for the video-specific interviewing tips. Now that it takes an average of 17 interviews to actually land a job, more and more of us will find this useful!

  5. Myrna Loewnau says:

    i found these blog pieces very interesting, especially about the video conferencing tips.  thanks so much for gathering the information to make us look better !

  6. Shannon Cyr says:

     What a great idea! Best of luck with the position!

  7. Shannon Cyr says:

    We know how you feel, Christine! Keep persevering! William Feather said it best when he said, “Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”

  8. Shannon Cyr says:

    We’re glad you enjoyed the piece. Vicki really did an excellent job writing it! :)

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