Interviewing in Isolation: Tips and Tricks to Ace That Video Interview

By Emily Small on 26 March 2020


As you’re adapting to these changing times, it might be helpful to get a few tips under your belt of how best to sit an interview from the comfort of your own home.

Read through our top tips for online interviewing so you can ‘Join with Video’ with confidence.

1. Banish distractions/children

Lock. Them. Up. Sorry, I meant out. This includes pets too. For the odd hour that you’re interviewing, make sure you’re in a private space, and all pets, children, spouses, etc. know you’re not to be interrupted. You don’t want to do a repeat of this guy.
Having food or drinks near you can also be a subconscious distraction. Nothing like unwittingly reaching out for a handful of Cheezels, only to realise mid-cheesy-crunch what you’re doing during a video call.
Also, turn off your phone, and any desktop notifications on your computer. When the only thing to look at is your face, it’s really obvious when your eyes dart away from the camera to look at something else – including yourself. Remove distractions to minimise the risk of this and keep focussed on the interviewers.

2. Everyone is judging your interior design

You may think that your well-prepared answers will be the centre of attention, but rest assured everyone’s eyes will be straying to that pile of stuff you have on top of the cupboard behind you.  Spend some time setting up your space for your interview. Try and sit in front of a neutral backdrop, or at least something that won’t distract. A plain wall will do the trick, maybe a large antique oak bookshelf filled with dusty leather-bound tomes to make you appear enigmatic and wise. Limit bright colors in the background as they’re distracting and can mess with the lighting.

3. Get dressed

“You can be under-dressed, but you can never be over-dressed.” – Tyra Banks, probably.

An interview is one of those instances you don’t want to be underdressed. Even though you’re just sitting at home in your athleisure for most of the day, make an effort for the interview. Put on a business shirt, comb your hair, shave that small chin animal you’re trying to call a beard – first impressions are everything, even over grainy laptop cameras.

And always wear pants. Because the one time you don’t, you’ll need to stand up quickly, and times have changed - flashing the interviewers won’t get you hired anymore.

4. Lights, Camera - oh just hang on I don’t think the sound is working? Can you hear me? I can hear you – hello?

Technology is a beautiful beast, but notoriously fickle. Always test your sound and camera before an interview. Most video call apps offer a test when you’re joining the call. You can also do some tests on your laptop’s camera app. Best practice would be to call a family member or friend beforehand to test everything – better yet, call your recruiter and get some good interview prep in as well.

Ensure your internet connection is strong as well. Consider who else in your household is using the internet – might need to get the kids off Fortnite because it’s hogging all the bandwidth. Close other applications on your computer to keep the performance power focused on the call.

Further, most of the common video call apps – Zoom, Bluejeans, etc. – usually require participant codes and meeting IDs, or something similar. Mucking around trying to find those numbers and jumping through all those hoops can take some time, so start signing into the call 5 minutes early to give you space to get that wrong a couple of times. If you’re not five minutes early, you’re five minutes late.

5. Angles are everything

Anyone with a face made for radio knows you can instantly go from a 1 to a 6 with good angles and lighting. Same goes for video calls – you want your face and expressions to be clear, and easy to see, so you present professionally yet candidly to the interviewers. 

Try and sit with light in front of you, like in front of a window or a lamp. Don’t sit with the light behind you as this will make you look like an anonymous whistle-blower on 60 Minutes.

Elevate your laptop slightly so that the camera doesn’t need to be angled too much. Angled down and the focus will be on your double chin, angled up and all they’ll be thinking of the entire interview is how you really need to trim those nose hairs.
Also, consider your eyeline. Move the window close to the top of your screen, or wherever your camera is so that it looks like you are looking into their eyes as much as possible. Stop looking at yourself. Use that five minutes where you’re checking the technology to check yourself out and get it out of your system.

7. Cancel all the noise

Make sure there’s no TV or radio going on in the room or adjacent room that will filter through the microphones. Wear headphones with a microphone if you can to minimise background noise.

8. This is still an interview

Just because there are no sweaty handshakes involved, this is still an interview and therefore all the normal interview tips apply. Still have a notepad with some pre-prepared questions. Watch your body language – look at the interviewers, don’t look around. Think about your subconscious habits – just because you’re at home doesn’t mean it’s gold-digging time. Keep a mindset that you are there face to face, and you have an impression to make.
These are different times, but that doesn’t mean we need to lose our groove. Adapt and overcome and land your next job from the comforts of your living room.

Good luck!


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