How to Prepare For a Phone or Video Interview

Jul 02, 2020 5 Min Read
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Attending job interviews can be nerve-racking and it doesn’t make much difference whether you are attending the interview at an office or a video interview from the comfort of your own home. 

The silver lining of interviewing from home or remotely via phone or video is that it saves time and resources from traveling. However, preparing for a video interview will take up more time as the technical aspects such as webcam, lighting, Internet connection, and the background of choice are some of the things that candidates need to consider before getting into the interview itself.

Managing physical appearance during a video interview

Eye Contact

The rule of thumb on making eye contact is that it should be no less than five seconds at a time. Look away briefly and then reconnect.

Making eye contact during an interview is important especially when talking to the interviewer via video call. Be sure to adjust your monitor and the position of your webcam depending on where you face the screen. To avoid having you looking down or away on-screen, resizing, and shifting the window with the person’s video image is vital. Move up as close to your webcam as possible. This will provide you with the closest view of physical eye contact.

You will need to remember the difference between good and bad eye contact. Conducting a video call interview can be slightly awkward at first but rest assured you will get the hang of it. The rule of thumb on making eye contact is that it should be no less than five seconds at a time. Look away briefly and then reconnect.

Smile!

Smiling indicates that you are confident and enthusiastic but it can also be interpreted as nervousness. The purpose of smiling is to show that you are a person that is pleasant to work with and has good social awareness. Be careful not to overdo it.

This is to avoid it coming across as creepy or viewed as not taking the interview seriously.

Remain Calm

When we get nervous, we tend to fidget and make involuntary movements such as shaking our leg, playing with our hair or tapping our fingers. Stay clear of repeating the same words or sentences during the discussion too.  To get yourself out of the nervous zone, lots of practice will help you adapt and remain calmer during video interviews. Record yourself by re-enacting the presentation multiple times, then watch and observe how you do. Spot any subtle or distracting movements and learn to tone it down with yet more practice.

Adjusting Your Positioning and Posture

Find the right distance between yourself and the camera to avoid leaning too far forward or reclining too far back.

Your positioning in a video interview should be similar to a regular face-to-face interview except your lower body is not seen. The norm is to sit upright and keep your back straight while you are facing the camera. Make necessary adjustments to your chair so that you are squarely in the frame. Find the right distance between yourself and the camera to avoid leaning too far forward or reclining too far back.

See Also: An Essential Guide To Body Language

Dress Appropriately

Avoid wearing white clothes as it can look too bright and become a distraction. Wearing an all-black ensemble is also discouraged as it will cause the webcam to overexpose your face.

video interview

Be careful not to pick outfits with striking bright colours like reds, yellows, and pinks because the webcam may project your skin in a reddish and unnatural tinge. This depends on the skin tone too, so don’t strike the outfit option off completely. Solid and soft colours will be the safest way to go.

Technical Set-up

Picking a Webcam

Head to the nearest IT store to get a reasonably priced external webcam if you’re not using the built-in camera in your laptop. It’s important for you for have one that gives clear images and resolution. Position your camera angle to be above your eye-line or forehead. It’s recommended to place it on a high angled position or aligned with your eye level for normalcy.

Mobile phones and tablets can also be used because technology has kept up with video recording. Do test out the devices ahead to troubleshoot any potential problems or interruptions that can occur.

Mobile phones and tablets can also be used because technology has kept up with video recording. Do test out the devices ahead to troubleshoot any potential problems or interruptions that can occur. If you are using your mobile phone, attach it to a tripod facing you. Holding the device in your hand during the interview is discouraged and can be amateurish. Mute all notifications temporarily to avoid any interruption during the interview session. Moreover, it is also important to check your mobile phone sim in case you're doing a phone call. Using an esim from Usechalkboard can help you switch mobile networks if needed.

Lighting During Interview

Regardless of how prim and proper you look, it will all be in vain if you conduct the interview in poorly lit conditions. Essentially, natural lighting is the best choice but indoor lighting can work too. Have the light source facing you to avoid shadows. You can do this by placing your light source – a desk lamp or light stand – next to you or facing you in front of the screen.

Webcam Software Options

Most webcams include software to adjust colour, sharpness, white balance and exposure. The tools are pretty handy if the recording quality isn’t that great. Avoid overexposed and oversaturated tones. Stick to natural and soft editing to keep things professional.

Microphone

Consider investing in a microphone or a headset with a built-in microphone if sound quality isn’t that good on your webcam or laptop. A proper microphone will filter out unwanted ambient sounds.

Interview Location (Background)

Pick a quiet place to carry out the interview and make sure that the background does not have any glaring or distracting objects. A good rule of thumb is to have a plain white wall as the background.

Image source  - Photo by Brad Javernick 

A quick checklist to prepare for a video interview:

  1. Tidy up your interview space and have your resume and notebook ready for writing pointers.
  2. Check your lighting and background.
  3. Ensure the webcam is correctly positioned for proper framing.
  4. Conduct a quick test of your webcam to make sure the settings are well adjusted and working perfectly.
  5. Do a test run on your microphone and aim for clear audio.

Best of luck with your video interview!

This might interest you: Take Charge Of Your Career

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You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.
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