How to succeed in a video job interview

Video interviewing is becoming an essential part of the hiring process. During the coronavirus outbreak, companies are moving more and more interviews to video to reduce non-essential face-to-face meetings. Being able to communicate your value well to a prospective employer via video is, therefore, paramount. Here are four tips for managing your nerves and turning up for your video job interview confident and well prepared.


The key to a successful video job interview is to prepare beforehand. Remember to keep testing your environment and equipment regularly to ensure everything is working properly. Practice by making a video of yourself answering the questions on camera as many times as you can to familiarise yourself with all the variables.

Your online interview might be conducted through an application such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype Business, Google Meet, WhatsApp, WeChat, Feishu/Lark, or other video conferencing programs. When you confirm the application, be sure to clean up the profile you will use or create a new professional account. Don’t use any account with a comedic or light-hearted screen name like “loveUxxx92xX” or a profile picture showing you in a similar vein. Plus, in case you are requested to take the interview with an application you are not familiar, do run trials on the software as many times as possible.

You must find a suitable place to conduct a video interview. Key is to be in a place free of distractions. So the best place to do your video interview is in your own home where you can control the surroundings. A coffee shop or a friend’s place may bring unintended distractions that are out of your control. When you are interviewing with a potential employer, try to ensure that no one else is in there, at least in the same room.

We recommend using a laptop or desktop computer with a webcam supported by a stable internet connection with a bandwidth speed of at least one megabits per second. Headphones with a built-in microphone would be perfect.

Pay attention to the lighting too. Finding a good brightness level is essential. You do not want to have light sources behind you since that will leave your face in shadow. Play with the lighting in the room beforehand to help put the perfect spotlight on you.

Dress and Appearance

Dress professionally! Wear the same interview attire you would like for an in-person interview. While the camera angle should only show you from the waist up, there is a possibility you will need to stand up at some point, so make sure everything below the waist looks professional.

Colours work differently on camera than in real life. First, choose clothing that does not blend into the background. Second, try not to wear colors that contrast too much. This means combining pure white and pure black is not ideal. The camera will over-adjust and end up making the white too bright. Third, wearing solid colours are better than patterns which may distort on camera.

If you wear glasses, remember to adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from the lenses.

You should also be aware of makeup. It can come across very differently on camera. You can take a few photos using your webcam to find the right balance.

During the Interview

Make eye contact, and remember that means looking at the camera at eye-level rather than at the faces on your computer screen.

A video interview can deaden your energy, so you have to proactively make sure that you smile and speak clearly, slowly but enthusiastically. Remember not to fidget or make a lot of movement, you may appear out of focus should the connection be slow or unstable. It may also be distracting for the interviewer.

Try to convey optimism with your body language throughout the interview. One way to achieve this is to maintain good posture, sitting with your back straight, feet on the ground, and arms resting on your laptop or the desk. When you are listening, nod and smile when appropriate to communicate.

Memorize important information! Unlike a phone interview where you can rely on notes, video interviews are just like in-person interviews where you cannot use notes or sticky memos. Although interviewers cannot see your notes, it will appear obvious when you look down/elsewhere to review your notes and can disrupt the flow of the conversation.

What If Something Goes Wrong?

You cannot predict an accident, but you can prepare for the worst. There is always a chance of an unavoidable problem. Here are three rules to have ready just in case:

  • Remember to ask for a phone number before the interview so that you can reach the other party if you experience technical difficulties such as audio and/or video cutting out or the connection dropping.
  • Remember to apologise for any interruption (sirens, construction noise, traffic, etc.) and ask for a few moments until the disturbance has subsided. If the interruption is severe, you could mute your microphone.
  • Remember to explain to the interviewer if there is an emergency. If someone enters the room unexpectedly or you need to leave the room immediately, you should briefly tell them what is going on and ask if you can call or email later to reschedule.

As with phone or in-person interviews, you should thank the interviewer for the opportunity and follow up with a post-interview thank-you email within 24 hours. It would be great if you can add something that you and the interviewer discussed that will make your thank-you email more personal.

Editor: Sam Kenworthy (Director – Head of Private Practice, Hughes-Castell)

Contributor: Fai Choi (Marketing Manager, Hughes-Castell)

Published by Hughes Castell

Asia's Premier Firm for Global Legal, Compliance, Risk and Regulatory Executive Search

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