How to Prepare for a Video Interview from Home
Are you preparing for a virtual interview for a remote job interview process? Here’s how to prepare for a video interview, with Zoom interview tips, including what to wear to a remote interview.
Table of contents
- Make sure to smile and appear confident.
- Do have your questions about the role handy on paper or in a Google doc.
- Pause and listen closely, as to not interrupt the interviewer.
- Do thank your interviewer immediately as you begin, and as you conclude.
- “Arrive early” for the video call.
- Take notes, whether on a Google doc in a tab, or on paper.
- If using a Mac, you can use Photobooth to see how you look.
- Find out the company’s appropriate and expected dress code.
- Determine what to wear to dress up (even if it’s only on top).
- Research your interviewer.
- Practice avoiding touching your face and your hair.
- Carefully toggle into a separate screen if you have to.
- Find the perfect spot for sitting in to take a video call.
- Use a clean, neat, professional and natural video interview background
- Sign in to the video meeting early to get a clear test run.
- Take the video call where your WiFi is strongest.
- Determine if you will use headphones or computer audio.
- Test your remote video setup for background noise.
- If using a new platform, test the service with a friend.
- Use Krsip.ai to cancel background noise.
- Make sure you’re connected to the 5G version of your router.
- Having a phone call as a backup plan.
- Have a backup internet plan.
- Plan B: Create a Whereby room.
- Adjust Google Meet bandwidth settings.
- Have a backup pair of headphones.
- If your headphones are wireless, make sure they’re charged.
- The day before, run a speed test to determine the volume on your network.
- Remember to bookmark all these video and Zoom interview tips for future virtual interviews.
We’ve all been there: you get past the ‘phone screen’ step of the interview process (great job so far, by the way) and now you need to find out how to ace a remote job interview.
Whether the company at which you’re interviewing calls it a “remote interview,” “online interview,” “video interview” or “virtual interview,” you have to know how to prepare for a video interview because you need to pass this step.
My video interviews recently have gone well thanks to a few solid tips and best practices!
You’re going to want to know what to wear to a remote interview, what to know about online interview tips and what to expect in the remote job interview process.
In this guide, we’ll list a few main categories of online interview and video interview tips:
- How to go into a video interview with a positive attitude
- How to stand out in a video interview
- How to prepare for a virtual interview
- How to nail a video interview location, environment, background and setup
How to go into a video interview with a positive attitude (and confidence)
If you’re already on a daily schedule of working remotely or working from home, then you’re familiar with how to stay connected while working remotely. You do this all the time!
These days, it’s more and more common to be offered a remote video interview as a first-round interview for a job in your city. You also may experience first, second and final round video interviews for a remote job, or a job that is hybrid in an office in your city.
A remote video interview sure does put more of a face to a name than a simple phone call. This is especially true if you’re interviewing for a remote role, or if the company works in distributed teams.
No one said taking a remote interview is easy, especially when there are so many factors to navigate. It’s therefore important to head confidently into an interview to show your worth and value.
I like to go into video interviews being grateful that I don’t have to go to an office, get dressed up from head to toe and awkwardly in a lobby or at a reception. Let’s be thankful this is no longer the norm!
Consider that on the bright side, a video interview is a great way to stay connected if you’re already working remotely. It provides a nice way to let your personality shine.
Are you working from home for the first time? Start your prep with setting up a proper home office.
How to stand out in a video interview
An in-person interview gives you time to shine. You get to show your future (hopefully) employer how you hold a conversation, how you shake hands and how you hold eye contact confidently.
In a video interview, you’re trying to look at that tiny black hole of a camera in your laptop screen where your interviewer sits, on the other side, waiting to be impressed.
Naturally, you have to stand out. How can you be the memorable candidate of the day?
Make sure to smile and appear confident.
Smile. Smile. Smile. And look genuinely interested and engaging.
A smile is something that can shine through the computer screen like a bright light if you choose to act confident, grateful and happy to be speaking with your interviewer(s).
It’s been proven that smiles make people likable, so why not start off with a bright and cheery smile, whether you’re excited, nervous, anxious or eager? Lucky for you, your shaky and sweaty hands are actually something you can hide in a video interview. Cover it up with a look of confidence, positivity and calm.
Remember that, even if you’re getting ready to quit your job, avoid negative talk about your current employment.
Do have your questions about the role handy on paper or in a Google doc.
We’ll cover this again in the rest of this guide, but take note: it’s okay to have things written down on your trusty notepad or notebook. It’s also ideal to have your interview questions in a Google doc that you toggle into.
Essentially, having a notebook at your fingertips and your notes and questions written there allows you to continue giving your interviewer attention while you reference the remarks you’d like to bring up.
If you’re more digital, having the questions in a Google doc are completely fine, as long as you read them naturally. I’ve been doing this in all my interviews.
Pause and listen closely, as to not interrupt the interviewer.
If you or your interviewer are hard to hear, it’s easier and easier to interrupt each other, and that’s especially possible if there’s a delay.
Pausing can be painful, as can delays or echoes (we’ll get into how to avoid bad connections later). Try to remember that interrupting can be worse. Stay patient.
Do thank your interviewer immediately as you begin, and as you conclude.
Just as you would do in a regular interview, remember to immediately thank your interviewer for his/her/their time as you begin. Keep in mind that ‘thank you’ should be your last words before signing off the video call.
I also like to end with, “Thanks again for your time,” and, “Have a great rest of your day!” (or if it’s Friday, “Have a great weekend!”). It’s personal and friendly.
“Arrive early” for the video call.
As you would aim to arrive 10 minutes early for an in-person interview, aim to join the Zoom call or Google Hangout with a 3-5 minute lead time.
This is a good precaution to take and a good ideal practice just in case your interviewer also signs in early and sees that you were ready, rather than late.
Take notes, whether on a Google doc in a tab, or on paper.
I always take notes in a Google doc in a separate tab during interviews.
In fact, one of my handiest moves these days is to minimize an interview into the Zoom thumbnail or the smallest-possible window of Google Meet. I slide these windows to the top of my screen, closest to my laptop camera, so that I’m looking at the interviewer as closely as possible in the camera.
Then, in a bottom window that I stretch to fill the rest of the screen, I open a fresh Google doc, where I take notes about the role, and also write down the questions I’m asked so that I don’t forget what I’m talking about while answering.
After Becca got the Dell XPS, she had to adapt to the fact that the camera is on the bottom portion of the screen. Consider how you look to your interviewer based on camera location on your laptop or webcam.
How to prepare for a virtual interview
Now that you’re aware of the professional advice that comprises online interview tips, let’s see how to get ready for a video interview.
In preparing for a virtual interview, it pays to have your video setup ready at your laptop or home desktop computer.
In order to stand out during this video interview as a candidate who has prepared well, what can you do to perfect your setup?
If using a Mac, you can use Photobooth to see how you look.
Remember Photobooth? It took my college campus by storm between 2006-2007. If you have a MacBook, you have the Photobooth app.
Photobooth isn’t just for stretching your face with the funny filters: it’s a way of seeing how you look without using Zoom or making a test video call over Google Meet.
Zoom and Google Meet will show you a preview of how you look before you join the call, but require you to actually click on the meeting URL. If you’re still waiting for the meeting URL or don’t want to join quite yet, Photobook can help you out.
See how you look and if your video interview location is appropriate. We’ll get into this shortly!
Find out the company’s appropriate and expected dress code.
Consider that what to wear to a remote interview depends on the industry. The “video interview dress code” will vary, whether you’re interviewing at a chilled-out tech startup or an international bank.
If you are able to, ask a friend in a similar industry which type of dress is expected for this video interview.
As a safe bet, I usually always wear a blouse, and I add jewelry for a visual pop. (I wear leggings, shorts or whatever I want, on the bottom!)
Working from home can make you forget how to dress up. Use our work from home tips to brush up on how dressing up can make you ‘feel’ professional even if you’re in your house.
Determine what to wear to dress up (even if it’s only on top).
When picking out what to wear to a remote interview, give yourself that test run and see how you’ll look to the interviewer. Remember to avoid distracting prints or stripes, which may look funny on screen.
If you’re in an industry that expects professional and formal dress, keep in mind that you’ll only be seen from above your waist. If it’ll help you mentally feel ready, dress up from head to toe.
Wear shoes, too, if this helps you! Being barefoot can make you feel ‘too comfortable.’ We recommend some ideas for flats for women in our ladies’ shoe guide.
Research your interviewer.
Every applicant should research his or her interviewer.
If you’ve been speaking with a recruiter up until this point, the recruiter will likely provide the name of your remote video interviewer, and his or her LinkedIn.
You can also Google this person to find out more about their professional accomplishments, specialties, former places of work, and so on. I have found that lately, recruiters have not directly provided me with the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile, so I google “Name” + “Company” to find that beforehand.
Practice avoiding touching your face and your hair.
Many people touch their face and hair when they get nervous. The bright side of an interview is that you’ll realize when you touch your face and hair or adjust your glasses, because you’ll be looking at yourself.
The day before your interview, take a half-hour to mindfully practice touching your face and hair less. If you like wearing your hair ‘down,’ reconsider if this will mean you’ll be fidgeting with your hair a lot. It can be distracting to the interviewer, who gets a clear view of you on a screen.
As a tip for women, I always wear my hair pulled back with clips or hair ties. I have pretty bad habits of fidgeting with my hair, like a nervous habit, and with my hair set in a “do,” I don’t touch it at all when interviewing on video.
Carefully toggle into a separate screen if you have to.
I learned this the hard way: if you plan to have some other type of information available for reference, you have to be smart about pulling it up while your interview is live.
Put your interview into the minimized thumbnail format (unless it’s in a full-screen software) while it’s in progress, to avoid total distraction.
Remember that you want to impress the interviewer and give him or her your full attention.
How to nail a video interview location, environment, background and setup
There are a few unspoken rules to setting up your video interview location and making sure your environment is as top-notch as it can be for this remote interview.
Below, we’ll fill you in on some tips and tricks from the tech side about preparing for a virtual interview so that it’s successful.
Find the perfect spot for sitting in to take a video call.
A perfect video interview location in your home should be one without distraction. Your video interview background could be a wall, or if your space does not allow it, then having more depth is okay if you can guarantee that no family members, roommates or pets will walk by.
Remember also that having a window as a background can create some problems when it comes to a video interview backdrop. Windows will create back-lit scenarios, making your face dark. Also, if you have a window to one of your sides and not the other, it could create an awkward shadow.
I recommend drawing the curtains closed and working with a lighting setup over which you have control, or sitting in front of a window that illuminates your body.
You can also download one of our free Zoom backgrounds! Check them out.
Use a clean, neat, professional and natural video interview background
If you’re asking, “Should I use a virtual background for an interview?” The answer is probably yes if you got as far as thinking of this question!
I’ve had a lot of luck with using virtual backgrounds for online video meetings, and meetings are quite similar to video interviews, technically speaking.
I once took a video interview in a hotel room while I was on vacation, and used one of the handy minimalist (and free) virtual backgrounds from Google Meet. I think it even looked real!
We have some virtual backgrounds that you can have, for free! Check out our free virtual backgrounds here. Enjoy!
I’m excited to share some video interview tips here in regard to how to look your best and be low-stress during an online interview.
- Use the ‘blur background’ feature in Zoom and Google Meet (this one is continually my favorite)
- Try one of the Zoom virtual backgrounds like a clean office space or wall of books
- If you want a creative idea for a video interview background, take a photo of your home office when it’s super clean and neat, and then upload it as your virtual Zoom background. In case you’re having a messy day, no one will know!
Sign in to the video meeting early to get a clear test run.
Always be early!
**When it comes to video interview setup, sign in early for a few reasons:**
- See how you look (hair, outfit, lighting)
- Test your sound (make sure to decrease echoes in the room
- See how your video interview background is working out
- Make sure you have your password ready for Zoom, Google Meet or another video platform, and store that password safely in a password organizer like 1Password
Take the video call where your WiFi is strongest.
As we mention in our home office setup guide, some houses will experience stronger WiFi in some rooms than in others.
If you’re aware of how WiFi is stronger in the TV room than in the living room, choose the TV room for the interview and start your virtual interview setup there.
The reason for really being picky about WiFi is that video takes a lot of bandwidth and if your internet is a dab less than stellar, your interview may have lag or a delay, or you may even appear blurry.
I once had a video interview where one of the interviewers had a lag in audio and video and it was not fun for anyone.
Determine if you will use headphones or computer audio.
Whether to use headphones or computer audio for a video interview is up to everyone’s preference.
While Dan likes taking his video meetings with these noise-canceling headphones, I prefer to use AirPods for every single remote interview.
Again, this is totally up to your preference. If you can do a trial run for your video interview setup with a family member or a friend over Skype or Google Meet, you’ll have a better idea of how you’re comfortable listening and speaking.
I did this once with Dan, from the bedroom to the living room. I set up a Google Meet invitation called “Test,” and then we both attended, seeing how it sounded and looked. I also made sure I could do a screen share, as some final presentation interview rounds require presenting a slide deck or Powerpoint.
Test your remote video setup for background noise.
Continue the practice run of your virtual interview by testing for background noise and how to get rid of it.
If you live in a city like NYC, you’re probably pretty accustomed to loud airplanes flying overhead, and very frequent ambulances and firetrucks with alarms sounding (the noise can reverberate off buildings like a big echo).
If you have noisy heat pipes or noisy vents, try to stay clear of those as well. If you have a puppy, try to put him or her in a closed room where barking or yelping won’t be a distraction.
This is the same for if you have small children: arrange for a parent or caretaker to be engaging small children so that they can leave you with some quiet.
A big tip is that you can use a background noise-blocking service like Krisp to block out unwanted noise during your calls. Make sure that you test Krisp out multiple times with a test call like the one we mention above.
If using a new platform, test the service with a friend.
During the remote job interview process, you may find out that your video interviewer would like to hold the interview over a platform you’ve never heard of before. This might be something like Hire Vue, which I was introduced to for the first time recently as an interview video platform accessed online.
If your video interviewer denotes that the virtual interview will take place over a program that’s new to you, do your research and download it for a test run.
See more about Zoom and meeting apps in our guide to staying connected as a remote worker or while working from home.
Use Krsip.ai to cancel background noise.
Have you heard of Krisp?
We heard about Krisp through a professional connection, and as it turns out, Krisp.ai is an app that cancels background noise with the click of a button and a free trial.
You can speak without background noise, and you can also listen to other participants in a call without their background noise.
For more information about Krisp, check out our guide on how to remove background noise on calls.
Make sure you’re connected to the 5G version of your router.
Most routers nowadays have a regular network and a 5G version of the network.
Make sure you’re connected to the 5G version for your video interview call. All you have to do is go to your WiFi settings and verify which network you are connecting to.
Having a phone call as a backup plan.
If internet speed is problematic, you can start with the video-enabled mode. You can have an introduction, and say ahead of time that you may be experiencing connectivity issues, but you wanted to be able to meet face-to-face first.
Tell your interviewer that you’ll continue the interview with video so that the audio is as seamless as possible.
If Google Meet is problematic, have a backup plan like a call-in number through a phone, or a Skype or Zoom account.
It also helps to be able to foresee a need for this. If the recruiter who sets up your video interview does not provide a backup phone number, you can request one for the call.
Have a backup internet plan.
If you are friendly with a neighbor and can see their router, politely ask for their password in case you are having issues with yours.
You can also start a tether connection from your phone, and use your cellular connection as a backup plan.
On the off chance that you have a service interruption, you should always have a backup plan!
In case you need to resort to a phone interview (if there are technical difficulties with video), keep your phone fully charged (and on silent) close to your laptop. While you take your video interview, do keep your cell phone face-down, as to not distract from getting texts or notifications!
Plan B: Create a Whereby room.
Have you heard of Whereby?
As an alternative to having a phone call if your virtual interview setup backfires, you can create a Whereby room that your interviewer can hop into.
Adjust Google Meet bandwidth settings.
Specifically, with virtual interviews being held via Google Meet, you can change your settings and change your bandwidth settings.
In doing this, you can make the other end of the video lower-quality to help save and be smart about bandwidth.
Have a backup pair of headphones.
In case noise-canceling headphones die or decide not to work, have a backup pair of headphones nearby!
This has worked for me when I’ve counted on my AirPods working and then they decide to act up.
So, I suggest having some alternate over-ear headphones like these sitting right nearby for backup use.
If your headphones are wireless, make sure they’re charged.
Make sure your wireless headphones get charged the day before or the morning before the video call.
No one wants headphones that go dead during the middle of a virtual interview!
One hack that I do for myself is whenever I’m not charging my iPhone, I charge my AirPods case. When I feel like the AirPods case must be done, I plug my iPhone back in, and it’s a charging cycle like this.
I now have a pair of the Bowers & Wilkins On-Ear Headphones and I must say, I’m pretty pleased! On-ear headphones are new for me, so I use my AirPods as a first choice, and these for when I’m in the mood (good for music).
In addition to charging headphones, make sure your laptop is charged, if you’ve brought it into another room and away from your charger. Or, bring your charger with you and stay plugged in during the interview, which is the optimal route.
The day before, run a speed test to determine the volume on your network.
We’re going to teach you a trick.
Go to Fast.com, let the page load, and when the speed test finishes, click on “Show More Info.”
Then, look at “upload speed.”
The video that you’ll be projecting during your video interview is going to be sent over through upload speed, so you want to make sure it’s as fast as it can be.
Otherwise, the video for the interviewer will be choppy from their end.
Make sure any service or usage within your WiFi network that’s using bandwidth in the background is disabled during the interview.
On your end, you can pause things like Dropbox or Adobe Creative Cloud from syncing. Also check that no one on your network is playing games, uploading files or using a lot of bandwidth.
Remember to bookmark all these video and Zoom interview tips for future virtual interviews.
Good luck! You’ll be great!
Make sure you see all our tips, including how to work from home with your partner, how to make your work-at-home schedule and the best tips for setting up that home office, even if you have a small apartment to work from.
Last updated on November 6th, 2022
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