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Video Interview Tips: How to Get the Job Without Being in the Room

Woman with laptop in video interview

Many of us are stuck at home right now because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, most job interviews are currently taking place online. Thanks to video conferencing apps like Skype and Zoom, employers can get to know candidates without having to meet them in person.

But this 'new normal' isn't really anything new at all. Recruiters have been conducting video interviews for years now - their popularity was on the rise even before the lockdown made them a necessity.

[more]So it's very possible that you experienced a remote job interview long before you'd heard of COVID-19. Still, those of you who are new to the video interview game needn't worry - if you're a good fit for the job, this will usually shine through whether you're in the same room as your prospective employer or not.

To help you feel more confident, here are 10 top tips to help you prepare for that all-important video call.


10 tips for video job interviews

  • Familiarise yourself with the technology. When invited to 'attend' a virtual interview, ask your prospective employer what software they use for video calls. Install the necessary software as soon as you can, and give yourself plenty of time to practise using it - you won't have time to figure out how it works once the interview is underway! (You should also check your camera and microphone to ensure that the interviewer will be able to see and hear you.)

  • Check your connectivity. Make sure you have a fast, stable Internet connection that will be able to support a high-quality video call. Wired connections tend to be quicker, so consider using an Ethernet cable. If you live with other people, you may want to ask them to stay off the Internet during your job interview (or at least refrain from streaming TV shows or downloading large files). Some technical issues may be unavoidable, of course, so make sure you stay professional even if something goes wrong.

  • Choose a suitable location for the interview. You ideally want a spot that's quiet and private, with decent lighting. Don't conduct the interview in a room that gets a lot of foot traffic - you don't want your family members or housemates pottering about in the background while you're trying to impress your future boss. Oh, and whatever space you choose, be sure to tidy it up and make it look as professional as possible!

  • Make sure you won't be interrupted. Lock the door if possible; failing that, put a 'do not disturb' sign or some sort of notice on the door to make it clear that you're not to be interrupted. If you have pets, make sure they're not going to be able to wander in and distract you mid-interview.

  • Dress to impress. Don't wear pyjamas just because you're at home - the other person can still see you, so follow the usual job interview dress code. Not only will the interviewer appreciate the effort you've made to look smart, you yourself will feel more professional and probably give a better performance as a result.

  • Don't be overly reliant on notes. When preparing for a video interview, you may be tempted to print out some pre-written answers or write down the key points you want to talk about. It's fine to keep a copy of your CV on hand, but it won't look very natural if you're constantly looking off-screen to refer to your notes. You wouldn't take loads of scraps of paper into a face-to-face job interview, so don't fall into the trap of relying on them now.

  • Close all unnecessary tabs / windows. When using your PC or laptop to conduct a video interview, it's all too easy to get distracted by news articles, social media updates, pop-up notifications and so on. But your attention should be entirely on the interviewer - so close those tabs, mute those notifications, and do whatever you can to make sure you don't get distracted.

  • Look at the camera, not at yourself. During a video call, lots of people end up focusing on the little window that shows what the camera is seeing. But if you're looking at yourself, you're not making eye contact with the interviewer - try to keep your eyes on the camera so that they feel like you're addressing your answers to them.

  • Don't forget the importance of body language! Since you're not in the same room as the interviewer, you may need to put a bit more effort into your facial expressions and body language to make sure you're understood. There's no need to gurn and wave your arms around, but you shouldn't sit perfectly still either. For example, you should nod while the interviewer is talking, and use hand gestures to emphasise the points you make.

Want some more video interview advice? Check out these 5 top tips from Ricky Martin, our Managing Director:

If you're looking for a new job in the life sciences sector right now, be sure to check our Science Jobs page regularly - lots of employers are still looking for new talent in spite of the current crisis!

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