Interviewing Remotely: Definitely wear pants.
Updated: Apr 29, 2021
13 Tips to keeping it professional and successful while interviewing at home.
First Impressions happen before they see your face
Unlike an in-person or phone interview, your first impression during a video interview doesn't actually involve you. The first thing your interviewer might see is a username or email and picture, so double check that they are both interview appropriate. If you’ve been using the same username since middle school (I.e. PartyAngel99, xOx_SuperSaiyanOverlord_xOx), it’s time for a change. Your profile picture is equally important. Choose both a professional and current picture.
Prepare your surroundings
Pick a quiet, well-lit place to interview without an elaborate backdrop so that you can be the focal point on the screen. Remove anything distracting behind you and keep it neutral. Plants are nice, like Zach Galifinakis sitting between two ferns...
Practice makes perfect
Doing a run through interview with a friend beforehand is helpful because your first few video calls are likely to feel awkward, especially if you must retrain yourself to watch the camera and not the screen. Play around with everything beforehand so that when it's interview time, you can shine without being distracted by the program.
Dress the part
When it comes to what you wear, treat your video interview like an in-person interview and dress professionally from head to toe. A professional dress code with video interviews is expected, not excused. “Certain colors, like many shades of blue—royal, navy, sky blue—look great on video, while others like reds and hot colors like magenta can be too bright,” says job search expert Alison Doyle.
Close other programs on your computer
Getting Facebook or email notifications during your interview is distracting and unprofessional. Before your interview, make sure all other windows on your computer are closed (especially if they make noise) or set to “do not disturb.”
If you are interviewing in a house with multiple people or pets, be sure to let everyone in the house know ahead of time that you will be in an interview while securing any animals away from your interview space. Nothing is less professional than having to tell your potential employer to hang on while you shoo your dog away from the camera.
Look at the camera, not the screen
It is very tempting to watch yourself or your interviewer during a video session, but looking directly at the video camera is the only way to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer.
Don't be afraid to help yourself with post-it notes or a copy of your resume handy when you interview. A benefit of having a video interview is that you can have a cheat sheet in front of you so that you don't have to memorize everything you want to mention.
But don't rely too much on your notes
Just make sure your notes are easily scannable so that you use them as quick reminders, not a script. While having notes is certainly a plus, relying too heavily on them can cause awkward pauses during your interview. An interviewer won't be impressed if they only see the top of your head during the interview, so while having notes is good, be sure to use them sparingly.
Watch your body language
Not all physical cues translate from in-person interviews to video interviews, which make the ones that do even more important. Be sure to have good posture and relax your shoulders to avoid stiffness. Try to position your screen so that it is at a natural distance, mimicking the space you would have as if you were in person. Another tendency is to lean in so that the view is only on your face, but that can be overwhelming to watch. Any nervous movements like playing with a pen or fidgeting hands will dilute your impact.
Avoid a "Can you hear me now?" situation
Nothing is more frustrating than only catching every other word a person is saying, so be sure to tweak the video audio ahead of time to make sure you can both hear and be heard without difficulty.
It’s important not to rely on the built-in microphone unless you want to sound like you’re in a bat cave. Get a dedicated microphone and test it out ahead of time.
Make sure the interviewer is engaged
Stop every once in a while, and make sure your interviewer is engaged in what you are saying. Being aware of the interest level of your interviewer is crucial in a video interview since they may have interesting e-mails pop up that direct attention away from you. From a purely visual perspective, you will look much more interesting if you move around, use hand gestures, and stay animated.
A thank-you letter is just as important after a video interview as it is in an in-person interview. Avoid following up on video, though, unless the interviewer requests it!