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05.31.2016

Video Interview Checklist

Written By: Don Ross

Interviewing can be overwhelming.  There’s so much to keep track of before the interview starts, and so many things can go wrong during the actual interview.  This is true of all interviews, but doing a video interview presents new challenges.

One way to regain some control is to create a video interview checklist to make sure you’re ready for your upcoming interview.  Unfortunately, most checklists on the internet are simply a list of common video interview questions the recruiter or hiring manager may ask you. In my experience, these are not very helpful video interview tips.  You probably have already read examples of questions for video interviews, and the list is always growing longer. And if the video interview is pre-recorded, you’ll be able to read the questions and prepare for them beforehand.

You can’t have a scripted answer for every question. At a certain point, you’re wasting your time trying to find new questions that may be asked for an interview. Even if you have great answers to every question, you can still botch a video interview.

I’ll assume you’ve already researched the interview questions, so I’m going to share my method for preparing specifically for a video interview.

Step 1: Pick a Place

A video interview gives you the opportunity to set up where the interview will be and what the interviewer can see.  Be aware that you’re going to look different on camera than you do in person.

There are 5 things I consider when picking where to have the interview: 

  1. Privacy: The most private place for you will probably be at your home.  You don’t want family, roommates or pets to be seen or heard in the background.  Make sure to pick a spot where that cannot happen during the real interview.  At the very least, let others know when the interview is so they can hide (or take the dog for a very long walk).
  2. Background: The background should not have distractions that make the hiring manager look away from you.  You want a background that makes it easy to see you in the foreground.  Definitely don’t pick a background that has something that might change, like a window or mirror.  
  3. Camera Position: The camera should record you at eye level.  A secret video interview trick I’ve used is to set up my desk and laptop so that I’m standing throughout the interview.  I think it makes me project better and feel more confident.
  4. Lighting: You can’t be seen in a dimly lit room.  Put a light behind the camera if it makes you easier to see.
  5. Clothing:  Certain colors and patterns look different on camera.  Don’t wear anything that might be a distraction.

Step 2: Prep for the Show

You want to make sure there are no surprises and things go smoothly.  A few things you can do a shortly before the interview are:

  1. Confirm Privacy:  Remind your family or roommates of your video interview in case they forgot.
  2. Set Up Desk:  Make sure camera, lighting, etc. are where you decided before.
  3. Confirm Technology:  Make sure the video interview software is up and running.

Step 3: Get in the Zone

Make sure you are mentally ready right before the video interview starts:

  1. Bathroom Break:  This is pretty straight forward.
  2. Power Pose:  Follow Amy Cuddy’s advice to boost your presence in 2 minutes.
  3. Do Not Disturb:  Put your phone on Do Not Disturb so no one accidentally interrupts the interview.
  4. Eye Contact:  Tape a photo next to the camera to remind you to look at it and not the screen.
  5. Sign In:  Log in to the interviewing software.

Step 4:  Tie Up any Loose Ends

You may be mentally exhausted from the video interview, but it is in your interest to tie up the interview within a few hours:

  1. Thank You:  Write an email thanking the interviewer for his/her time and consideration.
  2. Follow Up:  Mark a time in your calendar to send a follow up email in case you haven’t heard anything.

These items seem simple, but are easy to forget in the heat of the moment.  I hope this checklist helps you for your next video interview.

Don is the founder of Habit Engineering, a blog that analyzes habits that contribute to health, wealth, and happiness.

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