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10 Practical Tips on How to Ace Your Next Video Interview

Including what to wear, how to set up your background, and more!
10 Practical Tips on How to Ace Your Next Video Interview
IMAGE Pexels.com
ILLUSTRATOR Bacs Arcebal
Including what to wear, how to set up your background, and more!

COVID-19 has affected the lives of many Filipinos in a myriad of ways. The most recent, and perhaps one of the most disruptive are the massive layoffs. Reportr.world writes, "Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported an increase in unemployment rate in the country—17.7 percent, to be exact. This is equivalent to 7.3 million jobless Filipinos." With many companies scaling down their operations and conducting mass layoffs, you (or maybe someone you know) may have experienced getting retrenched. Perhaps, you're even forced to look for other ways to earn more money online.

Suppose that you have fortunately found a new job and your future employer requires a video call interview. In the new normal, aside from the usual resume review and phone interview, video call interviews are a necessary step, in place of the in-person interviews. They allow a two-way street interaction that lets your employer learn more about you and gauge your skills and overall nature. Meanwhile, it lets you have the opportunity to show why you're the best person for the job. But yes, we know, video call interviews can be extra stressful especially when there's a lot at stake. 

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So, if you're feeling a little jittery in sitting down for a video call with a hiring manager, here are 10 practical tips you can turn to as part of your preparation. Career strategist, resume writer, and recruiter, Jenny Foss of Jobjenny.com, shares with us through Linkedin Learning everything you need to know to nail your video call interview.

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1. Learn as much as you can about what to expect.

If you're working with a recruiter, ask about the details of the interview. You may ask things like: "How many people are going to be in the call? What's the hiring team going to be looking for? Do you have some prep materials that you might be able to share?" Jenny says asking these things won't make you seem dumb or feel like a bother. By asking the right questions, you'll be able to prepare well for the interview.

2. Next, do your homework.

Jenny says, "Study up on who you'll be interviewing with. Where can you do this? LinkedIn. Study the products or services that they offer. Do some sleuthing online to learn more about what's going on at that company or within their industry. This will not only help you angle your answers towards stuff that aligns with their goals and their priorities, it'll help you come up with some thoughtful questions to ask." This brings us to the next tip.

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3. Be prepared to ask your interviewer questions.

"The absolute last thing you want to say when they ask you: "Do you have any questions for us?" is "Nope, not one." [Instead,] have a handful of questions written down in front of you so that you're ready to engage and look genuinely interested when you get to the end of the interview."

 

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4. Align your outfit to the company's vibe and over all culture.

"While some career experts will insist that you dress up in your finest suit, I'm going to argue that this advice is a dinosaur." Jenny explains, "Certainly, you want to look polished and put together, so don't go with that ratty old T-shirt you've been wearing since college. But you also want to look relatable, as in like someone who's going to fit right in around that place. So I recommend choosing an outfit that aligns with your understanding of that company's culture and their dress code."

5. Do some test shots with your outfit.

As tedious as it may seem, testing out which colors suit you best will prove to be advantageous later on. Jenny explains, "Next, be mindful of what's going to show on camera and how it's going to appear on the other end. White might be amazing at an in-person interview, but it's likely going to make you look too bright, or washed out on camera. Likewise, super busy patterns might be your absolute jam, but they tend to look distracting on camera, and in the worst case, they might make the person on the other end dizzy."

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She adds, "Simple, rich colors that tend to work really well include mustard yellow, reds that aren't too bright, sapphire blue, and plum." Additionally, don't go for acid, flurouscent, blinding colors. Make sure the hues you choose flatter your skin tone, not distract your future empoyer.

6. Coordinate your outfit with your background.

Proper preparation will always steer you in the right direction. That means, thinking about not just our video call outfit, but also what your background looks like with it. Jenny shares that neutral-colored backgrounds like beige and gray, or even serene colors like blue, look better over white walls which have the tendency to wash you out. Additionally, busy wallpapers against a patterned top can translate to a dizzying look on camera, so be mindful of that, too.

 

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7. Set up the video call in a controlled environment.

"The absolute last thing you need in the middle of your interview is to have your kids arguing over the remote or sirens going off in the background, or your dog barking at the [delivery] guy. If you have a home office, that's probably perfect. If you don't, ship the family off [to different room] for a little while, and set up at your dining room table, or a quiet and well-lit corner of your house."

Additionally, if you find the time to stage a backdrop, Jenny advises that you "take a close look at what's going on back there. Make sure everything looks organized and tidy and avoid anything that could be polarizing like your antique gun collection or your shelf full of scary-faced porcelain clowns. You want to make sure that the background doesn't say something about you that may not work to your advantage. And it could be a subtle thing."

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8. Figure out the lighting and your placement within the frame.

Jenny has a handful of quick reminders to perfect your lighting. She says, "Your easiest source of lighting is natural light coming in through a window. Next, make sure you're a couple of feet from the wall behind you to give it some depth. If you're right up against it, it may look strange and you might have a big shadow around you. Also, turn off the overhead light. It can make you look really harsh on camera. And, last, put a regular old desk or table lamp on the floor behind you to give you a bit of backlight."

But it's not just the lighting that needs your attention. Jenny reminds us to "get your audio and camera settings situated well before the interview." Otherwise, "you're going to be awfully rattled or embarrassed if you join the interview and realize your audio isn't working, or your webcam isn't turned on," she says. "And in terms of the camera angle, it's better to position it from slightly above than below you. If you put it too low, which is super common among people who use their mobile devices for an interview, the interviewer is going to feel like they're looking up your nose."

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9. Do a test run and practice.

If you've gotten everything above down and ready, the next step is to practice. Log on the platform you'll be using, and "recruit a friend or a family member to be your interviewer. Conduct the practice interview and then ask your interviewer for candid feedback on your content, tone, outfit, lighting and background."

Jenny says, you also need to pay attention to your body language and othe mannerisms. "First, work on keeping yourself at least somewhat still through the interview. I'm a monumental hand talker so I get it that you might feel stifled if you don't move at all but you want to find that balance between frozen stick person and wild fidgeter while you're on camera."

You also need to know where to look which is "into the eye of the webcam, not at the middle of the screen," Jenny emphasizes. "As awkward as this might seem, the interviewer will feel like you're looking her in the eye if you're looking right into the webcam. You'll appear like you're looking down otherwise. I do a lot of Skype consults with my own clients and here's my trick. I put a tiny little sticky note with a smiley face near my camera so I'm reminded of where to look."

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10. On the day of the interview, make sure you're well-prepared and on time.

"If you need to download software, make sure you get it done well before your actual interview. It may take you longer than you anticipate and you definitely don't want to be late. Get logged in and make sure you know how to navigate the platform."