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No pyjama bottoms: Top tips for video interviews

From technology to your outfit, here’s what you need to know

Make sure your background is neat and tidy for video interviews. Photograph: iStock

Make sure your background is neat and tidy for video interviews. Photograph: iStock


More than 80 per cent of employers have switched to remote video interviews according to recent data from Cpl recruitment agency. Interviews are conducted via digital platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Even though potential employees might not be used to them, online interviews are probably less daunting than those carried out in person. There is no travel involved and they can be done from the comfort of your own home. Here are some top tips to prepare for a video interview.

1 It’s really important to ask the person organising the interview what software platform will be used so you can download it in advance if you don’t already use it. Once you have downloaded it, do a test run with a friend so you know how it works.

2 Most laptops have a built-in webcam but if you are using a desktop computer you might need to borrow or buy a webcam. It’s important that the interviewer can see and hear you properly so test it to make sure. Position the camera slightly downward for the most flattering angle. Make sure the lighting is right; don’t overexpose your face but don’t sit in darkness either. You should look natural. Placing a lamp behind your computer usually provides a flattering light. If the audio is insufficient you may need to use a headset.

3 Make sure your background is neat and tidy. Many people position their laptop with a bookshelf as a backdrop but a neutral background is probably best. You can also blur or add a background with most software, just make sure it’s appropriate for a formal interview.

4 You don’t want to be in full flow, making a fantastic point or giving the best answer of the interview when the internet connection fails. Sometimes these things happen but it’s best to do a test run to make sure the internet is fast. Also, make sure there is nothing else happening in the location that could interfere with your connection. Remember to close any unnecessary tabs that are open on your laptop.

5 Have your CV and notes to hand. If you have to do a presentation, make sure it’s open and you know how to work with the technology. Put your phone on silent and have a glass of water to hand.

6 If something goes wrong or you get interrupted, apologise and move along quickly. These things happen and the interviewer should understand.

7 When choosing an outfit, wear what you normally would to an in-person interview. Make sure you feel comfortable but empowered in the clothing; therefore, a smart top with pyjamas on the bottom is not a good idea. Also, if you need to move unexpectedly, that will not come across well. Try to avoid clothing designed with loud prints.

8 While online interviews tend to be quicker than in-person interviews, it’s important to ask your own questions to get a sense of the job and the company culture and it will also show your interest.

9 Body language, or non-verbal communication, is really important in video interviews. Make sure to maintain eye contact, smile and nod. It is sometimes easier to play with your hair or touch your face on a Zoom call so try to avoid that. Make sure to sit up tall and don’t hunch over the laptop. To achieve good eye contact, look into the camera instead of at the screen.

10 Once you have practiced and are comfortable with the technology, video interviews open up more opportunities and allow you to broaden your job search. Don’t be afraid of them and soon they’ll become second nature.