How to Succeed in a Video Interview

The COVID-19 global pandemic has changed the job-search process for everyone, from new college graduates to seasoned professionals. Now, and most likely in the future, interviews are being conducted through video platforms like Zoom, Skype, WebEx, MS Teams and FaceTime. What do you need to know?


Make sure you know which platform the employer will use for the interview and that you have installed it correctly on your computer. Test audio and video with a friend to ensure it is working properly. Ideally, test the equipment several days before the interview so you have time to seek expert help if necessary.

The area you select as a backdrop for the interview should be clean and quiet, have good lighting and a solid internet connection. Ensure that you can minimize distractions by letting any family or roommates know you are interviewing. Consider locking pets out of the room or having someone monitor them off-site.

Dress up from head-to-toe, not just from the waist up. Your face and hair will receive even more attention, so make sure they can withstand a close-up view.

Do it digitally! Although you cannot physically shake the interviewer’s hand, first impressions can make a difference. Greet the interviewer with a confident smile, a professional greeting (not “Hey”) and a head nod with a slight lean toward the camera. This shows the interviewer that you are confident and ready to engage. Just like an in-person handshake, this nod starts the interview in a positive way.

This is not a phone interview, so the interviewer will be paying attention to body language. Maintain good body language by:

  • Sitting up straight.
  • Looking at the camera, not the screen, to maintain eye contact. Adjust the height of your chair or surface if necessary.
  • Leaning toward the camera slightly when you speak to show interest.
  • Do not fidget! You don’t want the employer to think you are bored, easily distracted or overly nervous. Avoid rocking or swiveling when using an adjustable chair.
  • Make use of slight hand gestures and movements while speaking, but be mindful of what is nearby. You don’t want an enthusiastic answer to result in the computer crashing to the floor!

As always, prepare for the interview by conducting company/industry research and by having examples to demonstrate your fitness for the job. Follow up on all interviews, virtual and in person, with a thank-you note to each person who interviewed you. Especially now, it is important to be extremely gracious to the employers who are taking time out of their schedules to conduct interviews!

All tips courtesy of Donna Robertson, University director of career development.