If you’re reading this, you probably have an interview in a couple of hours.
Firstly, congrats on clinching the interview!
Second, this guide will properly set you up for the video interview.
The Interview Prep Begins From The Previous Day
It kinda sounds strange.
But the interview begins from the moment you get the interview email.
And the day before an interview can make a significant difference on how well you do the next day.
Check and be mindful of these details generally mentioned in the interview email.
Review Information About The Interview And The Role
Most of the interview information you need to know will be provided in the email itself:
- Date, time, and time zone
- Video conferencing platform for the interview
- Interview format and structure, sometimes including the types of assessments to be conducted
- Details about technical requirements, such as a stable internet connection, microphone, or camera setup
- Preparation materials like attachments or links to company information, values, job description, sample interview questions, etc.
Sleep Is Your Best Friend
Any experienced professional knows how important a good night's sleep is for work performance.
And an interview is a high-performance moment in one's career. You have to be attentive, creative, responsive, and persuasive.
You need your brain on overdrive.
And research shows that your cognitive functioning is directly related to your sleep quality.
If the interview is scheduled in the morning, go to bed early to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
A good bedtime routine can help you fall asleep sooner.
Get Your Clothes In Line
How one dresses in an interview is important in most cases.
Intentionally or unintentionally, one's clothing makes a statement on the interviewer's mind.
In a way, it's a representation of your personality.
So, ensure your clothes are clean and uncreased.
And keep it in an easily accessible place so that it's one less thing to worry about before the interview.
Select Your Interview Location
You don't have much to worry about if you already have a well-set-up remote workstation.
But if you don't, consider isolating a place at home to take the interview undisturbed.
Block a room for yourself where people will not barge in during the interview.
You want a cool, calm, quiet environment to help you concentrate better.
Check Calendar Settings
Even after you've taken all the steps, life has a way of throwing stuff at you.
The next thing you know, when you're supposed to convince the interviewer why they should hire you, you're busy talking to the grocery person about low-fat milk.
To guarantee you remember the meeting, save it as a calendar event on Google Calendar to get automatic reminders on time.
You can even manually set the alarm on your phone 30 minutes before the interview.
On The Day Of The Interview
Now comes the main prep.
You want everything aligned with the need of the hour: having a great interview.
Go In With The Right Mentality
When you go to an interview with a positive attitude, it becomes a whole different experience.
Interviews shouldn't feel like scary grilling sessions.
They're like formal conversations where both sides try to see if they fit well together.
If you feel nervous, remember that the interviewer might be anxious, too.
They must find the right person for the job quickly.
So, just be yourself and talk about your skills and experiences calmly and honestly, as if you were talking to a colleague.
You Already Have The Perfect Environment
Interviewing from the comfort of your home has its advantages.
Psychologically, you know that you are in a safe space.
Compared to office interviews, you aren't expected to go to an unknown location, in front of who knows how many people, and prove yourself for the role.
You control your environment in a virtual interview.
Choose a place where you're comfortable physically, and it's easier to concentrate.
If that place is your room’s balcony, home rooftop, or a gazebo in the garden, so be it.
Inform your family members and the people you're staying with about the interview to avoid unnecessary disturbances.
And make sure the place where you have the interview has good light and fresh air.
Minor Technical Checks You Can’t Avoid
Certain technical aspects of a virtual interview can become a nuisance if left to chance.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Make sure your internet is reliable and stable
- Have a back-up internet connection at standby, in case you need to switch connections during the call
- Install the mentioned video conferencing software, such as Zoom or Skype, to join the interview on time
- Test your microphone and camera with a test call to ensure they are working correctly
Be Mindful Of Your Background
In a video interview, you invite the other person into your home through your background.
You must keep this space primed to be visually appealing.
- Ensure that the area behind you is neat by removing unnecessary items to create a professional and focused impression
- Opt for a solid-colored wall, a simple backdrop, or a neatly arranged bookshelf to minimize distractions and keep the focus on your conversation
- You can keep indoor plant(s) to create a pleasant atmosphere
If you cannot arrange your surroundings, consider using a virtual background if your video conferencing software supports it, ensuring it's professional and appropriate for the interview.
Get Proper Lighting
A person sitting in a poorly lit room during a virtual video meeting, barely visible, automatically gives off a negative impression.
As though they are trying to hide or are embarrassed by something.
Here are a couple of points you can consider:
- Select a place with plenty of natural light. It's soothing, free, and makes one look natural
- Avoid positioning a light source directly behind you. The glare can be distracting and highly unpleasant for the interviewer
- You may place an extra light source in front of you or to the side, at a 45-degree angle, to have even lighting
- If you have only one light source, avoid placing it directly above you. It will create hard shadows on your face and may make you look villainy
How To Dress For The Interview
People fret over this the most and for a good reason.
A virtual interview does not make the process any less professional.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind while deciding what to wear:
- Dress in professional attire, much like you would in an office setting. It'd indicate that you know location doesn't matter as much as professionalism at work
- Choose single-colored shirts or tops—nothing too bright or with the lyrics of your favorite rap song written in big fonts. You want the interviewer’s focus on the conversation
- Check if anything you're wearing is causing a glare on the camera, like reflection off your spectacles or wristwatch
It’s important to be you.
But be you in a professional manner.
Strike a balance that you feel comfortable with.
Gotta Do A Little Facial Grooming
Here's the thing: there's no definite formula for proper grooming.
People get accustomed to seeing people of a specific industry in a certain way.
For instance, you wouldn't expect your bank's manager to have a violet, Liberty spikes hairstyle.
Here are some tips for getting a generic professional look that would work in every industry:
- Irrespective of the hairstyle, you want to achieve a neat and tidy look
- Wash your face to look clean, and apply a moisturizer if you live in a cold, dry region
- Facial hair styling is cool, but ensure it's well-groomed and trimmed evenly
- Avoid extreme hairstyles with bright colors
- Don’t forget to comb or do your hair before the interview
- Keep hair from covering parts of your face
- Keep your eyebrows trimmed and adequately groomed so they don't look unkempt
- Avoid colorful facial jewelry like lips, eyebrows, and nose piercings
These tips are just guideposts to get you started.
Research the best grooming practices in your industry and make a conscious decision on how you want to present yourself.
The Perfect Screen Presence
Your screen presence is more important than you think.
How you frame yourself on the screen is akin to your body language in a physical job interview setting. Always a tricky business.
Even though you might be paying attention to the conversation, lousy body language might suggest otherwise in the interviewer's mind.
- Keep your head at the center of the screen horizontally, leaving equal space to your left and right
- Vertically you can keep a little bit of headspace
- Keep one-hand distance from the screen so that you’re not too near or far from it
- Keep the camera at eye level so you're not looking down or up at the interviewer. Looking down creates an authoritative effect. And looking up makes you look unconfident.
If you frame yourself correctly, it will convey a sense of presence and equality.
Don't Compromise On Comfortable Furniture
Good furniture is indispensable in remote work.
That's why Axelerant invests up to INR 30,000 or USD 400 on home office setup for team members.
Poor furniture can cause significant discomfort during the interview.
And it’s tough to keep sitting in place without proper ergonomic furniture.
The interview may go on for over an hour if all goes well.
Be mindful of the table and the chair you take the interview in.
You don't want to betray signs of discomfort in the middle of the conversation, which will not reflect positively on you.
A Quick Devices Check
Many things can go sideways at the last moment.
And electronic devices have a way of acting up at the last moment.
Here's what you can do to stay on the safe side:
- Keep the device on which you will take the interview fully charged
- It's always a good idea to keep a backup device— like an iPad or your phone—linked with the interview platform (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype) and loaded with full battery charge
- Keep your wireless headphones fully charged and keep one with a wire nearby as backup
- Mute all notifications minutes before the interview begins. You don't want a dog reel notification on the screen while trying to concentrate on an interview question
And Keep A Notepad Nearby!
We often forget that interviews are two-way conversations.
Probing questions about the role and the company is generally considered a good sign.
But if you are anything like me, you might forget to ask the most pertinent questions during the conversation.
So consider keeping a notepad by the side with the following information scribbled down:
- Important questions about the role and the company
- The interviewer’s information, especially their phone number, email address, or LinkedIn account details. Should there be any network issues, you can quickly establish communication
Immediate communication will bring clarity and not leave anyone hanging in the dark.
Plus, you gain points for proactivity.
Nervous For The Interview?
You may find yourself a bundle of nerves.
Just do what all successful athletes do—practice.
Get hold of a friend and do the whole shebang once or twice with them.
And if you can't find anyone, record yourself in front of the computer using the built-in camera.
Here are some aspects you can focus on discussing:
- Probable job-related questions
- Introducing yourself in a meaningful way
- Discussing your professional experience with emphasis on challenges and lessons
- Explaining why you would be a good fit for the role
- Why you want the job
- Company benefits for team members
- Working hours and conditions
- Are people required to work during the weekends
- What would success mean in the role in the first year
- What kind of impact would your work have on the company and the society
- What steps does the company take to maintain their culture
Be creative and note down the questions that matter to you about the job.
You Got This!
It’s okay to be a little jittery about video interviews.
The goal here is to have a formal, open discussion on how well you and the organization complement each other.
You and the interviewer will help each other figure out just that.
So, chill out. And do your best to be you.
Here are some helpful interview tips, especially if you’re interviewing at Axelerant.
Rohit Ganguly, Content Marketer
Rohit is a content marketer first and a YouTuber second. He loves to interact with animals, feed them, clean his apartment, and spend time with friends and family. Curious by nature, he also enjoys literature, movies, meditation, and calligraphy.