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Lights! Camera! Action! How to ace your video interview and get the job offer

Here's what hiring managers look for in video interviews
What hiring managers look for in video interviews

When it comes to interviewing for a job, it's a whole new world these days.

In-person meetings are gone, replaced by virtual ones.

"Due to the [coronavirus] pandemic, when things shifted overnight a few months ago, everyone shifted to Zoom or video chats or online interviews," said Vicki Salemi, a career expert with jobs site Monster.

"We don't see that changing for the foreseeable future."

While the country is reopening and businesses are starting to get back on their feet, Covid-19 cases are rising in more than 30 states. Texas, Florida, California and Washington are rolling back some of their states' reopening plans.

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All of this means you should sharpen your virtual interview skills, especially since the U.S. is in a recession.

"Acing your virtual interview has never been more important," said career expert Sarah Stoddard at Glassdoor.

"With recent job declines around the country, there are more people looking for jobs than ever."

The unemployment rate, which was just 3.5% in February, was 13.3% in May. June's job report will be released on Thursday.

Here are some tips to help you make a good impression and land the job.

Do your homework

Whether the interview is virtual or not, preparation is key. That means do your research on the company.

"You're going to look at the company's social media feeds, find out their values," Salemi said. "Google the people you're interviewing with."

Glassdoor also has reviews on the work environment from former and current employees.

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Additionally, be prepared to answer interview questions such as, "Why should I hire you?," "What is your biggest strength?" and "What is your biggest weakness?"

You'll also get a chance to ask questions, so have them ready in advance.

"You are interviewing them, too," Salemi said.

"Ask them questions about their current situation: Is everyone working from home? When are they going back into the office? What are the company's plans for the rest of the year?"

Dress the part

With the camera only seeing you from the waist up, you may want to be all business on top and comfy sweats on the bottom. That would be a mistake.

"Wear an interview suit with matching pants and not shorts," Salemi said.

"If the doorbell rings or if someone opens the door, you need to make sure you are looking pristine from head to toe."

Location, location, location

Delmaine Donson

Before you start the interview, make sure your setup is in the right place. Find a quiet spot in your home with no distractions and tell your family or roommates that you don't want to be interrupted.

Lighting is also important. You need to be seen, without shadows. Try not to sit in front of a window. You can also get special lighting, like a ring light, to set up behind the device.

Also, don't forget about what's behind you. Sit in front of something simple, neat and professional, like a wall or a bookcase.

Check your tech

Ensure that you have a strong internet signal so that you don't drop the call, as well as ample power for your device. Familiarize yourself with the video technology that will be used for the interview so that you can get comfortable with it in advance.

Also, set up the device, whether it is a laptop, tablet or smartphone, at the right height so that the lens is at eye level.


Write down potential interview questions and then practice those on a video call with a friend or family member.

Ask for feedback, so that when it is time for the interview, you have already responded to the questions a couple of times, Stoddard said.

Treat it like an in-office meeting

PhotoAlto/Eric Audras

When it comes time for the interview, treat it like you were going into the office. That means arriving early so that you are the first to join the call. That will also allow you to have some time to mentally prepare, said Salemi.

Try to block out and eliminate distractions. That includes putting your phone on airplane mode, if you aren't using it for the call.

"When you have a job interview in an office, your phone is off," Salemi said.

"You are 100% present, focused, in the moment and ready to ace it," she added. "Treat this with the same importance."

Acing your virtual interview has never been more important. With recent job declines around the country, there are more people looking for jobs than ever.
Sarah Stoddard
career expert at Glassdoor

While you can't hand over a physical copy of your resume, as you would in an in-office setting, try to get the email of your interviewer in advance and send them your resume and cover letter so that they have the materials in front of them during the interview, Stoddard suggested.

Watch your body language

What's lost in a virtual interview is the natural building of rapport that can happen in-person.

That's why it's really important to maintain eye contact the entire time, which means looking directly into the camera and not at the screen. It may be tough, but putting a sticky note with an arrow pointing to the camera lens can help, Salemi suggested.

"You can still build rapport with the interviewer," she said.

"Allow yourself to sit, pause, breathe, articulate your thoughts and speak while making eye contact."

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It's also not lost on the interviewer if your eyes are elsewhere.

"People can tell when you're looking around on your screen and around the room," added Stoddard.

"The more focused you can be in the interview and the more engaged you can be, the better."

Also, check the rest of your body language. That means sit up straight and not fidgeting.

Say thanks

As in any interview, virtual or not, it is always a good idea to follow up with a thank-you note.

"Take the initiative to send personalized thank you notes to the people that you interviewed with acknowledging that you appreciate that they took the time to speak with you," Stoddard said.

You should also mention something specific or unique about the conversation.

"They can tell when you cut and paste," she said.

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.