Prepare for a video interview

If you’re actively searching for a new IT job, you’ll probably be asked to participate in a video interview at some point.

IT job interviews conducted through apps like Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams are now far more commonplace than many job seekers realise.

And while video interviews have become increasingly mainstream, if you’re not used to them, it can be easy to go into the process feeling a little awkward.

Therefore, it’s vital to do a little extra preparation beyond the standard in-person interview best practice you might be familiar with.

To give you a hand, here are our top 11 IT job interview tips for video calls.

1. Prepare the environment ahead of time
2. Create a professional user account for the call
3. Consider using a virtual background
4. Do a test run of your setup
5. Practise looking into the webcam
6. Keep your notes out of sight
7. Join the call a few minutes early
8. Dress like it’s a physical interview
9. Communicate confidently through the webcam
10. Keep a cool head throughout
11. Follow up afterwards

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1. Prepare the environment ahead of time

Since it’s quite common for tech roles to have flexible working arrangements, conducting your interview in your home office is the logical choice. Apart from being the most professional setting, it demonstrates to the hiring manager you have a functional work from home setup.

If you don’t have a home office, then your bedroom, kitchen or dining room could be appropriate settings. Whatever environment you choose, you need to make sure that the background is uncluttered and free of any distractions (after all, you want the interviewer’s attention to be solely focused on you). If you have children, pets or housemates that could create an unintended distraction, it’s best to go to a room where you can close the door and isolate yourself. Of course, let other people you live with know when you are having your video interview so they can steer clear or coordinate so that children and pets aren’t in a position to interfere.

Ideally, you’d use a PC with a webcam for the interview, but if you need to use a phone or tablet, then make sure you have a sturdy stand or a stable surface to lay it against. You shouldn’t attempt to do the interview while holding a device, as you are guaranteed to unintentionally shake the camera, which can be very distracting.

Also, think about the lighting in your interview space and ensure the environment is bright enough for the interviewer to see you clearly. Having a bright light directly behind or in front of you can make it difficult for you and the interviewer to see one another, so avoid this in your preparation.

2. Create a professional user account for the video call

Regardless of what application you use for the video interview, make sure you create a professional user account using your full name and a clear, professional photo of yourself. This may seem like an inconsequential detail, but first impressions matter and using an unprofessional username or profile image can undermine your application from the get-go.

3. Consider using a virtual background for your webcam

If you’re worried the background in your webcam isn’t up to scratch, you can always blur or replace it with a custom image. Popular video call applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams make it easy to replace your background with a virtual image or obscure it completely.

4. Do a test run of your setup

One of the most critical IT video interview tips we can share is that you make sure all your tech is working ahead of time. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your setup will work flawlessly without testing it first. Do some practice calls with friends or family to ensure that your audio quality, picture quality, and internet connection are within acceptable parameters. Failing to test for and fix any issues with your equipment before the interview would be a bad look when applying for any job, but even more so for jobs in the tech sector where you’d be expected to know better.

While testing your setup, this is also an excellent time to evaluate how you look and sound answering interview questions remotely. Try recording yourself as you go through some practice questions and see how your body language and intonation translate through a webcam. If possible, get feedback from the friend or family member you’re doing your practice calls with.

5. Practise looking into the webcam

It’s a good idea to practise maintaining eye contact with the actual webcam during video calls. During the interview, you need to show that 100% of your attention is on the interviewer and that you’re not being distracted by your own image in the corner of the screen. Also, don’t forget to practise smiling at the camera to help you build rapport with your interviewer.

6. Keep your notes out of sight

One advantage of video interviews is that you can look at handy notes you’ve left out of the shot to help you answer questions. Of course, these notes should be limited to small prompts in case you get stuck on a question. If it’s obvious you’re reading something off-screen, it gives the impression you’re not very well prepared for the interview.

7. Join the call a few minutes early

Just like you would with a traditional in-person interview, make sure you’re fully prepared at least 10 minutes before it is scheduled to begin. As mentioned, someone hiring for a tech role is probably conducting a lot of interviews, and you don’t want to waste any of their time. Join the call one or two minutes early, so you’re already there when the interviewer arrives.

8. Dress like it’s a physical interview

Wondering what to wear to an IT job interview over video call? Easy - dress how you would if it was an in-person interview. Dressing professionally isn’t just appropriate; it will enhance your confidence and put you in the mindset for a formal discussion.

9. Communicate confidently through the webcam

Projecting confidence is essential in any interview, but it’s even more essential during one that takes place remotely. It’s much harder for an interviewer to interpret your body language over a video call, so make sure that you actively listen and engage by asking them questions and communicating confidently.

10. Keep a cool head throughout

Many things could go wrong during a video interview, and your interviewer understands that (they’ve likely seen their fair share of mishaps). If your connection drops or some other disruption occurs that’s out of your control, don’t panic. This is your chance to show how you react to unexpected situations and stay calm under pressure.

To avoid the common issue of a hiccup in your Wi-Fi connection derailing your interview, have a backup in place (such as using your smartphone as a hotspot).

11. Follow up afterwards

Once the video interview wraps up, send a follow-up email to the interviewer to say you enjoyed speaking to them and learning about the role. Don’t forget to mention that you’re looking forward to hearing back from them.
There you have it, our top 11 IT video interview tips. While they may not be ideal for everyone, video interviews are an unavoidable reality of the modern job-hunting process (especially for tech roles) - so you might as well get good at them!

Looking for more IT job-hunting assistance? Discover more of our IT interview tips and advice or contact your local Hays office to get in touch with a dedicated recruitment consultant.