Video Conferencing : Top-6 Online Interview Dos & Don’ts

by Mark Ellwood

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Now that nearly all of us are working from home, there has been an unprecedented uptake of online collaboration tools and remote working technologies. Indeed, as governments, schools and businesses have scrambled to implement virtual continuity plans, workplace software companies (such as Zoom, Microsoft, and Google) have started offering their premium software for free and invested in more resources to cope with the expected demands. Microsoft Teams, for example, now has more than 44 million daily users, an increase of 12 million in just the last seven days.


At Ellwood Consulting, the ‘new normal’ of movement control and social distancing means that all our interviews and being conducted online, as are the interviews between clients and candidates.


As this will be a novel experience for many, here is our handy guide to the top-6 dos and don’ts of video interviews:



  1. Preparation


DO: Treat this the same as a normal interview. Prepare just as you would for a normal face to face meeting – doing your research, getting your notes in order in front of you and keeping your CV handy for reference. Have a list of questions you want to ask about the firm and/or culture.

DON’T: Assume that because you are home this will be a more casual chat.


  1. Get your tech ready


DO: Try everything out well before your allotted interview time. Check the weblink if you’ve been sent one, make sure the internet connection is working well. Get used to the software if you’ve not used it before and download anything extra you may need that you don’t already have. Consider wearing a headset if it improves sound/microphone quality or cuts out background noise. Get your set up just right, including sound/picture on the computer via the camera, and the overall presentation;  tone of voice, how loud you need to speak, etc. – check the levels.

DON’T: Be late due to technical difficulties or go into the interview with a bunch of settings that make it hard for the interviewer to see, hear or understand you.


  1. Dress up, light up


DO: Dress as you would for a normal interview. Smart or smart casual as per the requirements for the position. Also prepare your background – move to somewhere with a neutral background and good lighting, such as a well-lit plain coloured wall, or a window with indirect sunlight. Ensure your face is well lit. Reduce distractions for the interviewer.

DON’T: Have the sun behind you, your magazine and comics collection behind you, your underwear on a washing line, or some questionable crazy wallpaper as a background while you sit in your gym clothes or pyjamas.


  1. Practice makes perfect


DO: Practice to camera – in this case your webcam – as this allows you get your tone and volume of speech right, check your posture and how everything you do and say comes across on camera.

DON’T: Assume that what you are doing immediately translates digitally. Check everything out first to be sure.



  1. Don’t be disturbed


DO: Conduct the interview in an area or at a time when you won’t be disturbed by the kids, pets or anybody else. If this simply isn’t possible under the current circumstances, do warn your interviewer in advance that your kids/partner may disrupt the interview. Usually this is not advised and is generally best avoided, but during the current circumstances, interviewers must accommodate what is possible.

DON’T: Conduct the interview at a time when you know your hands will be full with the kids or things that need to be done at home.



  1. Exaggerate yourself (slightly), video etiquette


DO: Raise your motivation levels. Now you are on camera, the nuances common to face to face interactions don’t come across clearly. You now must behave more like an actor, slightly exaggerating your emotion and responses to come across clearly on video. Also pace your timing. Remember there may be a delay on the connection, especially if the interview is international, so take that into account. Speak clearly and give the other person time to respond.  Remember Look at the person on screen - try to make eye contact.

DON’T: Go over the top with the exaggeration though – again, another good reason to record yourself practicing. And don’t talk too quickly, talk over the other person and don’t gaze at yourself in the corner of the screen.



Final Notes


Some final tips from us include using a computer rather than a mobile phone – as this gives you hands free movement and makes sure you get set up comfortably without shaky-cam effects, and if your mobile connection is better (or more consistent) than your internet, consider using wireless tethering (hotspot enabling etc) to connect the computer via the mobile connection.


We hope you find these tips useful and we send best wishes to all our readers as we adapt to the circumstances over the days ahead. Stay safe and well everyone, from all of us at the Ellwood Consulting team.