Recent surveys say that upwards of 60% of employers use video interviews in their recruiting. If you haven’t yet participated in a video interview, it is likely that you will. How do you have a successful video interview? Practice. Preparation. Plan B.

Practice

Just like preparing for an in-person interview, you should rehearse for your video interview. Many things, such as practicing answering questions you think will be asked, and planning questions to ask are essentially the same. However, there are additional things to practice for a video interview.

For example, making eye contact. This is straight-forward in person, but people often gaze around while on camera. If you need to take a quick glance at your notes, do it quickly then get your eyes back to the camera.

Smiling is also a bit more challenging in a distance-based interview. Just as in person, you want to have a confident, natural smile, while not overdoing it. You will not have the advantage of processing all stimuli from the interviewer’s environment to queue you when to smile, how long to smile, etc. Engage in mock interviews with a friend or colleague. Relax, remember to smile, and get their feedback. While conducting the mock interview, it is a good time to move onto the next key to success – preparation.

Preparation

The importance of preparation, particularly in an interview for a tech position, cannot be overemphasized. Here are the four steps necessary to prepare for a successful video interview.

First, and most importantly, your equipment and software must be functioning properly, and you must know how to use them properly. Check, and doublecheck, your webcam, microphone, internet connection and communication platform. You should do this a few days before the interview, then perform a final check 30 – 45 minutes prior to the interview.

Next, select a quiet, private area for participating in the interview. It is important that there are no interruptions, and that you are able to speak up clearly, and freely. This isn’t a good time for the kids to run into the room, or for you to be in a room where you have to whisper.

Finally, make certain that you control the environment. Focus the camera at eye level, but add a bit of air around your face. This shouldn’t be a Hollywood close-up. Eliminate any clutter in the background. The background should be neat, tidy and professional without distracting elements. The focus should be on you, but you should be sitting in a professional environment. Also, remember to pay attention to the sound of your room. Select a setting with ample dampening surfaces to avoid sounding like you are in an echo chamber.

Plan B

The best-laid plans… We all know how that can end up. You’ve practiced and prepared, and something goes wrong. Perhaps the internet is down, or some other technical issue is creeping its head. This is not the time to panic, it is the time to go to Plan B. I can’t tell you what Plan B is for your specific situation. That depends on many factors. However, I can give you a real-life example of when I interviewed a candidate who got it wrong vs. one who got it right.

It was time to begin the interview with Candidate A. A few minutes passed, and I got a phone call from the candidate saying they had issues connecting. Almost immediately Candidate A became frustrated and repeatedly said that there is nothing they can do to get the platform to function. We went on to have an awkward, and abbreviated phone interview.

A few weeks later, I experienced a similar technical issue with Candidate B. Well, it started out similarly. However, when B called, they tried several quick maneuvers to resolve the connectivity issue. When that didn’t work, B was calm and told me that they had prepared a PDF file containing their portfolio. B suggested they email that to me, and we use that as a visual aid for a phone interview. Obviously, Candidate B progressed to the next phase in the recruiting process.