How to make a great first impression in a video interview

How to make a great first impression in a video interview

Tips and tricks to nail your video interview 

15 October 2021

Congratulations! You’ve been invited to attend a job interview. But, hang on, it’s on Zoom. *Audible sigh*.

The traditional interview stressors including finding somewhere to park and locating the right building entrance, but these worries have been replaced with filling awkward video call silences and the fear of poor Wi-Fi connection.

Don’t panic; we come armed with tips and tricks to nail that first video interview impression.



Get fully dressed

Are we really telling you to get dressed? Yes! Hands up, how many of you slipped into those joggers every day you worked from your bedroom/dining room/kitchen worktop? Delete as applicable.

We can all agree that it’s comfortable and convenient working in your loungewear, but your frame of mind is vital when it comes to making a great first impression on your video interview, and that means getting dressed.

Dressing in a suit can make you feel more powerful, according to a study entitled “The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing”. So, although it’s tempting to throw a shirt on over your PJ bottoms, you need to get dressed from head to toe in your formal wear.

Treat your video interview just like a regular interview; wear that suit tie, wash and style your hair — whatever you’d usually do and wear for an interview, make that effort. Your focused mindset will thank you for it — and interviewers like to see you’re taking this interview seriously.


Test your equipment, don’t leave it to the last minute

There’s nothing worse than rocking up to an interview seemingly ill-equipped. Assuming you want the job, you need to do the homework.

Being prepared reduces anxiety; according to Aspinwall & Taylor, it’s a process called ‘proactive coping’. It’s the “process of anticipating potential stressors and acting in advance either to prevent them or to mute their impact.”

You already know how to prepare for an interview — from conducting company research to memorising the job description — you’re ready to go.

But wait, there’s an extra layer of stuff you need to prepare for when it comes to video interviews. You need to test equipment, set up lighting, and find a quiet space in your house. If you don’t do all this and your sound doesn’t work, or you can’t figure out how to get into the meeting, you’re not likely to leave the best first impression.

Use all the time you’ve saved not commuting to prep yourself.

Here are some things to think about before your interview:

  • Check how to use the video call software they’re using for the interview (for example, Microsoft Teams and Zoom are pretty different)
  • Find a spot by a window; natural light means they can see your face clearly
  • Consider using your mobile hotspot as a backup if your Wi-Fi connection is temperamental
  • Think about doing a dummy run with a friend to check all your equipment works


Build rapport with your interviewer

Small talk can be awkward; in fact, it nearly always is. But small talk in an interview can be a great way for the interviewer to determine whether you’re a good fit for the role (and an opportunity to see if you want to work with them, too).

How do you go about building rapport? Ask questions relating to the role, or try and find common ground with the interviewer, but steer clear of cliched questions about the weather. These questions are bland and land a little flat — you want them to remember you.

Throughout the interview, you need to make eye contact and smile. To make eye contact on a video, you’d have to be looking straight down the camera lens, which is unnatural and will mean you can’t react to their facial expressions — because you’re looking down the lens and not at their face!

Resize the window of your call and place it closer to the top of your screen where your webcam is. This way, you’ll look as though you’re making direct eye contact, all while being able to play off their facial expressions.

Non-verbal cues are crucial in making that great first impression, but according to psychologist Dr. David Masumoto “people actually refrain from non-verbal cues in video presentations because they can see themselves on-camera and thus are more reserved and less animated.”

You can counteract this by minimising your screen to show only the interviewer’s face. This way, you’re not focusing on your own movements. Instead, you’re completely focused on the interviewer.

Remember: smile, make eye contact, and look for that common ground and you’ll be fine.

All prepped and ready to go? Good luck, you’ve got this.



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