Should I Wear Pants to My Interview? Essential Tips for Home-Based Video Interviews

Video interviews are now the new normal and although not new in themselves, the lockdown restrictions mean they are now being undertaken much more frequently and from home.  

You’d be right in saying that an interview is still an interview whether it’s in person or via a video link and all the same principles of preparing for and undertaking the interview are the same. However, in this new virtual world many of us now find ourselves in for the first time, there are a few extra things to take into consideration when attending or conducting a video interview from your home.

11 May 2020

1.     Background – when appearing on video it’s important to think about the background behind you as this now makes up part of your personal presentation as much as your face and what you are wearing. It’s like another layer of clothing and creates an instant impression of you the moment the video stream goes live.  A cluttered or distracting background is going to take away from you as the central focus point so ensure you are sitting with your back to a plain light-coloured wall, in a well-lit room. Think of it like you are having your portrait photo taken and how the photographer would set you up. This may mean you need to re-arrange your furniture a little bit, but it will make a huge difference to how you come across in the interview.  And it goes without saying, do not have your interview outside.

2.     Quiet – the ambient noise around you is also part of your background and will affect your presentation. Ensure all tv’s, radio’s etc are turned off. If there is external noise you cannot avoid then close windows or move to a different area of the house where it is the quietest. If you have young children make sure they are entertained quietly elsewhere in the house from where you are conducting your interview. It doesn't look professional with them running around in the background or coming up and asking you questions. Furthermore, you will not be fully focused on your interview. If possible, ask whomever you are isolating with to take care of them. If you are on your own, then give them something to do which you know will completely absorb them such as their favourite movie with the volume down low or colouring book or tire them out beforehand, so they have a sleep. Try and arrange your interview time to fit with this and explain to your prospective employer why, they will understand in these difficult times.

3.     Tell family & friends – make sure that everyone in the house knows you are having an interview so they can make themselves scarce and don’t leave it to tell them 5 minutes before it starts. Letting friends and family who are not residing with you know when your interview is means that they will not try to ring through for a chat on your device at the same time.

4.     Device – If you have a desktop computer/laptop or an iPad/tablet then use this for the interview over using your phone.  Holding or balancing your phone is not as stable and will be a distraction if it’s moving around and you won’t be sharply focused on the interview. Also, ensure all other pages and apps are closed so the video call is the only thing that is running. 

5.     Position – you should be seated for your interview and not standing, just like in a face to face interview. Position yourself so you appear central in the screen view that the interviewers will see with your head and upper body in view so you can use your hands to gesture with when you are talking.  Have at least a foot of background above your head so you do not appear overbearing in the screen to the interviewers. 

6.     Test equipment & platforms – this may seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how much can go wrong. Firstly, ensure you have a good internet connection in the location you will be having your interview. Then secondly, download the video platform, if you don’t already have it, and practice using it with a friend. Make sure you know how to control the volume and turn on the video function, so you are just not on audio. Get confident speaking over it, run through some questions with your friend. Also, ask your friend to confirm if you are centrally placed on the screen and to check how the background and lighting looks.  At the end of the day technical glitches do happen but at least you can prepare as much as possible to overcome any.

7.     Distractions – We’ve been through a number of distractions in the above points but double-check that there are no others. For example, don’t book your Tesco’s delivery at the same time! Make sure your phone and other devices are turned off. Don’t put on a wash that will bleep when it finishes halfway through your interview.

8.     Dress – Finally, as you would for a face to face interview dress appropriately. Avoiding bright colours, other than as an accent, I think is always best when you are on screen. You should always dress a level smarter than you would be expected to wear when working and even though the interviewers are only seeing your upper body, you never know if the camera view may drop or if you may need to stand up at some point. So, yes, in answer to the question you should wear pants to your video interview! 

Good luck with your home-based video interview and if you have any questions or would like to discuss interview techniques, remote and flexible working or recruitment in general, please get in touch and we can arrange a video call!