Video Interview:

Video Interview

Two Things To Consider In Video Interview Preparation

With companies being more cost-conscious, and our culture’s growing reliance on and utilization of technology, it is no surprise that more and more companies are embracing the video interview methodology.

While this interview approach is a great way for Hiring Managers to “size up” a potential team member, it does pose another problem for the candidate. The video interview makes it more difficult to build an effective rapport during the interview cycle. So, when it comes to preparation, there are two areas to consider when it comes to really nailing your video interview. 

Don’t make a poor first impression. 

We were representing a Senior CRA for a position with one of our partner CROs. I really liked this candidate. He was super smart and I felt he would do a terrific job for this CRO. When I prepared him for his upcoming video interview, I noticed the sunlight coming from a window in his room was casting a very dark shadow on his face.  When I mentioned it to him, he told me that he would take the interview from his office and that light wouldn’t be an issue.  

We finished our prep session and I thought he was all set. However, the next day the hiring manager called me…and she was laughing hysterically. This senior-level CRA who had undoubtedly interviewed dozens of times, had a piece of artwork hanging behind him that said:

“It is time to get drunk, get naked, and dance on the table”.  


And while the hiring manager thought the art was funny, she didn’t move forward with him as a candidate. Why? Because she was concerned about his judgment (or lack thereof). At a minimum, he hadn’t assessed his environment before the interview. Or worse yet, he had assessed his environment and thought it was okay for that piece of artwork to be front and center during an interview. Or a video meeting with a site…or a key opinion leader. 

Always assess the basics. 

It is important to note that interview methodologies and expectations are continually changing. So don’t assume you know the ‘basics’ because even senior-level candidates flunk some of these. 

Know your audience

We have recently been recruiting several senior-level CRA positions and have been amazed at the confusion many of the candidates have had when it comes to this topic. You should first know who you are speaking with (we covered why this is important in a recent post). But you should also know your interviewers’ roles. 

Our team just recorded a podcast that provides tips on how preparing for an interview with HR is much different than one with a Clinical Operations Manager. Know your audience, be mindful of what you feel they care about based on their role, and then tailor your questions and answers as appropriate. 

Record yourself during a mock interview

Consider conducting a mock video interview with a friend. You will find it very helpful to record your practice interview session. I have recorded myself many (many) times before speaking to an audience and reviewing those recordings has been extremely helpful. This exercise has helped me improve the rhythm of my language, remediate weird ticks, and adjust my facial expressions and body movements.

A mock interview will also help you practice answering behavioral questions without leaning on the ‘um’ and ‘uh’ twins as support.  

Show yourself as tidy and professional

Make sure your workspace is ready to be on camera. You can run a test using GoogleMeet, Zoom, or Teams…you don’t even have to be on a call with anyone else.  

You will want to assess everything you can see through the video. Is it free from clutter? What type of artwork is behind you? If you have a bookshelf in view, is it neat and orderly? If you have a whiteboard or corkboard in view, are the notes organized and appropriate?  Keep in mind that you are not only assessing how tidy your environment is, but you want to remove anything that may distract your interviewer or divert attention from you (like a piece of artwork that advises it is time to get drunk, get naked, and dance on the table).

Dress as if you are going to a face-to-face interview. Just because you aren’t going to the office doesn’t mean you can wear your pajamas. You will feel more confident and your interviewer will take notice of how ‘buttoned up’ you are. 

Secure your environment

Put your dogs and/or cats into another room, put the baby to sleep (or better yet, have childcare arranged so there are no unexpected interruptions), unplug the phone, and put a sign up on your office door so your loved ones are clear they should not make noise while you are on your video interview.

You are also going to want to test your connectivity and hardware at least one hour before the interview. And while verifying that your camera and microphone are working, be mindful of your microphone’s position. Microphones naturally amplify sound, and rustling papers or speaking too closely can make it hard for the interviewer to understand what you are saying. 

Do focus on building a rapport with your interviewers.

The main objective of every interview should be to build a connection with your interviewer.  Of course, you are going to speak about your qualifications, but rapport and relationship are most important.  

The above basic tips will help you be a proficient interviewer. And the first impression that the hiring manager gleans from you being ‘buttoned up’ during the interview is important. But now let’s discuss how you go one step further to establish a bond with that hiring manager.


Because hiring managers hire people they like…even when they are less qualified than the other candidates in the pool. 

Eye contact can be tricky in video interviews… 

…but it is important. There has been a tremendous amount of research surrounding how making eye contact can improve existing relationships, but it is also extremely effective in building a bond with someone new.  

When I am having a conversation with someone who doesn’t make eye contact with me, I question their honesty.  Yep, I feel they are up to something. Making eye contact also helps improve communication because it enables active listening. It also shows the other person that you respect them and what they are saying.  

But making eye contact in video interviews is quite tricky because you are inclined to look at the other person’s image while she speaks. And of course, when you are trying to pick up on her queues, looking at her image is terrific. But remember that the mission is for her to feel connected with you, so she must have a perception that you are making eye contact with her. 

Which means you shouldn’t be looking at her video image. You should be staring into the camera. And if that makes you feel uncomfortable, position her image close to your camera so she feels like you are looking at her. Several years ago, Science Direct conducted research that proved gazing directly into the camera fostered stronger recall by your audience. And don’t you want your future manager to remember your interview? 

What color are your eyes? 

Here are some general rules when it comes to positioning yourself for the camera: 

Be close…but not too close

You should not be close enough for the interviewer to see the color of your eyes. Ideally, you should be about two feet away from the camera but you should note that working from a laptop camera will yield different results than from a phone or tablet at the same distance. The key is that you want to ensure a tight view of your head, shoulders, and chest – similar to how you see TV news broadcasters when they are pitching a story.

Be careful of the camera’s angle

You also want to position your device so that the camera is just above eye level. The camera’s angle is important because you want the hiring manager to have a direct ‘face-to-face’ view of you. This may mean that you have to prop up your device, but be careful. You want to make sure your device is stable and won’t be bumped during the session.  

Let there be light

Assess the light in the interview space a day or so before your interview. Testing the lighting ahead of time is important because you want to sit in your interview space with your video on during the exact same time as your upcoming interview.

Doing this will enable you to see how the light is casting on your face so that you can make adjustments. In a perfect world, having a window in front of you (or a lamp will do in a pinch) is best. Avoid backlighting as it will cause your face to go dark. Plenty of natural light will improve the quality of the video but too much light or a poorly positioned light source may cast a shadow. And you should avoid shadows on your face at all costs. Not only will the interviewer miss important facial queues, but shadows can cause the interviewer to unconsciously mistrust you. 

Testing 1-2-3

Make sure your sound works. You can test the video by yourself, but you need to conduct a dry run with a friend (or recruiter) to test your speakers. Headsets are great if they are wired, but I would recommend you steer clear of Bluetooth or other wireless types of headsets. They are just another failure point to be concerned with.

I want to make a very important note here. If you have recently used your camera or speakers with a different software, make sure you test everything again. We use Microsoft Teams, but when someone sends a Zoom invite to me, I always struggle with my headset and have to reset it every time.  

Write “Slow Down” on sticky notes…

…and put them everywhere you may look during the interview. We just covered this topic in a recent phone interview tips article so I won’t go into too much detail here. But the net is that you will talk fast if you aren’t consciously aware of slowing down.


Because even if you are a seasoned interviewer, you will be nervous, and being nervous causes you to speak quickly. And hopefully, you will be discussing topics that are passionate to you. Guess what? Being passionate about your topic also causes you to speak quickly. Enunciating your words and speaking slowly will ensure that the interviewer understands what you are saying.

Have questions? Have stories? 

We love stories. Tell us about your silly video interview experiences! And if you need help, contact us