15 Worst Mistakes To Avoid in a Video Job Interview

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Maximize your chances of success with these video interview do's and don'ts.
Updated Oct. 24, 2023
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female hr reading cv during online virtual job interview by video call

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You’ve found the perfect job posting, one that can help you stop living paycheck to paycheck. Now, you are asked to participate in a video interview.

Before the big day, it’s crucial to polish your video interview skills to ensure you hit the mark. Whatever you do, don’t make the following common mistakes that might cost you the job.

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Not downloading and testing software beforehand

peshkova/Adobe bad news concept

If your interview is at 10 a.m., don’t log in at 9:58 and simply assume all is good. Make sure your computer doesn’t need a random update right at the interview time. Check that important software is working as it should.

Even if you’ve used the video software before, test it beforehand. In short, take responsibility for making sure everything is ready to go. Doing so will improve your odds of making a good impression and landing a job that can boost your bank account.

Not checking the strength of your internet connection

fizkes/Adobe doubtful businessman in tension

How strong is your internet connection? The hiring manager will likely get as annoyed with video streams slowing down or lagging as you would. Even if it’s not your fault, it impacts the manager’s impression of you.

Test the connection before the interview. Chat with a friend for a few minutes, for example. If there’s a concern, find a better location to connect.

Failing to make sure you're lighting is good

AungMyo/Adobe young girl feeling stressed from work

While you don’t need to set up a light studio as you would for a TikTok video, you certainly need to be sure there’s enough light throughout the space so the interviewer can actually see you.

Natural light is the best option when it’s coming in toward you, such as when sitting in front of a window. Be leery of a glare coming in from behind you, though. Use lamps to help light up the space otherwise.

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Not testing the sound quality

Yuliia/Adobe mature female in headset teaching online

As you test the connection for your system, check out how you sound. Your interviewer needs to be able to hear you well.

It also helps to speak clearly at a slow and steady pace. Since you’re not in person, it's harder for people to pick up on cues or hear the nuances that make language meaningful.

Before the interview, ensure your microphone works well, and you’ve practiced speaking clearly.

Lacking the right camera focus

bnenin/Adobe worried girl looking at laptop

The angle of your camera makes a big difference in how you come across to the interviewer. Position the camera properly so the interviewer isn’t staring at a close-up view of your eye or chin.

Instead, move the camera so your entire face can be seen in the shot. When possible, it should frame you from the shoulders up.

Sitting in a distracting environment

tirachard/Adobe asian couple managing finances

A messy room, a TV in the background, or a piled-high kitchen sink look unprofessional and are likely to distract the hiring manager.

Instead, treat the hiring manager as a guest you’re welcoming into a small part of your home. You want to impress them.

Make sure the background they can see looks professional, even if you have to sit in the corner of a bedroom. Tidy up the space.

Dressing inappropriately

ChayTee/Adobe pensive SME owner

While the T-shirt you slept in may look fine, it’s not going to show the interviewer that you care about this job.

Instead, dress as you would for an in-person interview. Shower and put on something nice. You’ll find that doing this also helps you to feel more confident as you begin this important conversation.

Being distracted within your environment

Syda Productions/Adobe stressed indian man with laptop computer calling on smartphone

Nothing is more annoying than chatting with someone on a video call who seems to be looking at something else in the room or is otherwise preoccupied.

The hiring manager needs to know you’re serious about the job, and that means giving them your full focus.

Letting the dogs, cats, or kids in the room

oes/Adobe girl distracts father from work

It may seem cute when a cat cuts across the screen during an interview or when a child announces the need to go potty while you’re discussing your skill as a project manager. But it is also another unnecessary and unprofessional distraction.

If possible, ask a friend to take the kids or your pets outside the home during the interview. This allows you to focus on the interview and not on that sound you just heard coming from the kitchen.

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Not being ready to share

khosrork/Adobe confused woman raising arms in questioning gesture

Even if your job interview doesn’t lend itself to providing examples of your previous work, be ready to provide some type of visual that demonstrates to the interviewer that you have put time and effort into this process.

This could be a portfolio of your work or even just your resume. The mistake here is not having some type of visual open in a table and ready to share. If you’re unsure of how to do this, now is a good time to set it up beforehand.

Not engaging with the interviewer

Monkey Business/Adobe man in kitchen using laptop

Engaging with the interviewer shows you’re genuinely interested and want to build a connection. It also helps you to become memorable.

Ask the interviewer how their day is and discuss things like the weather where you live. Then, keep up the conversation with questions that will yield valuable insights into the company or the work you'll be expected to do.

Make sure this is a real two-way conversation.

Not letting your personality shine

ChayTee/Adobe asian freelancer concentrated on laptop

Any job interview can be awkward and uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let your personality shine.

If you’re a funny person, make jokes to lighten the mood. If you’re social, make sure you allow that personality trait to come through in your smile.

It’s harder to do this in a video chat than face-to-face. But it’s crucial that you allow your personality to break through.

Avoiding eye contact

SB Arts Media/Adobe overwhelmed young woman paying bills

Not making eye contact is a subtle sign of insecurity or that you’re not being honest and open. Even if you’re anxious, force yourself to make eye contact.

You certainly can look around their space, and you don’t have to stare into the camera. However, make sure they notice that you’re actually looking at them. It’s a great way to be personable and memorable.

Leaving inappropriate tabs open

New Africa/Adobe troubled young woman

Screen sharing is a common part of interviews, especially when you have a fantastic portfolio to offer. But leaving tabs open on your computer that are less than appropriate is going to be problematic.

What’s inappropriate? Anything offensive shouldn’t be open, and looking at the competitor’s job openings or the social media page of the person you're interviewing with is also a mistake.

Being unprepared

fizkes/Adobe bored african businessman

Failing to prepare is a big mistake, whether your job interview is in-person or virtual. Don’t make this error, and learn about the company instead. 

Pay attention to what the job ad requires of applicants, be ready to ask questions about the type of work you plan to do, and learn more about the company’s mission.

That preparation will help you stand out in a world crowded with job candidates. Preparation is key if you want to land a job that allows you to get ahead financially.

Bottom line

tirachard/Adobe asian businesswoman using laptop

Virtual job interviews likely are here to stay. This type of chat requires a slightly different approach than you would take in a traditional face-to-face interview.

Yet, the two types of interviews also share similarities. So, treat a virtual interview seriously, putting time and effort into presenting yourself in a professional manner.

Doing so can help you land a job that will help you keep more money in your bank account and advance your career.

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Author Details

Sandy Baker Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.

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