If you have a video interview coming up you are not alone – they have become the COVID norm.

The video interview might be safe and convenient but they can make personal connection building more difficult.  We’ve all been there – the uncomfortable moment you both talk over each other, the strange eye contact, the funny frozen wave off at the end.

Whilst it’s important to master the technicalities of lighting and sound, it’s equally important to nail your own body language if you want to come off poised and professional. In fact, one study showed you may need to work harder in video interviews than face-to-face if you want to make a great impression.

Research by Missouri S&T discovered differences in the ratings of applicants interviewed by video versus in-person, with video applicants scoring substantially worse across likability, competence and hireability.

So how can you make sure if your interview is virtual, you are still coming across as warm, competent and likeable? The trick is to practice presentation and presence during the meeting.

Here are a few simple hacks to master the art of online body language.

1. Expand the horizon to maximise your gesture juice.

A lot of our communication impact comes from our hand gestures, yet a lot of people make the mistake of sitting too close to the camera, cutting off their arms and completely eliminating their gesture power. The trick is to position your body so that you are in the goldilocks zone with enough distance to see your hands but not too much that you look removed from the conversation.

Think about how you would normally sit comfortably across from someone at a desk. You are aiming for the same impression here. Angle the camera to allow the hirer to see enough of your upper body so they can take in key hand gestures without being too far away from the camera.

Now practice measured, deliberate and slow gestures, ideally with open palms, that emphasise key points during the video interview.  Notice if your gestures are getting too big or busy. The goal is movements that are calm, open and sincere.   Practice these until you feel comfortable.

A word of warning – minimise anything, like jewellery, that may jangle or click during the interview as this can be annoying coming through the microphone.

2. Train your eyes to disconnect from the screen and connect with the hirer.

The eyes are the key to a true connection but the moving video on our screens are a natural lure away for the eye from the all-important camera lens. This means if you are watching the hirers expressions you can come across disinterested as your eye contact is averted.

To maximise gaze impact set your camera at eye level and minimise your video window slightly so that when you look at the screen you are looking up as closely as possible to the camera lens. Then train yourself to always return your gaze from the screen to the lens before you start your sentence.

If you need it, place a post-it note next to the lens to remind yourself where to look. In particular, make sure to look squarely at the lens during the opening few minutes and closing of your interview. These are defining moments for rapport building.

3. Make friends with silence to harness the power of the pause.

The biggest blunder most people make in the online video forum is to rush in and cut off the other speaker.  Nerves in interviews tend to make this worse as we naturally speak faster when we are flustered. The key is to control your energy and timing. Before the interview, do some light exercise to burn off excess adrenalin (leave plenty of time to cool down) and then just before the interview begins, take 5 settling breaths to centre you.

During the interview make sure to speak with energy and a smile but at a measured pace.  The best trick is to utilise the power of the pause. Regular micro-pauses before each response will give your answer more impact and make sure you are not inadvertently speaking over the top of the hirer.

Most importantly keep your answers tight. The ramble is a key de-railer to interview success. Practise is the key to fluent and coherent interview responses.

4. Position your body for prime posture onscreen.

The psychology of body language tells us that how you hold your body sends constant messages to the hirer about your interest, trustworthiness and engagement.

To ensure you appear interested make sure to angle your body to the camera in a way that has you sitting upright but with a slight forward lean. Make sure to always remain open to the camera so no crossed arms.

If you really want to amp up your impact you can consider subtle mirroring of the interviewer’s gestures.  Just be careful that you do this subtly or you may creep the hirer out. Most importantly don’t forget to smile and nod when the opportunity presents.

The video interview is a new forum and takes some practice to master but with a few simple body language tricks, you’ll be acing the interview like a pro in no time.

Need help with your interview skills – contact our interview coaching team