What Is a Background for a Video Interview? (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 25, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are many recruiters and hiring managers who interview job candidates online. These video interviews require candidates to consider certain aspects that aren't factors for in-person interviews, such as the background behind them. Knowing what's key to creating a professional background can help you appear more organized and prepared, two qualities that often impress hiring managers. In this article, we define what a background for a video interview is, explain why it's important, discuss some options for where you can conduct your video interview, and examine some factors to consider about your video interview background.

What is a background for a video interview?

The background for a video interview is the backdrop that appears behind you as you sit in front of the camera. A video interview takes place over the internet rather than in person. A video interview might be live, or it may involve prerecording your answers and submitting them through a portal. Knowing which type of video interview you have scheduled is important to ensure you prepare properly. Regardless of the kind of interview, it's essential that the background behind you looks professional and visually appealing.

In a traditional in-person interview, your aesthetic concerns might involve your clothes and appearance. But during a video interview, it's also important to consider the space around you. A professional and clean video interview background, free of clutter and distractions, can help you maximize your chances of securing a job offer by allowing the interviewer to focus on your responses.

Related: What to Wear to a Video Interview

Why is your background important for video interviews?

When preparing for an interview, many candidates focus on what they might say and how they might frame their responses. Communicating that you have the necessary experience, credentials, skills, and enthusiasm to excel in the role and help the organization you're applying to is a great way to impress a recruiter or hiring manager. But your words aren't the only factor that matters. Many candidates know this and ensure they dress professionally and express confident and energetic body language.

With video interviews, your background is particularly important. Just as you want to dress professionally to impress the interviewer, setting up the environment around you is also necessary. If you conduct video interviews from your home, it's essential to ensure that your background is neat and professional. A clean background conveys that you're an organized person and that you pay attention to detail.

Related: Tips on How You Can Prepare for an Online Interview

Where to conduct your video interview

The first step in ensuring you have a professional background for your interview is to choose where you want to do it. Picking the right room is an important decision. Here are some options to consider:

Home office

If you have a home office or study, this can be a great place to conduct your interview. Offices are professional spaces, so even though you're in your home, you can demonstrate professionalism with this space. Like any space, it's important to ensure there's no clutter for a professional appearance.

Dining room or kitchen table

A table without many objects is a good location to place your computer for the interview. A kitchen or dining room table is often suitable for this purpose. While it's not necessarily a problem to have your fridge or kitchen countertop visible in the background, it's crucial that you ensure it's not cluttered or messy. It's also important that there's nobody visible behind you in the kitchen or dining room area.

Bedroom

Your bedroom isn't a great option for your interview if you can avoid it, but not everybody has another suitable option. If you live with others, and your bedroom is the only place you can guarantee privacy, you can do your interview there, provided you have a desk or table where you can sit. It's best if your bed isn't visible in the background behind you. If all that's behind you is a blank wall or door, then your bedroom can work fine.

Related: Video Interview Guide: Tips for a Successful Interview

Library

Depending on your living arrangements and the time of your interview, conducting it from home may not be practical. You might have a favourite cafe where you work or study, but you can't guarantee a professional setting even if it's usually quiet. It might be worth looking into reserving a private room at your local public library. Many libraries offer private study rooms you can book for free. Public libraries also typically have free Wi-Fi.

Work or school

If you can arrange to use a private office, conference room, classroom, or study room at work or school, these settings can also provide professional backgrounds for video interviews. It's crucial to ensure that you can be alone for the duration of the interview. Before you begin your interview, getting permission to move something behind you may be necessary, such as a poster or other distractions.

Related: Interview Questions: Education Background Examples

Factors to consider for your video interview background

There are other factors to consider apart from the location of your video interview. Once you have chosen a room or space to conduct your interview, it's imperative to look around the area to ensure it has a professional appearance. Some factors to think about include:

Books

Displaying your home library behind you can convey that you're well-read. It can also be an excellent way to demonstrate your personality. This is a good option for an interview background if you have a very kempt and neatly organized bookshelf or bookcase. If it's organized and free of clutter, it may provide a visual backdrop that allows the interviewer to focus on you and your responses. It's also essential that all the visible books are professional.

Decorations

You may take great care in curating your decorations, souvenirs, memorabilia, trophies, posters, and artwork to convey a sense of your personality and achieve a cohesive aesthetic. Still, it's important to consider these visual elements when creating a background for a job interview. Decorations may provide visual distractions, and they may not convey an accurate sense of your professional side. It's also wise to reduce any artwork or decorations behind you to just one or two pieces.

Lighting

How you set up the lighting on yourself and the background behind you is key to your presentation during a video interview. To look your best on camera, experiment by moving lamps around to see what gives you the best look before you start the interview. Natural light is often the best, so you can sit in front of a window if possible. Indirect natural light also looks great if you don't want the sun shining directly on you.

You may find your space looks darker on camera than it seems in the room. You might want to turn on a lamp even if it's sunny. It's crucial to avoid backlighting as much as possible. If the light source is behind you, you may not appear as clearly to the interviewer, so it's essential to have the light shining on your face, not your back.

Related: How to Prepare for and Succeed at Video Interviews

People and pets

If you live with family or roommates, it's essential to notify them before your interview that you'd like them to be quiet for that period of time. Close the door to your room and ask people living with you not to disturb you or make noises, such as playing loud music or using a noisy appliance like a blender or vacuum cleaner. If possible, it's best to notify them a day or two in advance.

Another possible source of noise is a pet. If you have pets, keeping them in another room is probably best. If you have a pet that scratches at closed doors and might make noise if separated from you, it might be best to leave them in the room with you if you think they can stay quiet. An interviewer is unlikely to judge you harshly if your pet makes a noise during the interview, but a noisy pet can distract, so it's wise to do what you can to avoid that situation.

Related: Best Practices for a Successful Zoom Interview

Virtual backgrounds

Depending on your circumstances, a virtual background might be your best option for a job interview. Many video chat programs offer the choice to create a virtual background. You may even have the option for a virtual office, library, study, or a solid colour background.

It's important to note that these backgrounds can look a little fuzzy and pixilated, depending on your internet connection. It's critical to test your virtual background options before the interview starts. Make sure to choose a space with a strong Wi-Fi connection or perhaps even connect to the modem directly with an ethernet cable to ensure you have the best connection possible for your interview.

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