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Should You Wear Headphones for a Video Interview?

Video interviews are fastly becoming more routine, with applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams allowing for clear and low-latency video conferencing. But, if you are preparing for a video interview, you may be wondering if it’s proper etiquette to wear headphones. Thankfully you’re not alone, and you can expect that your interviewer will be happy you’re asking these questions and thinking hard about this.

It’s a good idea to wear headphones in a video interview. Headphones will allow for more clear and concise communication to take place. While your laptop microphone and speakers may work, you can avoid mishearing and feedback issues using headphones.

Even though headphones might be appropriate for a video interview, you may be surprised to find out that the type of headphones you choose can reflect a lot to the interviewer. But regardless of what kind of headphones you have, you can rest assured that the fact you’re taking steps for a clearer video call will be noticed. We have some specific tips on how to handle this a bit farther down in the article, as well.

Why Using Headphones for Video Chat is a Good Decision

Using headphones can really improve your ability to communicate over a video call. While this seems obvious, there are many reasons why you should make the switch over to headphones that might surprise you. Here are some reasons why using headphones for a video chat is a great option:

  • It can significantly reduce the amount of echo heard on your microphone.
  • They will help you hear the interviewer more clearly.
  • They can help you tune out distractions if you’re in an environment with ambient noise.
  • Headphones can reduce the amount of delay between questions and answers. 
  • Using headphones will appear to make your interview more private, especially if you’re in a public space. This can reflect on your level of professionalism. 

Using a pair of headphones is one of the smallest things you can do to improve your call quality. At the very least, you should try and fish out an old pair of earbuds or headphones to make sure you can hear your interviewer better. While it might not seem like a huge issue when you’re in the middle of an interview, if you have to ask for the interviewer to repeat the question continually, or worse, mishear the question and answer incorrectly, it can reflect on you poorly. 

The bottom line is that using headphones produces much higher quality audio than just using your built-in computer or laptop speakers. They can reduce and prevent a lot of issues like echoing and muffled low-quality audio. Headphones also reduce the amount of ambient noise that your microphone can pick up, which can illustrate your professionalism and your dedication to your potential employer. 

Remember that even though it is a video call, you still need to take steps to broadcast that you are a quality candidate. Making sure you can hear the questions shows that you are willing to take the steps necessary to provide for the job. If the position is remote, it shows even more how you will be in a real-life situation.

Why the Quality of your Headphones Matters for Video Calls

Businessman in headphones makes videocall chatting with partner consulting client

While it’s true that any headphones or earbuds are better than none, there are options you might want to consider to boost the quality of your call. Not all headphones are created equal, and you might be surprised to find out that some types of headphones might communicate an unprofessional image.

This is why you should explore different options when it comes to headphones or headsets. One thing you should be conscious of is how your voice will sound. Headphones are just one part of the equation and a good microphone can take your call quality to the next level. 

Inexpensive Headphone/Microphone Combos for Interviews

There are lots of headsets to choose from, ranging in price from $20 to $300+. Regardless of which pair you decide to go with, you can rest assured that your call quality will improve immensely. But if you are planning on working remotely with your new employer, or video calls are just going to be a regular thing, you may want to invest in a higher quality headset. Here are some popular options in the entry-level price range to get you started in choosing a new pair of headphones with an attached microphone.

  • Mpow Single-Sided USB Headset (on Amazon) – This is a great entry-level headset that can easily be plugged into any computer and used without much setup. 
  • Eboda USB Headset (on Amazon) – Another entry-level headset, this basic pair of on-ear headphones and mic will get the job done and not put a strain on your wallet.
  • Bluefire Wired Headset (on Amazon) – If you are looking for wired earbuds with a microphone attachment, these are perfect for you. This headset has a slim, almost unnoticeable (if you get it in black), and will provide clear sound and a noise-canceling function. The noise-canceling feature makes these great for use in public places.

Higher Quality Headphone/Microphone Combos for Interviews

The options above will help you get clearer voice and audio but aren’t a huge step up from your built-in microphone and speakers. To make sure you have a product that will dramatically improve your call quality and last a long time, you could invest in a higher quality product. Here are some options to explore:

  • Jabra Evolve 40 (on Amazon) – These wired on-ear headphones with a built-in mic will provide you with high-quality audio that will be crisp and clear.
  • Plantronics Voyager Bluetooth (on Amazon) – This single ear headset is Bluetooth compatible and will offer one of the least distracting appearances of all types of headsets on this list.
  • Sony XM4 Bluetooth (on Amazon) – Sony has produced some of the highest quality headphones consumers can purchase. Enjoy crystal clear audio with the 5-built-in mics and noise-canceling features. These headsets will offer some of the best video call experiences.

More Subtle Bluetooth Headsets for Interviews

If you are serious about the interview and subsequently taking video calls in the future, then you should think about making this type of investment early. Another great option, and one that is becoming increasingly popular, is to use Bluetooth earbuds. Products like Apple’s Airpods Pro (on Amazon) or Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live (also on Amazon) come with high-quality audio and microphones built-in and are optimized for calls.

You may have already seen Airpods or other Bluetooth-enabled earbuds on newscasters as they are fastly becoming the norm when it comes to video conferencing. The best part about them is that they have technology built that helps reduce noise from the room, but they can also allow the sound to pass-through if you’d like.

This can be excellent if you are in an outside venue and still want to retain a certain level of understanding as to what is happening around you. Earbuds also have a small silhouette. This means your interviewer may not even notice them, which isn’t the most important thing in the world, but you may like this for appearing to look more subtle.

While it’s becoming more normal to use a headset for a video call or interview, there can still be a stigma surrounding wearing especially bulky headsets or headphones. If this is something that might bother you, then opt for a pair of Airpods or the Plantronics headset, rather than a pair of Dre Beats or some other kind of casual listening bass-boosted headphones.

Get Out Ahead of Any Judgement

Even though using headphones will vastly improve your call quality, there are still some out there that might pass judgment for seeing you with a pair on. This can especially be the case if you are using bulky gaming headsets or over the ear models. The best way to mitigate this type of issue is to get ahead of the problem.

What if the Interviewer Thinks the Headphones Are Unprofessional?

A good approach is to make it clear as to why you have the headphones on up front in your introduction. This will show you interviewer that you are trying to make the call as smooth as possible but can also show good communication skills. You could address this by saying something like: “You might notice I am wearing headphones. I just wanted the call to be as clear as possible.” Keep it simple.

Once you take control of messaging, you can steer the discussion towards what the conversation should be about: you as a candidate for employment. It’s best to relay this information at the beginning of the interview, possibly before making your introduction. Don’t be afraid to describe why you are wearing them.

Explain that the call quality will be diminished if you were using the built-in speaker and microphone on your computer. The majority of the time, your interviewer will wholeheartedly understand and be happy that you are taking steps to improve the meeting. You could talk about the echo issue and the issue of ambient noise coming through the microphone, or any number of other problems you’re hoping to avoid with the headphones..

These days coming across someone who is unfamiliar with the pitfalls of video calls will be rare, but not non-existent. Being aware of how your interviewer is reacting to your appearance is an excellent way to judge how deeply you need to get into your explanation.

Don’t let this dissuade you from using headphones, though. In fact, if your interviewer isn’t taking steps to ensure the quality of the call on your end, it might give you insight into how seriously the company takes communication, more importantly, it may even communicate that they’re not a good fit either.

How to Confirm Your Video Chat Software is Using your Headphone

The last thing you want to be doing is trying to figure out how to output your audio and microphone to your headset. Take some time to understand both your hardware and your software to make sure the interview goes well. Just like showing up late or in an unkempt look, having to troubleshoot your audio issues mid-call can be unprofessional. Here are a couple of quick overviews of how to set up audio and microphone functions on popular conferencing software. 


Testing your audio before a call:

  1. Once you have accepted the invitation to join a meeting, navigate towards the Test Speaker and Microphone tab.
  2. The meeting should present a pop-up window to test your speakers/headphones. If you don’t hear the tone, automatically use the drop-down menu to select the correct source or click no.
  3. Once you have heard the tone, hit yes, and continue to the microphone test.
  4. When prompted, speak into your microphone. If you don’t hear the recorded audio playback, find the correct source in the dropdown menu.
  5. Once you hear your voice, you have successfully set up the microphone.
  6. Click join with computer audio.

You can also use the audio setting when not joining a meeting to set things up, to do this, you just have to 1) sign out of the Zoom Client, and then 2) find your profile picture and click settings; 3) click the Audio Tab, and then 4) follow the sections to test your microphone and speakers.

Google Meet

How to set up your microphone and headphones/speakers

  1. Before your meeting, head to the main site and find the settings tab, then find general.
  2. If you are trying to access this during a call, go to settings, then audio.
  3. You should be able to change which microphone and speakers/headphones you are using as your input and outputs here.
  4. Once finished, click done.

Microsoft Teams

To change your speaker and microphone settings, follow these instructions:

  1. Click your profile picture located at the top of the screen.
  2. Find Settings, then Devices.
  3. Under Audio, select the device you wish to use as your output.
  4. Do the same for the microphone.
  5. You have successfully set up your devices.