How to shine in a video interview

Video Interviews are on the rise as employers seek to save time and reduce costs. They have become almost standard practice in recruitment where large numbers of candidates are involved, such as graduate programmes.

There are two main kinds of video interview. The first is 'one-way' where you are sent a link and are video recorded answering a series of pre-recorded questions. The other is ‘two-way’: you video link up with ‘real’ interviewers who ask you questions and respond to your answers just like the usual face-to-face interview.

Either way, there is more preparation required for a video interview than you might think. The impersonal and unfamiliar medium can put you at a disadvantage if you don’t prepare properly. 

1. Get the technical basics right

Equipment: It is best to do your interview from a static computer rather than a hand-held device. If you are using your laptop make sure it’s plugged in or that your battery is fully charged.

Connections: Is your internet reliable? If you have any doubts, go somewhere that you know has a good connection to be safe. 

Software: Download and test the software link before the interview. You need to feel comfortable with it, so you’re not distracted during the interview. 

Lighting: Front-side lighting is usually best. Try to position your computer and webcam near a window if it’s daytime. Natural light sources are more flattering. Rehearse how light from artificial sources work. You don’t want background light as this puts your face in shadow but nor do you want too much direct light as you can look over-lit. Test a good combination well in advance.

Position: You need to position yourself so that you can sit comfortably with a good image of you captured by the camera.

2. Presentation

The background: Make sure you have a clean, uncluttered background without any distracting elements. It goes without saying that this should exclude other people, pets and unmade beds! A plain wall is best.

Your clothes: Dress like you would for an interview. Putting on your Interview armour lifts your mindset. It also shows the interviewer that you are taking the interview seriously. 

Avoid distractions: Just like in a face-to-face interview, make sure you turn off your phone and work in a quiet room. Let flatmates or family member know the times of your interview and ask for privacy and peace. 

3. You & your responses

When you are in a video interview it is much harder to create rapport with your interviewer. But there are some things you can do to try to overcome that.

Sit still: A hand gesture or two is fine but don’t jiggle around in your seat. You want to appear serious, consistent and not visually distracting. Concentrate on keeping your head fairly still, at least.

Make eye contact: Eye contact is essential in a ‘real’ interview and it also helps in a video interview. But don’t look at the interviewer’s face on the screen! Unnatural as it may seem, remember to address your answers to the webcam. By doing this it appears to the viewer that you are looking at them. If you address your answers to the face on the screen it will appear to the viewer that you are looking down while you speak. It can help if you position your computer so that the camera is above eye level. 

Be involved and engaged: In a video interview it is harder to read body language clues for both parties. One common failing of video interviewees is to speak in a depersonalised monotone. So practise your answers whilst smiling and sounding interested.  

Pause and slow down: There may be transmission delays so make sure you speak slowly and avoid interrupting. Wait until you hear a question, pause and then answer as necessary.

4. Use a cheat sheet

You wouldn’t do this in a face to face interview but in this case no one will see a cheat sheet. Just jot down the few key points that you want to get over so that you remember to engineer them into relevant answers. Don’t spend too much time looking at it though - it will be noticeable. Your glances will be less obvious if you place your notes on the wall behind the camera.

5. Practice makes perfect

You may feel that you know what and how you are going to present but nothing helps more than preparation. Try recording yourself giving ‘standard’ answers and ask a friend if they will do a dummy interview with you via Skype. This will help you iron out any bugs in your technical and physical preparation.

There’s no doubt that video interviewing presents a specific set of challenges for candidates. However, as with any interview, you can prepare and plan ahead. The more you do this you better you will stand out against your competition. 

As always, if you have any questions or comments we will be pleased to hear from you.

For more information or help

See our Interview Coaching Service page, call us on 1300 97 87 66 or email us for more information. We will be pleased to help.