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Video Interview Tips

22 May 2023

Video interviews are a growing trend in the recruitment world. Just as the name suggests, a video interview is a face to face interview, but generally where the candidate is at their own home or office.

Video interviews can make recruitment much easier for employers, meaning they can schedule interviews much quicker and interview a larger number of people without worries about travel and other commitments.

This has become much more common since the Covid-19 pandemic, with many more job interviews being conducted as video interviews than ever before, through platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.

If you’ve a video interview to look forward to, then read through our tips below to make sure you’re prepared, and are ready to expect the unexpected.

Check Your Technology

Yes, we know it sounds obvious, but make sure you have the right programme on your computer to enable a video call with sound. Whether it’s Skype, Facetime, Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or some other programme, make sure it works by testing it – have a video call with a friend to check you’re clear on how to set it up.

Secondly, make sure your internet connection is a good one. We’ve heard of countless stories where connections have dropped and candidates have missed out on a great opportunity. If you can, use a hard-wired computer, but failing that – sit somewhere near the wireless router to ensure you get the best signal possible. There's nothing worse than a dropped connection when you're mid-flow.

If you are going to be using a laptop, which many people do because of their built-in cameras, remember to ensure that you either have it plugged in and charging during the call or that you have charged it sufficiently to last for the entire duration of the call.

Letting your laptop run out of juice is even worse than having a poor internet connection for the interview and it will be seen as poor planning on your part if that is the reason for dropping the call mid-interview.

Choosing a Username and Profile Photo

Whatever programme you are using, make sure what the recruiter sees about you is professional and appropriate. Remember, they’ll see your profile picture, username and possibly other elements of your online profile, so take care to think how the recruiter could react to what they see. Profile names such as ‘thebeermonster’, ‘buxombeautybabe’ and ‘the donkey’ probably won’t go down too well (depending of course on the job you’re going for). Nor will a picture of you half naked on an office table.

Getting the Environment Right

You need to make sure the environment you’ll be sitting in is appropriate for the task in hand. If it’s an office, you’ll generally be ok – though watch out for whatever is on the wall behind you. If you are sitting in front of a window, try to change the angle of the camera so the window isn’t visible, as what’s outside could be distracting for your interviewer. If you’re doing this at home, make sure you’re sitting somewhere fairly neutral, quiet, and away from other distractions such as phones and the television.

Try to choose as plain a background as possible, a wall painted in a single colour is one of the best backgrounds to use. Many of the video call programmes now have their own set of backgrounds that you can use but we recommend not using them and just using your own natural background.

It can look weird when you move and it can make the interviewers wonder what you are hiding by not showing your true background. Also, please don’t play around with the filters as you may end up as a cat on the call like one poor, unfortunate solicitor in the US did during a trial.

Practice Makes Perfect

If this is going to be your first video interview, have a practice run just to help you get used to talking to a computer screen! For some people, it’s an odd feeling and seeing your own picture looking back at you can make you highly self-conscious. If you can’t remove that image from your screen, then you should take some time to get used to it.

The good news is that doing video calls gets easier the more you do it and many people have now had experience of using video calls. Far more than at any time in recent years. Lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic ensured that so much communication switched to video calls that it has made them mainstream and a pretty normal part of life for many people.

Final Tips and Tricks

Dress for the part! You might be at home, relaxed and comfy in your vest and baggy shorts, but the recruiter probably won’t want to see that! Dress in exactly the same way you would for an interview. Some might be tempted to dress up from the waist up, but beware the time when you might have to stand up because something unplanned happens!

Try to ensure that there are as few interruptions as possible. We can all picture times from during the pandemic when people’s cats have invaded calls or the time a BBC journalist’s children joyfully burst into the room when he was live on television and had to be wrangled by his wife. These moments can be funny and charming but they aren’t generally what an interviewer is looking to see.

Talk as naturally as possible and smile slightly more than normal. This is because it can be harder to understand meanings when you are on a video call than when you are talking face to face normally. so making up for it by smiling more can help.

There is sometimes a slight delay in the sound and this lag can be enough to make for a slightly halting conversation as you both find it difficult to follow normal conversation cues and try to speak at once. Always say “after you” and allow the interviewer to speak first. This should defuse some of the tension and make the flow of the conversation come more easily.