Top 10 Tips for Succeeding in Your Next Video Interview
Do you have a video interview coming up soon? Are you nervous about communicating your competencies and personality effectively through a screen?
We realise video interviews may appear daunting and perhaps sometimes a little awkward, but there are simple steps you can take during your interview preparation to increase your confidence and nail that upcoming interview!
Video interviews have become increasingly popular in recent years, with companies such as KPMG, Unilever and Vodafone making use of them to identify top tier talent. Furthermore, according to research conducted by the global analyst firm Gartner, 86% of companies are using virtual interviews during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Therefore, there is a high probability that your next job interview will be conducted virtually.
Follow these top 10 video interview tips to stand out from other candidates and ensure that you set the perfect lasting impression as a confident and prepared professional.
1. Prepare for a normal interview
First and foremost, don’t let the novelty of a video interview distract you from all the best-practice you already know about interviewing. Prepare for the interview questions just like you would for a normal interview! Research the company and job you are applying for very well and be ready for common questions, such as:
- "Tell me about yourself?"
- "Why do you want to work for our company?"
- "What are your strengths and weaknesses?"
Furthermore, identify essential competencies from the job description and prepare to answer competency-based questions using the STAR technique, such as:
- "Tell me about a time when you were given a major project by your manager and how you handled it?"
2. Create an appropriate setting
Ensure that the setting you choose to conduct your video interview in is a quiet and private space with no distractions, ideally this should be at your home or at an office. Remember to close windows and doors if it is necessary to maintain a quiet space, and, crucially, be in a room where there is a good internet connection. Make sure your CV is nearby and any notes that will help you answer the interview questions. Your background should be free of clutter and visual distractions such as posters, people or pets. Avoid doing the interview in a public space, such as a library or café, as noise and movements may distract the interviewer from the centre of attention– you! Always make sure your setting is as professional and pleasant to the eye as possible in order to show the interviewer that you are taking the opportunity seriously.
3. Get comfortable with the technology
Most of us feel enough nervousness during an interview as it is, so the last thing you want to happen while you are on video with the interviewer is a technical difficulty! Not knowing how to use important features of the application supporting the video interview can really throw you off course and may even frustrate the interviewer, therefore it is really, really important to familiarise yourself with the technology well in advance. You should be aware of the two most common forms of video interview, which are:
- One-way interviews: whereby you are presented with a question via text or video and you are given a limited amount of time to answer it through the use of platforms such as HireView and SparkHire.
- Live interviews: whereby there is a person on the other side of the interview asking the questions through the use of platforms like Skype or Zoom.
Find out the platform to be used for your particular interview, research it and play around with the features if possible. If you are using someone else’s devise to conduct the interview, make sure you have practised using it. Make sure it is possible to hear you well and that you can hear the speaker clearly. A good way to test the technology is by asking a friend to spend 15 minutes with you testing the system and practising some possible questions. This will ensure that you appear organised and tech-savvy on the day!
4. Conduct the interview on a computer at a good angle
Even though many video interview platforms are supported by mobile phone devices, it is recommended to carry out the interview on a laptop or desktop computer, as this will allow for a stronger internet connection and free up both of your hands! Holding a phone in a stable position and at the perfect angle for the duration of the interview will be very difficult as your hand will become tired and possibly trembly.
In an in-person interview, you would be sitting directly in front of the interviewer and at the same level as them, therefore position your camera directly in front of you and at eye level. If necessary, place some books underneath your devise to ensure your camera is at the right angle. It may seem more convenient to use a mobile devise or to keep your laptop in its normal position, but putting in that extra effort to position your computer at a good angle will ensure you are not looking down at the interviewer and that all your facial features look flattering on camera!
5. Look at the camera
One of the most important tips for video interviewing is to look at the camera when talking to the interviewer, not at your screen. For most of us, it feels unnatural to stare at a little black eye at the top of our devices, our eyes automatically search for a face to speak to, but looking directly at the camera is the only way to keep eye contact with the interviewer. It is important to practise doing this before the interview so that you are comfortable on the day. You do not need to stare at your camera the whole time, it is perfectly fine to glance at notes you are keeping nearby or let your eyes briefly wander to your surroundings – remember to keep it as natural as possible. You may also be distracted by seeing yourself in the corner of your screen – after all, you would not be looking at yourself during an in-person interview! A useful tip is to cover your picture using a post-it note, that way you will have less distractions on your screen.
6. Adjust the lighting
Having the correct lighting is a very important part of presenting your best self on camera – ask anyone who works in filming! If possible, do the video interview in natural light, such as by the window. If it is not bright enough, however, make use of artificial light available in your home/office. Try to position the light in front of you and/or at the sides of your face to really brighten up your complexion, but avoid relying on an over-head lamp only, which will cast a down shadow over you. You want to make sure you appear bright and energetic to the interviewer, therefore take some time to play around with the light available to you.
7. Dress to impress
Just like for any in-person interview, setting a good first impression on video involves looking professional and presentable. Consider the values and culture of the organisation you are applying to work for when deciding on the formality of your outfit for the interview, but avoid wearing anything below business-casual…at least from the waist up. After all, if doing the interview in your sweatpants or pyjama bottoms makes you more comfortable, the interviewer won’t be any the wiser!
It is recommended to wear neutral colours which are easy on the eyes, but avoid wearing only black or white if possible. Consider wearing colours that suit you well and add brightness to your appearance. If you are someone who wears make-up, consider applying some to accentuate your facial features for the video interview, as the camera tends to make people look paler than usual. You will not get the job on appearance alone, but not looking presentable could certainly be enough to disqualify you from the job, so make sure you show the interviewer your most professional self, even from the comfort of your home.
8. Remember to pause
We all know that it is rude to interrupt someone when they are speaking, but during a video interview this may happen totally unintentionally due to sound delay when using digital technologies. For this reason, make sure to let the interviewer finish their question and wait a few seconds before delivering an answer. This will prevent any awkward overlap of voices or miscommunication. Furthermore, remember that it is always acceptable to take a few moments to gather your thoughts before answering. For example, you can say: “That is a great question. Please just give me a short moment to think of a specific example for you.” Pacing yourself will show the interviewer that you are a good listener and a thoughtful speaker.
9. Thank the interviewer
So, you finally make it to the end of the interview – you have followed the tips above, you set a good impression, you looked professional – calm, cool and collected – and you answered all the interviewer’s questions to the best of your ability. The only thing left to do is thank the interviewer for their time and take a final moment to reinforce your interest in the position you are applying for. Let them know you are looking forward to hearing from them soon and hope to be a valuable addition to the team. You want to leave the interviewer with a positive final impression, so show your appreciation and enthusiasm for the opportunity available to you.
Last, but certainly not least, remember to smile during the interview. In order to look enthusiastic and confident on camera, you will need to use more energy than normal. Therefore, you are encouraged to smile a little more than you normally would during your video interview. You will not only set a more positive atmosphere for the person on the other side of the camera, but you will also sound more passionate about the things you are talking about. If you are really nervous, smiling more might even trick you into believing you’re having a better time during the interview than you really are!
The most important message to take home from this article is to make the video interview feel as close to real life as possible. We recognise that this form of interviewing may not be appealing to everyone, but we sincerely hope these simple, but powerful, tips will help you nail your next video interview and hopefully land a job that is both personally fulfilling and takes you to the next level in your career. Good luck!