How to Prepare for Video Interviews – The Ultimate Guide

The Rise of The Video Interview

Job interviews have traditionally involved diligent interviewers sitting across from anxious-looking candidates. Terse handshakes are exchanged before the interviewer fires off question after question to find the perfect person for the job.

In an age of powerful technology, it’s no longer necessary or practical to bring candidates to you or to go to them. In fact, people are increasingly interviewed and hired without an in-person meeting.

More and more companies are declining to conduct in-person meetings at all, choosing instead to schedule video interviews.  A 2019 survey of members of the ISE (Institute of Student Employers) suggested that around 47% of employers (including large firms and industry stalwarts) have conducted video interviews.

This is, in part, is due to the way in which many companies now work. It’s common for businesses to hire remote workers and outsource work, meaning face-to-face meetings are not always possible. Video interviews allow the interviewer to communicate with candidates in any corner of the world. There’s no need for either party to travel – which helps to save time, money and the planet.

Video interviews also allow companies to optimise efficiency and stretch budgets as they do not require as much effort as a face-to-face meeting. In fact, companies can potentially organise twenty video interviews in the time it takes to set up one face-to-face meeting. The whole process is more streamlined – interviewers and candidates just need access to a device with a camera, and in this digital age, that’s not difficult.

The lack of direct contact is also desirable in our current challenging climate. Sadly, the Coronavirus pandemic has become a very real threat. We need to minimise our interaction with others – put simply we cannot afford to take unnecessary risks.


How Do Video Interviews Work?

There are typically two ways an employer can go about setting up a video interview. There’s the “live” interview which is conducted in real-time and calls for the interviewer and candidate to engage on-screen. Alternatively, the employer can pre-record interview questions, leaving the candidate time to answer after each one. The interviewee records their answer and returns the video to the interviewer. Pre-recorded interviews allow the candidate the opportunity for a practise run.


How to Make Sure Your Video Interview Goes Well

Video interviews do not have to be intimidating – candidates should treat a video interview in the same way as they would treat a regular face-to-face meeting. The three P’s will serve you well if you’re in doubt:

#1 Preparation

Don’t leave everything to the last minute. You will feel much better about the impending interview if you’re calm, composed and well-informed before you begin.  We suggest you:

Check Your Tech

Don’t wait until five minutes before the interview to switch on your device and check everything is working ok. Make sure you are familiar with your set up. Do you know how the camera and microphone works? Can the volume be altered if needs be, and can you mute the conversation should you need to? You should also  turn off any notifications or alerts that might ping or pop up during the interview. Focus your attention solely on the interviewer and the questions you are asked.

Stay Connected

The interviewer may want to carry out the interview using a platform you are unfamiliar with e.g. Zoom, Skype etc – if this is the case make sure you get to know the nuts and bolts of the interface. Check if you need to upload anything in advance and have a practise run with a family member or friend if possible. You should also make sure your internet connection is working as well as possible.

A slow connection can cause problems with visual images and sound, and you don’t want to have to worry about the quality of the video while you’re trying to provide articulate answers. 

Know Your Time Zones

Video interviews provide the opportunity for employers to connect with potential candidates the length and breadth of the globe. If you have been invited to an interview make sure you check time zone, so you know when you need to be online. If you have been invited to an interview at an odd time e.g. 3.00am don’t be afraid to contact the interviewer to clarify – they may have made a mistake.

Do Your Homework

The interviewer will probably ask what you already know the business and what you can bring to the role. Find out what you can about the company (and the role you are interviewing for) in advance. Knowledge is power and you can impress the interviewer with your insight and forethought.

Plan Your Answers

Employers are looking to assess qualities such as creative problem solving and effective communication. Chances are, they will have a long list of tried and tested interview questions – designed to provide a glimpse of your personality and work ethic. You can’t second guess everything they will ask, but do plan a few good answers in advance. Interviewers are likely to enquire after your strengths and weaknesses, past successes, and future plans.


#2 Professionalism

Interviewers are looking for certain qualities, and we figure professionalism will feature high on the list. To make a great impression we suggest you:


Choose Your Setting Carefully

It’s a good idea to consider where you are going to take part in the video interview.

Think about your backdrop – a plain wall is better than a cluttered kitchen surface as there’s less to distract the eye. Make sure there’s nothing on show that you would rather your potential employer did not see. Check the lighting in the room and if possible, try to conduct in a bright room with plenty of natural light. If needed set up a light source beforehand that will ensure you are clearly visible to the interviewers and not sinking into the shadows.

Minimise Disruptions

If you’re at home it’s wise to pick a quieter time e.g. not breakfast time just before the school run. Select a spot where you can close the door and minimise disruptions. Don’t talk to pets, family members or anyone else who happens to be in the vicinity – put a sign on the door if needs be telling people not to disturb you.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Despite your best intentions, there’s a good chance not everything will go to plan. Even if you have set yourself in a quiet spot there may be unexpected distractions, such as the doorbell ringing or next door’s dog yapping. The same goes for technology, even if you have checked everything in advance you might still experience the odd glitch. If this happens maintain your poise and keep going as best you can.


#3 Polish

There may be a number of candidates vying for the same role. Stand out from the crowd by making sure you give a polished performance. We suggest you:

Exude Confidence

Confidence is key. The interviewer will be able to pick up on your tone of voice and the body language you use. Slouching in your chair won’t do you any favors, instead choose a straight-backed chair to ensure your posture is spot on. Where possible, make eye contact with the interviewer too. You might not be face to face but eye-contact indicates you are interested and attentive. 

Look the Part

You might be interviewing from the comfort of your own home but you still need to dress the part. Leave the comfy casuals for later and instead go for a smart and polished look. Keep in mind that not all colors look great when viewed on-screen. Steer clear of muted nude / pastel colours that may fade into the background and opt for bright garments, with a colour that compliment your hair and skin tone.

Make Sure You’re Picture Perfect

Ensure the device you choose delivers a clear and well-positioned image. Start by making sure the lighting suits the environment (if it’s too bright you could dazzle the interviewer). If it’s not angled well you could find yourself squinting at the screen or casting strange shadows! You should also check the position of your camera, aim for a flattering angle (just above eye level should do the trick).


Are You Ready for Your Video Interview?

Businesses look set to incorporate video interviews into the recruitment process on a more regular basis, as they prove to be an efficient and effective method of assessing candidates. Therefore, if you’re looking for a new role, you may well be invited to attend a video interview. We hope this brief guide on how to prepare for video interviews has been of use to you. If you have an interview coming up, can we please take this opportunity to wish you the very best.

Ciara Nugent avatar
Senior Recruitment Consultant
+353 1 649 8589