What are video interviews?
Video interviews are nothing new. With tools such as Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, video interviews can be conducted easily with anyone who has access to the internet. Video interviews are generally used early in the hiring process. For example, the first interview stage where the business asks general questions can be conducted via video interview. More and more companies are utilising them these days. Video calls are beneficial because of convenience, cost savings, and to reach people in remote areas.
Video interviews are a fantastic opportunity to make a great first impression. So, what are the best practices for a video interview? We have outlined the essential information you need to know for a successful video interview.
Preparing for a Video Interview
The first thing the interviewer will see is your display name. Just like your email account, it is important to have a professional display name on whatever tool you will be using. A simple Lastname_Firstname will suffice. If this is not available, try and keep it as simple as possible so no mistakes can be made.
What should you wear to a video interview? Although you will be conducting the interview from the comfort of your own home, be sure you dress appropriately. Your attire is as important for a video interview as it would be for a normal interview. Make sure you are fully clothed! Just because the camera only captures the top half of your body, it does not mean you should only dress this part. You never know if you will have to get up to fix technical difficulties. Dress exactly as if you were going to an interview in person. Try to avoid bright colours or shiny jewellery as these could be distracting.
Set the Scene
The webcam gives a small view of you and your location. But this is enough for the interviewer to make a quick judgement about you as a person. Remember to clear your desk of clutter and tidy the room you are interviewing in. Having a clean scene sends the message that you are organised and professional. Ensure you have a clean back drop so the interviewer focuses on you and not distracting interior. A blank, white wall behind you would be ideal. If this is not possible, think of an attractive background you could use. Whether it’s a bookcase or warm colours. If there are posters behind you, take them down.
Check the Lighting
Due to the way camera optics capture images, lighting can play a large role in how you are seen on screen. Make sure that your lighting is coming from in front of you and not behind. If the light comes from behind you, it can create a strange silhouette around you making it hard to see your face. Soft natural lighting is the way to go.
Warn Everyone in the Household About the Video Interview
Make sure to tell the people you live with about the video interview. Let them know when it will take place and where you are going to be interviewing. Hopefully this will prevent unwanted noise and interruptions.
Research the Company
Just like with any interview, make sure you do your homework on the company. Understand industry trends, their needs, and how you can help solve their problems. You should prepare for a video interview as you would do a normal interview. Check out our blog on How to Impress at a Job Interview to find out more.
Practice is essential to success. We advise you practice a couple of times before the video interview. If you can, practice a video interview with a friend using the technology you'll be video calling on. Email them a set of questions, practice your responses, and get feedback on how you can improve.
You can also practice your body language. Movements like a firm nod, slight shoulder bend and eyes forward can all make you appear professional.
Avoid Video Interviews Errors
There is always the potential for technical issues. To avoid simple technical issues you should:
- Get familiar with the tool well in advance of the interview
- Have a practice and call to a friend to iron out any issues
- Use headphones and a microphone as this helps prevent feedback
- Make sure you know who is making the call and sign in early
- If you can't hear your interviewer, let them know so they can try to fix the problem
Video Interview Technical Issues
If you don't have the right technology for the interview at home, you need to think carefully about where to do it. If you have to video interview in a public place, let your interviewer know in advance.
Everyone sometimes encounters glitches that disrupt a video interview. It may be network problems or technical anomalies. If this happens, apologise to the interviewer for the problem and try to find a solution to it. You can ask for the interviewer's permission to call them back once you have fixed the glitch. Or suggest an alternative, like rescheduling or interviewing via another app.
Video Interview Tips: Questions & Answers
Tell me about yourself.
Give a brief introduction about yourself. Start with your personal and educational background. Follow it up with some information on your professional experience and achievements.
What attracted you to the job ad? Why did you decide to apply?
Include aspects about the company and job description that you liked. Ensure you come across as interested and motivated in the position.
What do you know about this company/position?
Prove that you took the time to research the company and the job you are applying for. You want to show that you know about the company policies, motto, and core values. Also, try to remember the job’s requirements.
Question: Why should we hire you?
Answer: State your professional experience and relevant job knowledge through examples and anecdotes. You should also try to incorporate your skills and achievements.
What are your salary expectations?
Research salaries for similar jobs to see what the average expectation is. The answer should be based on the size of the company, the location of the role and your experience level.
When is the earliest you can start?
Only you can answer this question. If you are currently employed, then tell them how long your notice period would be. If you are currently unemployed don’t sound desperate and say ‘tomorrow’. Try asking “When would you need me to start?”
Video Interview Tips: Do’s
Make Eye Contact
It is common sense to make eye contact, but if you make eye contact on video it will look like you are staring downwards. Look straight at the webcam to simulate eye contact. You will be looking directly at the interviewer. The eye contact will make you appear more confident and a better listener.
Use Relaxed Body Language
Although you should not be motionless on a video interview, you should also not move too much. You don’t want to appear as if you’re frozen, but you also don’t want to be a blur. Try not to fidget or get distracted because it could appear rude or not confident. Be relaxed and smile!
Check Your Technology
Before the video interview, double check to make sure your technology is working. Do not do this right before the interview! Give yourself at least 10 – 15 minutes to set up your laptop or desktop and make sure everything is in working order.
Be in a Quiet Environment
Do everything you can to minimise external sound. Silence your cell phone, close web applications, and turn off any notifications.
Video Interview Tips: Don’ts
If you are running behind schedule and do not login on time, you may miss your scheduled appointment. Missing the video interview indicates you’re not interested in the position and might be unreliable in the future.
Be Too Casual
A video interview for a job is just like a normal job interview. You shouldn’t treat it like a video call with friends. Casual expressions like “Hey”, “Huh?” and “Say again?” make it seem like you aren’t taking the video interview seriously.
Use Negative Body Language
You may not be sitting opposite the interviewer, but they can still see you. While on the video call, they can read your facial expressions and movements. While it’s normal to be reserved at first, nervousness throughout the interview is not good.
Video interviews are most likely conducted at a candidate’s home. But clothing and scenery should not reflect that. Casual clothes and sitting on a bed instead of a desk indicate a lack of professionalism. Read our blog on Dress Code at the Workplace for some ideas.