5 steps to a successful video interview

Rachel Swain, Editorial manager
May, 2017

Video interviews are an increasingly popular way of assessing candidates across all job sectors - this advice should help ensure you're ready to take on the challenge

Often used in the early stages of the interview process to filter out large numbers of candidates, video interviews can vary in style and length. You may be asked to answer pre-recorded questions with an allotted time given for each response. Or the interview may be live, in a similar format to a traditional interview and carried out on a platform such as FaceTime or Skype.

The obvious benefits of a video interview are the money and time savings for both the recruiter and the candidate. It also means that the recruiter and their colleagues can watch the interview again rather than just relying on notes. They're not without their disadvantages though, the main one being connectivity problems and time delays. Also, not everyone is comfortable on camera and this may put some candidates at a disadvantage. With some preparation these issues can be overcome and help you move on to the next stage of the process.

1. Be prepared

Talking on camera doesn't come naturally to some people so it's important to do some test runs to help you get used to it. Record yourself and watch it back to see how you look and sound. This is also a good opportunity to review your body language and make sure the background and lighting are okay.

As with any interview you should research the company and prepare answers to some of the most common interview questions. Another benefit of a video interview is that you can have some notes to hand. These need to be kept away from the camera and you shouldn't fiddle with them during the interview as paper rustling will affect the sound and distract you from what's being said.

2. Choose your location

Plan well in advance where you're going to do the interview. Use a quiet location, where you won't be disturbed by noises and people. Make sure the room you choose is tidy and use a clean and simple background so that the recruiter focuses on you.

Close any software on your computer that might play notification sounds, and switch your phone to silent, to guarantee you won't be distracted. Also, let everyone in the house know you're about to start the interview so they don't interrupt.

3. Dress professionally

You may be at home but it's still a job interview and this is your opportunity to give a professional first impression - this means dressing appropriately. You should wear the same outfit you would have chosen for a face-to-face meeting with the employer. Although you should think about how your clothes will look on screen and avoid busy patterns and stripes for example. For advice on what to wear take a look at how to prepare for an interview.

4. Use positive body language

You should avoid slouching, moving too much or touching your face. Instead employers will be looking for you to make good eye contact, smile, listen and take an interest in what they're saying. To help you do this your camera should be at eye level and you should look into it rather than at the screen.

If you're nervous it can be easy to rush what you're saying but remember that the employer wants to hear your answers. So speak clearly, and be careful not to interrupt as this is more easily done with the slight delay over the internet than during a face-to-face meeting.

5. Get technical

You also need to think about the lighting as it won't be a great interview if you can't be properly seen. To ensure you don't get a shadow either use natural light from a window or put a lamp in front of the camera and adjust the distance to get the best result.

A few days before the interview you should test the computer, camera and any software that you've been asked to use. Make sure the picture is clear and the sound quality is good. It's also worth checking your internet connection and ensuring that nothing on the day will affect it.

On the day of the video interview make sure everything is fully charged or plugged in as you don't want the battery to run down. You don't want to be still sorting things out as the interview starts so switch everything on at least half an hour before the interview and sign in to any software that you'll need.

If there are any technical hitches, for example if you can't hear the questions very well, don't struggle through as you won't put in your best performance. Mention the problem. It may easily be fixed, or the interviewer may be happy to end the call and redial.