How to prepare for a video interview: the candidate edition

2020 has been a lot of things, but in the world of recruitment, it’s become the year of the video interview. While we’re all getting pretty used to talking to colleagues, family and friends over video conferencing, video interviews can be a completely different experience to face-to-face job interviews.

As remote working becomes more familiar, video interviews are proving to be more and more popular. For one thing, they save time and resource but also allow companies the opportunity to talk to candidates who live further afield.

In this blog series, our Lead Resourcing Partner, Amanda, will be exploring the things that candidates and employers should consider when preparing for a video interview. Spoiler alert, it’s not the same on both sides!

In this blog, we’re exploring video interviews from a candidate’s perspective. Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking and tense experience; as well as potentially life-changing. As a candidate, you want to showcase yourself in the best light.

While video interviews take away some of the pressures that an in-person interview has (no one can see whether your shoes are shiny and suitable), they come loaded with other issues regardless of industry or position. From the strength of your internet connection to the background setting, video interviews come with many other factors to consider.

Here are Amanda’s tips for candidates who are about to have a video interview:

Research your interviewer beforehand 

It’s great to know a little bit more about the person interviewing and to put a face to the name before you find yourself speaking to them over video call. Take the time to look at their LinkedIn profile and find out a bit more about them; you may even find you have something in common, which can break the ice in the interview.

Do your checks! Check the link, the audio and your webcam

No one wants to get to five minutes before the interview and realise their webcam isn’t working. Make sure you test everything in advance to try and avoid any technical issues. Familiarise yourself with the video platform too; there are so many out there these days so you need to make sure you know how to use it before the interview.

Find a quiet well-lit area and close the windows!

You can almost guarantee that the second you start a video interview your neighbour will decide it’s a great time to cut their grass or their dog will start barking. Make sure you find a quiet area of your house which is well lit so that the interviewer can see you, then close all windows to minimise distractions.

Dress professionally – block colours are best

You may be at home but trust me, no one will give you a job if you’re very obviously wearing pyjamas. Treat the video interview like any other and plan a professional-looking outfit in advance. Block colours work well on camera and are less distracting, but make sure you feel comfortable as well as professional.

Place your phone in silent mode

It may seem obvious but make sure your phone is either off or in silent mode throughout your interview. Constant message notifications or worse your phone ringing will disturb the interview and will not reflect well on you.

Get yourself a drink

You’ll be doing a lot of talking in the interview, so make sure you have a drink on hand in case your throat gets dry. You can also take a sip to buy you more time to think of an answer.

Get comfortable 

Fidgeting during the call will detract concentration on both sides, so make sure you’re comfortable and try to sit still. You want the interviewer to be completely focused on what you’re saying not distracted by your fidgeting.

Take a breath and get in the zone

Avoid doing your video calls somewhere you associate with comfort or rest such as your bedroom if at all possible, otherwise you’ll feel too relaxed and not in the zone. Remember to breathe (sometimes easier said than done) and try not to let the nerves take over.

Close all other tabs, browsers and programmes

With other tabs or browsers open, distractions are always going to be a possibility. Make sure you minimise the chances of getting distracted by closing everything down, so your interview has your full attention.

Show you’re engaged

Smile, nod and respond to any statements the interviewer makes. It’s so easy to look bored or disinterested over video if the interviewer can’t see your body language, so make sure they can see you’re paying attention and are interested in what they’re saying.

Make eye contact 

Eye contact makes you look more confident and helps establish a connection between you and the interviewer. Remember, you need to look into the webcam, not at the interviewer when you’re looking to establish eye contact. This does feel unusual so practice!

Allow a pause between your sentences and between questions

It can be hard to pick up on body language cues over video, so leaving some space allows for the conversation to flow without interruptions. It will allow for any delays in the audio, which is likely over video and will ensure that the interviewer can take in your answers.

Do your usual prep! 

An interviewer can always tell if you’re prepared or not. You may be able to hide some notes or prompts off-camera in a video interview, but that doesn’t mean you can avoid interview prep. Researching, practising answers and reviewing your own experience can help you to feel less nervous when the interview comes.

There are some situations that you can’t prepare for, no matter how much you try. Here is Amanda’s advice for some of those what-if moments.

What if…

The video or audio stops working?

Ask for the interviewer’s phone number ahead of time – this way, you can call if things go wrong. It doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan; it will help you to avoid a panic if the worst happens. Plus, shows you’re conscientious and prepared, which are great qualities to show an interviewer.

Noise interrupts the conversation

Don’t panic! It happens, so don’t let it embarrass you or throw you off. If there is a noise whilst you are speaking, apologise, advise you’ll wait for the noise to stop before continuing. If the noise occurs on your side whilst the interviewer is talking, apologise and mute your line until it’s time for you to respond.

If someone comes into the room?

Again, it happens. Don’t let it fluster you, and don’t get too angry at whoever has come in – this will throw you off your groove! Simply apologise, let the interviewer know you need to make the room secure, mute your audio and turn off your webcam whilst you deal with the situation, and then return cool and calm!

Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll feel more prepared for your video interview and ready to wow your potential new employer. Try to remain calm, professional and show them exactly what you can do.

Keep your eyes peeled for our employer’s guide to preparing for video interviews which will be coming soon. Plus, to keep up to date with our latest blogs and the best recruitment insights, sign up to our bi-weekly newsletter on this page.