Video interviews can be advantageous for candidates and in some cases can be as effective as the ‘in-person’ interview. The interview may take place either at the candidate’s home, a nearby company office, via a webcam provided by the employer or at an off-site location via webcam. If the employer supplies the webcam it will be accompanied with full instructions on its use.
The key to success, as with every interview, is an awareness of procedures and thorough preparation. A video interview is no different to a ‘proper’ interview. The candidate’s responses will be assessed as they would for a face-to-face interview.
If you are invited to attend a video interview, typically held via Skype, the following tips will help you to perform to the best of your ability:-
Prepare thoroughly : As you would for an ‘in-person’ interview, prepare for your interview in detail. Review the job spec, research the company, prepare a list of responses to typical interview questions, review your CV and prepare questions for the employer. If anything, your preparation should be more thorough than usual. The interview is being recorded leaving no room for misinterpretation or a vague recollection of your answers.
Choose your timing : Check the time difference if relevant for your video interview and try to arrange a time that suits you where possible. For example, if you are not a morning person request an interview early evening.
Ensure everything is in working order : If the interview is being carried out on your own equipment double check everything, including your microphone and your internet connection. If necessary, purchase a separate webcam rather than rely on the sometimes distorted sound and vision that comes from the built-in system of your laptop. Carry out a test run with a friend who will provide you with uncompromising feedback on how you sound – and your visual position.
Double check your surroundings : Ensure a neutral and uncluttered backdrop, which may mean removing books and files for the duration of the interview. Your intention is to keep the interviewer firmly focused on you, not on your collection of books.
Agree how to handle a pause : Internet connections drop out, screens freeze. Candidates should agree upfront with the interviewer on how to handle any problems arising during the interview.
Refer to your CV if necessary : Keep an online copy easily accessible as well as a printed copy for your reference. This will enable you to quickly highlight points in your career history which are relevant to the vacancy and share them via Skype. It is also useful to have online links to your portfolio ready to share during your interview.
Dress professionally : Irrespective of the time of day, always dress for a formal interview Wear a suit and stick to neutral colours – patterns may be distorted on a video screen. Again, if in doubt, ask a friend or colleague to carry out a trial run and provide candid feedback on your onscreen appearance.
Be confident : Be aware that you may be talking to more than one interviewer, even if you cannot see them. Speak clearly and express enthusiasm. A mumbled answer during a video interview does not project confidence.
Be aware of body language : The normal body language indications such as a firm handshake are lost in a video interview. Candidates can, however, maintain an upright posture, smile and engage eye contact to compensate for what is missing. For jobs where interaction with colleagues takes place regularly online, the video interview is an opportunity to display how comfortable you are in handling technology. Please also see the note on eye contact below.
Record your own interview : If you aren’t successful with your application, recording your interview will enable you to assess your performance and make your own notes on how to improve in future video interviews.
Always follow-up after your video interview : Follow-up after a video interview is perhaps more important than it is after an in-person interview. Send an e-mail expressing your gratitude to the interviewer for their time and reiterating your interest in the vacancy. Cover the points where you felt your experience was relevant and your skills were a strong match for the position.