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Nail your Video Interview - 10 Tips for Success

In light of recent events, your interview process may have taken a digital turn and for many, this will be unchartered territory.

Being a recruitment agency and operating specifically within the learning sector, remote video interviews are thankfully nothing new to us and as a result, we’ve guided countless candidates and clients to success when faced with one.

At a glance, they sound like a breeze and with the foundation checks in place, they can be. All too often, however, both interviewers and interviewees lean into the relaxed atmosphere of a video interview and make rather rookie mistakes that can cause detrimental damage to the likelihood of completion or success. We’re going to need you to avoid that from happening, please.

So to aid you, we’ve compiled our top 10 most important video interview tips for you to implement, should the occasion arise.

1. Select the device and platform

If you’re the interviewer, you’re most likely in charge of selecting the platform. You’ll probably have a preference in mind but it’s important to select a video conferencing tool that doesn’t require internal access or even an account set-up before joining. We’ve already done the hard work for you and compiled some of our favourite video interviewing tools here. You’re welcome.

As for the device, if you have access to one, choose a desktop/laptop paired with a built-in or external webcam. This will always appear more professional than holding your phone at arms-length whilst walking around the house. If you don’t have any access to the former, then be sure that you can safely mount your mobile device into a fixed position. A half-decent car phone holder would do the trick. 

2. Choose a quiet room

This can’t be stressed enough. Given the circumstances of current affairs, your side of the interview will most likely be performed from the comfort of your own home and so it’s paramount that you select a quiet room, free of distractions that gives you the ability to listen and be heard. So this means no TV blaring away in the background or kids entering unexpectedly. Though that could create some comedy gold as it did for Professor Robert Kelly. Regardless, try and avoid. 

Professor Robert Kelly conducting an interview when his child walks in

3. Pre-communicate with people nearby

If you live with family or friends, be sure to previously (and politely) communicate your need for their temporary removal or complete silence. You wouldn’t have anybody but yourself to blame if somebody unexpectedly enters the room in their PJ’s (or less) during your interview.

4. Set your frame

Setting your frame is hugely important for a video interview as it’s one of the few ways you’ll get to establish a strong first impression. Regardless of the size or decorative value of your selected room, there’ll be a good, neutral spot to face the camera. Ensure the background is clear of clutter and mess, keeping the focus on you in a simple medium close-up (head and shoulders). 

To partner the frame, your lighting needs to be on-point. Standard room lighting can often be enough, however, depending on positioning it can often work against you. For example, if your light source is directly behind you it can leave you as a silhouette whereas if your light source is directly beaming into your face it can overexpose you. Opt for a middle-ground or better yet, sit by a window with some natural daylight flowing through. Open up your webcam beforehand or run a test video call with a friend to ensure both elements are in place. 

woman in white t-shirt using laptop by window

5. Testing 1,2,3 - Audio

Possibly the most crucial element to your interview is ensuring that your audio is clear and understandable. Your built-in microphone and speaker on your laptop, desktop or mobile device should be sufficient enough, however, in the assumed absence of a professional audio kit, it would be safer and simpler to use a headset or pair of headphones with a built-in microphone to ensure both parties are properly audible. The majority of modern in-ear or overhead headphones come equipped with such but as ever, test, test, test.

A pair of headphones on black table

6. Dress appropriately

Just because this is a video interview, it doesn’t get you off the hook to properly present yourself. Unless communicated otherwise, the dress-code will be similar to that of a face-to-face interview so be sure to dress both smart and appropriately. Tempting though it is to only dress your upper-half, you’ll be in a much more professional state of mind when dressed head-to-toe and God forbid that you stand up a little too early before hitting the ‘end call’ button.

man on laptop dressed in white shirt

Again, with the limitation of first-impression techniques at your disposal, your well-dressed digital self will pay dividends to the atmosphere and overall success of the interview.

7. Test your internet connection

This may sound very basic, but it’s a very important basic point to highlight. We all know our internet providers conspire together to wait until we’re in the middle of something astronomically important before throwing us off. There’s a small chance that it is just coincidence and an even bigger chance that could be prevented with a little network testing beforehand. 

Ensure you’re connected to a stable WiFi rather than cellular data and if you’re on desktop/laptop and the room permits it, whack in the ethernet cable to provide you with a stable and persistent connection.

Ethernet cable

8. If screen-sharing, clear your desktop

A simple tip but one that could save your new potential career; if you’re going to be screen-sharing, it’s vital that your conscious about what could be on show. It could be business-sensitive documents, personal or recreational materials or even just irrelevant browser tabs that could leave the other party with a few questions (or scarred memories). 

Laptop screen displaying man working

Take two minutes to quickly audit your desktop into simple files and close irrelevant tabs and windows. Have prepared only what you intend to show and be familiar with where it’s saved, they’re not going to want to watch you searching through a minefield of clutter.

9. Join at the correct time

Unlike an in-person interview, it doesn’t play too much to your advantage to turn-up 15 minutes early. Some platforms won’t even let you join a video conference before the allotted time and so it’s good practice to be exactly on time and never late. Be at your machine well in advance, however, covering off the previous checks and preparing any notes or files that you’ll be needing.

10. Stay noticeably engaged throughout

A bit like a driving test when checking your mirrors and signal, you’re going to have to over-accentuate your body language and visible reactions. They’re likely not going to be able to see the interest beaming from your eyes and so a few nods of the head and sounds of agreement will go a long way to encourage the current speaker that you’re both on the same page (and that they can clearly be heard).

Eye contact is still important with a video interview, perhaps more so, with a slight difference. Firstly, it’s going to be slightly harder to be fully engaged but you mustn’t let your eyes wander across the room in disinterest. Secondly, you mustn’t let your eyes remain fixed on your own projected image in a vain or self-conscious interest. Be sure you look at the speaker during their term of dialogue and try your best to look into the camera during your own. This will help the listener to feel more personally engaged and part of the conversation. 

Business man giving seated video presentation

Finally, allow for the other party to completely finish their current dialogue and then a further two-second delay before you jump into your next question or answer, as they may not have finished. It will create an awkward atmosphere to be constantly interrupting and talking over one another so be mindful and use the correct tone of voice when finishing a sentence.