How to prepare for a video interview
Advice from our partners Search Consultancy on how to prepare for a video interview.
Recent years have seen major changes to the way we work. One major change is the rise of remote working. In tandem with this trend, many employers are using video interview technology in recruitment. More and more people are working from home, as old misconceptions dissipate. Like remote working itself, video interviews are proving to be both practical and convenient, even speeding up the hiring process.
If you’ve never done a video interview before, you might be a little unnerved by the prospect. But our view at Search is:
“If you’re looking for a new role and you’re not being asked to video interview by recruiters then you really should be asking, ‘why not?’”
You can learn a lot about a potential employer from whether or not it uses video interviews: one that does is more likely to be forward-thinking and dynamic in general.
Video interviews have their quirks, but on the whole they’re not all that different from ordinary face-to-face interviews. You’ll be discussing much the same stuff: your employment history, your suitability for the job in question, and so forth. Nevertheless, there are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind. After all, since video interviews are here to stay, we’ll all need to get used to them.
At Search, we’ve been leading the way in adopting new tech as the wider world of work continues to change. So, to help you out, we’ve assembled this handy video interview guide, offering you our expert advice on how to prepare for yours. If you’ve got a video interview coming up and you’re looking for tips, here are five of the best.
1. Dress for the occasion
Even though you’re doing an interview remotely, you still need to make sure you dress the part. As with any other interview, first impressions are of the utmost importance - and your choice of attire will convey important messages about you. Firstly, it’ll indicate how well organised you are, and how engaged you are in general. A dishevelled look will give your prospective employers the idea that you’re either not committed to the job or that you simply haven’t given much thought to how it might make you look. Either way, it’s not good.
In addition, your choice of outfit will suggest to your potential employers whether or not you genuinely want the job. You should dress, therefore, as you would for any other job interview. Dressing smartly should also help you to maintain your concentration, and help you stay focused. But there’s another factor to consider: how will your outfit look on screen? A plaid or striped shirt, for example, could look a bit busy and distracting to the people on the other end. A plain grey or light blue shirt might be a safer choice.
2. Make sure you know the format of your video interview
You might not know this (especially if you’ve never been interviewed remotely before) but video interviews can take different formats. There are two main types of video interview: live and pre-recorded. The former is essentially the same as a normal face-to-face job interview, only done by video link. Video interview questions are posed and answered in real time (there might be a slight delay, of course, so be prepared for this). The second type of video interview requires you to record answers to questions which are themselves pre-recorded or written in advance.
Live interviews are by far the more common of the two, but it all depends on the employer. You therefore need to make sure you know which format your interviewer will be using in advance of the interview itself. Normally, they’ll tell you themselves without prompting, but if they don’t, it’s a good idea to clarify. This will help you prepare for the interview more effectively, as it’ll give you some idea of what to expect.
3. Test your video interview tech in advance
Anyone who’s had any experience at all of using computers will already be aware that lots can go wrong with them. This is why it’s a good idea to make sure in advance that everything you’ll be using for your video interview is in full working order. It’s not a fool-proof guarantee that everything will run smoothly on the big day, of course, but it does at least reduce the chances of any avoidable technical mishaps. Arrange a video call with a friend prior to your interview and see whether everything works properly.
Be sure to test any software you’ll be using for your interview (most commonly Zoom, but Skype and Microsoft Teams are also often used) as well as the hardware - so that’ll include your webcam, microphone and your headset if you’re planning to use one. Ensure that your laptop is fully charged before your interview; if you can keep it plugged in then that’s better still, but you must think carefully about where you’ll be doing your interview.
4. Choose a quiet spot with plenty of light for the video interview
This isn’t something you’d normally have to think about ahead of a job interview, but when you’re preparing to do a video interview, you have to consider where’s best to do it. You’ll need to find somewhere that’s reasonably quiet, and where other people (hopefully) won’t burst in on you midway through your interview. In addition, you need a spot that offers plenty of natural light, so that your interviewers can see you clearly.
If there’s not much natural light, then use a lamp and play around with its placement until you’re satisfied. Again, you could hold a video call with a friend or relative before your interview, and ask them whether they think the light looks okay.
5. Be ready and prepared for your video interview
Preparation is the key to success in any interview, but it’s particularly important for video interviews. For most of us, remote interviews are a new experience. With that in mind, set yourself up 10-15 minutes before your interview is due to start. Run through any key points you want to mention or any questions you want to ask. It’s okay to have some notes by your side, but don’t be overly reliant on them - your interviewers will be able to spot it if you’re reading from a script, and it’ll count against you.
Need more help around how to prepare for your next interview?
Hopefully, these tips will stand you in good stead for your video interview, but if you need some more help and guidance, check out our complete interview preparation guide.