How to Nail a Video Interview in 2019: The Ultimate Guide

Tamara Gravelle
Tamara Gravelle  |  February 18, 2019

While some recruiters have been using video as a part of their hiring workflow for a decade, technological advancements have sparked interest in the technology, resulting in more people choosing to test it out.

The main appeal of video interviewing software is it helps automate low-value tasks, screening out people unable to do the job early in the process so recruiters can focus on hiring a qualified candidate as quickly as possible.

What is video interviewing?

Video interviewing is the act of interviewing for a job position through the internet and has become a major part of the recruitment process.

While the idea of completing an interview via video may seem like a nerve-wracking prospect for job candidates, it can be beneficial. For example, most people expect the recruitment process to be long, with some companies taking more than a month to fill one role. Video interviewing allows recruiters to complete interviews faster than traditional methods, meaning it won’t take as long for someone to get hired. Instead of waiting weeks to receive a job offer, imagine getting hired just five days after applying for the job. That’s exactly what happened when Hilton Worldwide, an international hotel chain, decided to try using video interviewing software.

There are many more video interviewing success stories recruiters are sharing with each other, which is why it’s becoming a major step in their hiring strategy. It’s gotten to the point where applicants should expect it in the recruitment process now.

While this technology may spark joy in some people, for others it can add more tension to an already stressful process. Part of the reason why has to do with fear of using the technology for the first time. Some job candidates even choose to not perform the interview because of this fear. The fact of the matter is recruiters see the benefit of using this software so it’s not going away any time soon. So, let’s try to calm that fear by going through the types of video interviewing software and how you can prepare for performing one.

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What are the different types of video interviewing software?

Many people may already have some experience using video interviewing software just by virtue of using free video calling systems such as Skype or Facetime. When someone first considers video interviewing software the first reaction is usually that it works like one of those systems. While that’s close to what live video interviewing does, it’s not the whole picture. Live video interviewing software has some extra features designed to help recruiters complete their job, but as an applicant, these features shouldn’t impact your experience with the software.

Live video interviews

Live video interviews let two or more people, the applicant and the recruiter or hiring team, speak to each other face-to-face without being in the same room. It’s currently the most popular type of online recruitment interview and is usually used as a replacement for the first in-person interview. Being offered the opportunity to perform a live video interview means you don’t have to travel into an office multiple times to complete different interview stages. Instead, you’ll be able to complete the interview with the recruiter from the comfort of your own home, using the internet, a webcam, and a microphone to communicate with each other.

Live interviewing benefits

Pre-recorded video interviews

There is another type of video interviewing software, as well: Pre-recorded video interviews, also known as one-way or on-demand video interviews. Although not as popular as live, pre-recorded interviews are quickly becoming the preferred replacement to screening interviews performed via telephone or VoIP provider. Instead of performing the interview with a recruiter on the line, an online system will show you questions one at a time and you’ll record your answers solo. Once complete, the system notifies the recruiter and they watch your recorded videos.

Pre-recorded-interviewsWhile there are some companies which choose to use either live or pre-recorded, many are now using both. Luckily, the tips below can be applied to both types so no matter which system you’ll be interviewing on, you’ll be prepared.

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13 tips to help you prepare for a video interview

A major problem many applicants have is thinking a video interview doesn’t carry the same weight as an in-person or phone interview. The technology makes some people disconnect from the process, which is the last thing you want to do if you’re hoping to land the job.

The best way to make sure this disconnection doesn’t happen is to properly prepare for the interview. The more time you invest in proper preparation, the more comfortable you’ll feel with the software and you’ll be able to appropriately consider the value of performing a video interview well.

The three areas you need to consider the most when preparing for a video interview is the hardware you’re using, what location you’ll be performing the interview in, and how you should present yourself on camera. The tips below will touch on each of these items, ensuring you’re able to prepare as much as possible for the task ahead.

1. Have access to the right hardware

When video interviewing was first entering the realm of recruitment, anyone who wanted to take advantage of it had to invest in additional hardware. Webcams and microphones had to be purchased and set up to run with your computer before you could even attempt to perform a video interview.

video interviewing hardware

Times have changed, though, and much of the technology commonly used day-to-day now features a built-in webcam and microphone. Most people will already have one of the four devices you need to complete the interview - a laptop, desktop computer, tablet, or mobile phone. As long as you have one of those options, you’ll be able to complete the interview. It’s always good to double check, though, just to make sure your device does have a camera and microphone built in.

2. Test your hardware to make sure it works

It’s not enough just to have a device to perform the interview on, you need to make sure it’s working correctly. Some video interviewing systems will send you a test page to run on your device before starting the interview to make sure it’s suitable. If the recruiter is using software which doesn’t include a test page, use your device’s own software just to make sure the webcam and microphone functions are working appropriately.

These tests should be completed at least 24 hours before your interview is set to start, so you have time to find an alternative if your hardware doesn’t work with the system.

3. Try not to use a busy internet connection

Having multiple devices or users on the same internet connection could cause a decreased internet speed, which may result in an interruption in video quality or sound during the interview. The best way to avoid this is by making sure you use an internet connection which doesn’t have many users connected to it. You can take it a step further by temporarily disconnecting all your other devices from the internet and asking any other person in the household not to use it while you’re performing your interview, but in most cases those precautions shouldn’t be necessary.

You should also make sure you have any other software or tabs which aren’t related to the interview closed so the device you’re using can focus all its power on the video interviewing software. 

4. Don’t hold the device during the interview

When making a video call on a tablet or cell phone, it’s not uncommon for the person to hold the device while speaking. While this is fine if you’re making a call to a family member or friend, it isn’t appropriate in a professional setting.

web-cam-interview-best-practices

Even the steadiest of hands will shift at one point or another during a 15-20 minute interview, and any shakiness could be a distraction for the recruiter or hiring manager watching the video. Instead, make sure you position your device on a stand so it will remain steady during the entire interview.

5. Turn off all notifications

 Before the interview begins, make sure you turn off Facebook notifications (and other types of notifications) on all your personal devices, including the one you’re using for the interview. The last thing you need is to have one of your devices interrupt the interview by making a noise to let you know a notification has been received, or to have one come up on your screen causing you to lose your train of thought while answering a question.

An easy way of turning off notifications is by turning on the Do Not Disturb function on your devices.

Do not disturb

Found in your device settings, Do Not Disturb will allow you to connect with the video interviewing software while stopping notifications from sounding or coming up on your screen.

 6. If there’s an echo, use a headset or earbuds with built-in microphone

One thing you should listen for while testing your device is if you hear any echo. While you won’t have this problem with the majority of rooms in your home, open spaces may cause your voice to echo, which won’t only be a distraction but could cause some some sound distortion.

You can find a different room to perform your interview in if this is the case, but the easiest option is to use a headset or earbuds with a microphone. The microphone will limit, if not eliminate, the amount of echoing in the room, picking up only the sounds closest to it.

7. Complete the interview in a bright area

 If it’s too dark, it will be difficult for the camera on your device to pick up your image. The picture may become blurry or the video may cut out because the webcam is searching for more light. If you think the room is too dark, it probably is. You should either add some additional lighting through lamps or opening curtains, or move to another brighter location.

To take it a step further, make sure the wall behind you is a dull, light color as that will reflect any additional light instead of absorb it, allowing the recruiter or hiring manager to see you clearly.

8. Tidy up your space

A recruiter will notice if there’s a pile of laundry behind you or the punk rock band poster on the wall. In fact, anything in the frame that isn’t your face can be a distraction for anyone watching your video interview.

To ensure the focus stays on you, it’s best to choose a location with your back to a blank wall to perform your video interview. If this isn’t possible, make sure you clean up the area behind you and try to limit the amount of open space anyone watching your video may see.

9. Keep pets and people away

The last thing you need happening during your video interview is have your cat jump up on your lap or your roommate walk in wearing their housecoat. An incident like this may be funny for a few seconds, but also shows a level of disrespect for the interview. It can be a major distraction for the person on the other side of your video.

Before the interview begins, lock all your pets out of the room and tell any other person in your home what you’ll be doing so they’ll know not to interrupt you until it’s over.

 10. Make ‘eye’ contact

Most webcams are positioned at the top of a screen, looking down at the person it’s watching. The result is that staring directly at the screen usually makes it look like you’re looking down or have your eyes closed. Even though you’re doing a video interview, eye contact is still an important part of presenting yourself in a professional manner.

To accomplish this, you should look at the webcam instead of the screen when speaking. When the recruiter is asking you a question or if you’re reviewing a document together, it’s OK to look at the screen. Any other time you should have your eyes on the camera. 

11. Dress for the job you want

Even if you position the webcam so it only shows head and shoulders, a recruiter will still notice if you’re wearing an old college sweater to your video interview. The adage “dress for the job you want” is relevant for any interview, especially video interviews. 

Dress well for an interview

Do some research on the company to see if what their culture is like and if they have a dress code, then make sure you adhere to it. If you can’t find any information, it’s always a good idea to go with traditional business attire. Make sure you professionally dress the bottom half of your body, as well. You don’t want to unexpectedly stand up and have your shirt tucked into gym shorts instead of a professional pant or skirt.

12. Calm your nerves by practicing

For some people, doing a video interview will be the first time they use video calling technology. A job interview on its own can be nerve-wracking, but if you add video to it when you haven’t used it before, that could cause some extra anxiety. The best way to get comfortable is by practicing. You can record yourself with some of the built-in software your device provides, or start using video calling features to talk to friends and family. If these options aren’t possible, you can also practice in front of a mirror, which will replicate what the recruiter will see in the video.

By getting yourself comfortable in front of the screen, you’ll be less nervous when it comes to the interview.

13. Act like you would for any interview

Just because you’re performing a video interview doesn’t mean you can be less professional. These interviews are often replacing either a screening or a first in-person interview, and should be treated as such as if you’re performing one of those interviews.

Be professional, smile, and make sure you’re using open body language. If you have small personality traits such as speaking with your hands, do it, just be careful about hitting the screen. Part of the reason why recruiters use video interviewing is to get a feel for your personality, so make sure you show it.


Video interviewing software helps you get hired faster

Video interviewing software has advanced significantly in just a few years and will continue to do so in the future. More organizations will be realizing the benefits of using a video interviewing system, as well, until it becomes an expected part of the recruitment process. All this to say video interviewing isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s better to adjust your technique rather than try to fight it.

While it may seem scary the first time you perform a video interview, be it live or pre-recorded, our increasingly technological world is becoming more accustomed to communicating via video. The more you see it in the real world, the more friendly it will seem when it comes to job interviews. Until that happens, job applicants should utilize the tips above to ensure success when completing a video interview. 

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Tamara Gravelle
Author

Tamara Gravelle

Tamara Gravelle is a Senior Content Writer and Competitive Research Analyst at VidCruiter. She specializes in writing about video interviewing software, HR technology, and the greater human resources industry. She tweets at @VidCruiter