Video Interview Tips for Candidates: How to Prepare

7 min read

By Ben Riley

CEO

Video interviewing hit an all time high over the last two years and despite the increase of use due the pandemic impact, video interviews are here to stay!

There are many benefits to video interviews for both candidates and organisations.

To faciliate video interviews as part of a recruitment process allows for greater flexiblity in finding suitable times for all parties involved, the convenience of being able to interview anywhere in the world!

It also helps speed up the recruitment process and allow activity to continue, even when this can't be done in person.

Below are 5 key tips to consider before your video interview takes place:

1. Dress like you're going in for a face-to-face interview

Even though you're not in a face-to-face interview, you're still representing yourself as a professional and you want to look the part. Not only will this make you look professional, but it will also help you get into the right mindset for the interview. But, make sure that you don’t overdo it, research the company that you are interviewing for and dress appropriately.

David Duggan, HVAC Business Consultant at CSG Talent, recognises the importance of dressing suitably during a video interview:

“It’s very important that your potential new employer sees you looking your best as this is the image that will leave a lasting impression long after the call has ended. It’s always advisable to dress smarter than you need to but be mindful to appear to have researched the company beforehand and replicate their style.”

2. Behave as if it’s a face-to-face interview

Like you would with a face-to-face interview, it’s important to understand exactly who will be involved in each stage of the interview process. Ensure you find out who will be attending the interview, and do some research on each person (if more than one) so you’re confident you can start to build a relationship with them, keep the conversation relevant and avoid being caught off guard with who is attending.

Unlike a telephone interview you cannot hide, your body language is extremely important for building a rapport with your interviewer. Although it will seem a little awkward try and build an emotional connection with the interviewer at the beginning of the call just like you would in a face-to-face interview. They will still be assessing you for culture fit within their business, so try not to forget the small talk. Ensure that you maintain good eye contact throughout the interview, try not to look at the screen and engage with the camera as if it was the interviewer. This will not feel natural so you might want to practice it beforehand.

Yasmin Bryant, CSG Talent Senior Consultant in FMCG, explains how building a great rapport with the hiring manager can be achieved through video:

“For me personally, the most important thing about a video interview is to be well presented, well prepared and most importantly practise polite etiquette. Examples include avoid talking over your potential employer, remember to carefully listen, don’t interrupt and ask relevant, direct questions – be careful to not repeat yourself. The best way to perfect this is to practice or role play with someone a few times before your scheduled interview. Always have a glass of water to hand - regular sips can help to avoid over-talking!”

3. Create an interview environment

Finding a suitable location is a key to a successful video interview, your camera wants to be at eye level, and you need to be sat with a professional posture not with your feet up on a sofa. Find a quiet, private, well-lit area, without any clutter in the background. If you are going to be sat with a window directly behind you then you will need to make sure that you don’t appear as a silhouette, you might need to draw the blinds.

The space needs to be free from possible interruptions, so remove any distractions that could draw your attention such as your mobile phone. A badly timed text message could throw your interview totally off course. Distractions also include people in your house (if you are calling from home) so ensure any other household members are aware they need to steer clear of the room you are in.

Pick your furniture carefully, if you use a swivel chair, for example, you might be tempted to sway from side-to-side as it’s a natural reaction to move – this can give off the impression that you appear nervous. Have a notepad and pen to hand so that you can refer to any points that might need to action following the interview.

James Carlill, Associate Director at CSG Talent, has experienced first-hand his clients deciding to use video conferencing and the need for the candidate’s environment to reflect their professionalism:

“Many of my clients have opt for video technology when interviewing candidates rather than meeting in person. It is crucial to be prepared for a video interview, even down to making sure the environment you’re interviewing in portrays you in a professional way. Preparation is everything, make sure in advance that all of your technology works to avoid any hiccups on the day!”

4. Check your technology

The technology can be one of the most frustrating parts of the interview process and can have a negative impact on you as an interviewee, for example, you might not be able to log onto the platform which might make you late for the interview – something you absolutely want to avoid.

One of the most basic things that can be forgotten is to make sure that whichever device you are using is fully charged whether that’s a phone, tablet or laptop. Check that your device is connected to a strong Wi-Fi connection and that the internet speed is going to be good enough for a clear video (you will need at least 1 Megabyte per second for HD video). If you are unsure on the your internet speed you can test it at speedtest.net

There are a range of different video software providers, so you will need to be aware which one will be used. If the interview is going to be conducted on Skype, for example, you will need to ensure that you have an account beforehand to be able to access it. If the interview is hosted on Zoom, Google, Hangout or a similar provider, you won’t need to create an account but you might have to download a plugin from your web browser. You can test this by clicking on the meeting invite before the interview.

Also, if you are giving a presentation ensure that the software that will be used supports a screen sharing function from the interviewees side. As a backup it’s always best to have the telephone number of the interviewer, just in case you are having issues with the technology so you can always get in touch with them.

“Ensuring you check your tech before the interview is vital for a good first impression. There are extra precautions you can take to make sure things run smoothly – you can improve your connection by using a wired Ethernet connection to the router rather than relying on Wi-Fi, make sure the microphone on your device is up to scratch by calling a friend via Skype or Hangouts first, if it isn’t then most headphones will have a built in microphone which you can use. Finally, check out the video platform that is being used, and again, test it with a friend or family member ahead of your interview.”

5. Enjoy the interview and take advantage

Although this might seem daunting at first, video interviews have a lot of benefits for the candidate. Firstly, you won’t need to worry about the stress of travelling to an unfamiliar location, and you will be able to take advantage of the process by having your CV to hand to relate to relevant experiences that you have had in your career.

Simon Gillibrand, Global Head of Minerals and Metals at CSG Talent, shares his thoughts on being prepared to ask questions and steer the conversation where appropriate:

“As much as the interviewer will guide the conversation, it should still be at the forefront of your mind to ask relevant questions throughout the call and raise discussion points where necessary; utilise post-it notes to act as prompts. If the company you’re interviewing for has just completed a project that you’re keen to learn more about, don’t be afraid to ask! At the end of the call be sure to ask about the hiring timeline and if there’s any tasks you can be doing now to help support their process.”

So, if you are attending a video interview, enjoy the process and utilise these tips to help make a lasting impression on your potential future employer. Your experienced CSG consultant can also provide you with more advice and direction on presenting yourself in the best way in your interview.