Video interviews are growing in popularity with recruiters. They can be conducted live with a recruiter at the other end, for example using a video conferencing tool such as Skype or Google Hangouts, or you might record your responses to a set of online questions through your own PC, laptop, tablet or even your phone!
A pre-recorded interview is typically used at an early stage in the recruitment process, often replacing a telephone interview.
Types of video interview
1. Pre-recorded video interview
A recruiter invites you to complete your interview using their chosen host software. Software providers include Sonru and LaunchPad Recruits, which both provide further advice and information for candidates on their websites.
Once you’ve logged in (using details provided by your potential employer) you will have a set timeframe in which to complete your interview. There will usually be an opportunity to check that your microphone, speakers or webcam are working properly and to practise before recording your interview. This will allow you to check sound and picture quality as well as familiarise yourself with the process. The interviewer won’t see your practice recordings.
During the actual interview, the questions will be displayed on the screen and you will usually have a few seconds to read and then a separate time to record your answer, commonly 30-90 seconds. Note: the details are set by the recruiting company so the allotted times will vary.
You can normally control when you start recording each answer but once you have started there is usually no way to stop and restart the recording. If something goes wrong, solutions are often built in and the software should sort itself out. However, if you need technical assistance, the software providers have helplines available. Make a note of their contact details before you begin, just in case you need them.
2. Live video interview
This type of interview commonly occurs when you or the interviewer are unable to attend a face-to-face meeting. It can also save time for both the recruiter and candidate.
Apart from the fact that you are speaking remotely, it is usually conducted in the same way as a standard interview.
Preparing for a video interview
In both scenarios, the interview questions will be similar to those you might expect in a regular face-to-face or panel interview. Follow this link to view our advice on the different types of interview question you might encounter.
For a pre-recorded video interview, you will need to think more carefully about the length of your answers as there is usually a time limit imposed.
Warning: Don’t over-rehearse! It can be more difficult to display your personality in a recorded interview, and over-rehearsed answers can easily sound robotic or wooden.
Other things to think about include:
- Distractions – choose a location that limits distractions and interruptions. Turn off phones or other devices, put pets in another room and stick a note on your door. If you’re not using your phone for the interview, put it away.
- Background – ensure that the background to your video is not distracting. A plain wall is usually best, or Skype now has a ‘Blur my background’ toggle you could use. Try to keep anything personal out of shot so the interviewer can’t make any judgements based on your belongings.
- Lighting – your room should be well lit. Avoid having a bright light source behind you as your face will then be in shadow and more difficult to see. Watch this short YouTube video about ‘How to look good on a Webcam’ if you want more advice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMex-9FyljU
- Water – a dry mouth is a common side effect when you are nervous, so have a glass of water nearby.
2. Setting up your computer
- Internet – make sure you have a reliable internet connection. Have a plan B location organised just in case your broadband lets you down at the last minute.
- Test your equipment – check you have a working webcam and microphone (most laptops will have these built-in) and test everything before you start the interview. Aim to do this a few days in advance so you have plenty of time to sort out any problems.
- Instructions – if you’re interviewing through specific software, make sure you understand the instructions. Know how long you have for your answers, whether you can re-record, etc. The software provider’s website is often a useful resource for FAQs.
- Username – if you’re interviewing via Skype, and using a personal account, make sure your Skype name is formal enough for an interview situation.
- Camera position – aim for a head and upper body shot, with your camera slightly above eye level. Put your laptop on a box if you need to!
- Distractions – before the interview, close any programmes that might distract you with sounds or notifications on the screen.
If you haven’t experienced speaking over a video connection or seeing a recording of yourself before, you could start by simply recording yourself talking to a webcam. Note down anything that may seem distracting or unclear from the point of view of an employer listening to your answers.
You can also record and view your answers to interview questions on the following sites:
- Assessment Day – provides a list of common interview questions and allows you to record your responses and then play back and review them yourself. You’ll need to have a webcam and microphone connected to your PC or laptop, or allow access to your microphone and camera on your phone or tablet. You’ll also need Flash installed on your browser. The organisation will not have access to your recordings.
- LSE Careers also has a subscription to Interview Stream. This offers a database of interview questions across a range of sectors so you can create your own interview, record yourself answering questions and play back and review your responses.
We also offer the option of a practice video interview appointment with a careers consultant. Book a practice interview and then contact us to let us know you would like the appointment to take place over Skype.
4. Appearance and body language
- Dress as you would for a regular interview; smart business-wear is usually the safest option if you are unsure. Even though you might be at home, dressing smartly will help you to behave more professionally and find the right mindset for an interview.
- If you wear glasses, it might be a good idea to turn down the brightness on your monitor to minimise reflections.
- Avoid using notes if you can. If the interviewer sees you referring to them, they might assume you are underprepared or not committed to the interview.
You’ll find more information and advice about preparing for an interview here.
During a video interview
- Eye contact – to create an illusion of eye contact for the interviewer, look into your camera lens. However, in a format where you can see an image of the interviewer, e.g. via Skype, it can be useful to look at the screen from time to time in order to gauge the interviewer’s body language. Tempting as it may be, try to avoid looking at the picture of yourself that appears on your screen as you’ll seem distracted.
- Timing – in a pre-recorded interview, make sure you are aware of the time you have for each answer (it is usually displayed while you are recording) but try not to look at the clock too often.
- Posture – your posture should be relaxed but professional. Don’t slouch or lean too far back in your chair.
- Gestures – it is fine to use your hands to emphasize points you are making as this demonstrates enthusiasm and engagement, but try to avoid big gestures as they can be distracting for the interviewer.
- Vocalisation – speak loudly, clearly and more slowly than you usually would. If you’re interviewing via a video conferencing tool, there can sometimes be a short delay over the internet so try to take account of that to ensure you don’t keep interrupting the interviewer.
- Smile and be positive – as this will help you to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role and organisation. Smiling can feel less natural when you're not speaking to someone in person, so you’ll need to make an extra effort in a pre-recorded interview. It will come across in your voice.
- If anything goes wrong – be honest and let the interviewer know. If it’s a pre-recorded interview, you’ve clearly stated there is a problem so this can be taken into account. If it’s a Skype interview, it might be possible to reschedule – ask if you can exchange phone numbers with the interviewer at the beginning so you can call if your link goes down.