A Short Guide to Winning at a Video Interview

So, you have an important interview to prepare for. More specifically, an important video interview. This is great news: you’ve made it through the first part of the employment process. You are one step closer to attaining your desired job or internship. The not so good news: video interviews can be intimidating.

Video interviews are becoming an increasingly important component of the employment process. Therefore it's important to give a great first impression in order to progress to the second round in-person interview.

It can feel awkward and unnatural to stare at a screen and respond to recorded questions. Especially if there is no person to interact with. This process, however, is quite common. So it’s about time we got down to the nitty-gritty of learning how to nail the video interview.

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1. Don't fidget

Touching your face or hair too often will indicate to your employer that you are nervous and uncomfortable. Body language and temperament shine through on camera. Moving unnecessarily, crossing your arms, twirling your hair or constantly touching your face are all signs that you are uneasy and not confident in your capabilities. Instead you should sit comfortably and relax your shoulders. Remember to place your hands quietly on the table in front of you or in your lap. Lean forwards slightly to show your engagement and maintain good posture. Additionally, check out this Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy on the importance of posture.

It is a good idea to pre-record yourself to determine if you are unconsciously making these mistakes.

2. Camera angle

Camera placement can make a big difference in a video interview. Too low an angle or too high a one will impact your professional look on camera. If you are using your laptop think about placing it on top of some books. A higher angle is better than a low one, but roughly at eye level is best. Moreover, placing the camera in front of you and at shoulder level is most appropriate. In any case, test your equipment beforehand.

3. Prep your surroundings

Make sure you are in a quiet environment where you are unlikely to be disturbed. That includes having pets interrupt you during the interview. In addition, ensure that your background in the video recording is appropriate. Unmade beds or messy bedrooms shouldn’t be visible! Use the space of your home office, if you have one.

 4. Dress appropriately

Dress as you would for a traditional in-person interview. Don’t fall under the false pretense that because it’s a video recording it's more casual and less important. In fact, choose your attire based on the job and dress accordingly. Think about the work atmosphere - is it formal or more casual?

5. Plan and be prepared

Most importantly, treat it as you would an in-person interview. Prepare questions, practice answering, research the job and company, and be ready to confidently respond.

6. Word selection

Recorded video interviews are often comprised of behavioral questions. For instance: How would you handle situation A or what makes you an appropriate fit for the company? These questions are broad and allow for a variety of responses. Therefore, the key is to be confident in your answers. Word choice plays an important part in this.

For example, “I believe I am a good fit for this job” could be better said by simply stating “I am a good fit because…”. Avoid using words that indicate a lack of confidence. Start your answers with affirmations of competence and always ground them in facts and examples.

7. Recover from mistakes

We all make mistakes, stumble, or hesitate when answering questions, it's totally normal. The most important thing to remember, however, is not to let a small mistake derail your entire interview. Your employer wants to see how you handle the mistake. That tells them much more about your capabilities than the small, probably insignificant, misstep you made!

Pause, recover and continue.

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8. Treat the camera like a person

Make eye contact with the camera (that means look at the webcam and not the computer screen). Moreover, be enthusiastic and stand out. Remember, you want your interview to shine above all the others. Being responsive and engaged shows your motivation better than blankly answering questions.

9. Practice video interview

Like everything, practice makes perfect. Don’t have the first time you answer a recorded question be the real interview. Practice recording yourself and watch how you act and respond on camera. Don’t doubt yourself or your capabilities. Stay calm, prepare properly and be confident!


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