Is your next video interview just around the corner? Are you wondering how to prepare for video interviews?
Fret not for this detailed guide will help you understand the nuances of video interviews, while also covering types of digital video interviews and technical interview questions. You'll find actionable video interview advice and technical interview prep tips to ace your next big interview!
Stick with us till the end if you want to give yourself the best chance!
To put it plainly, a video interview (also often referred to as webcam interview, online video interview, video screening interview, and digital video interview) essentially refers to a remote hiring interview conducted via video technology and tools.
Although the concept of "video interview" isn't anything new, it has undoubtedly taken the front-seat during this pandemic when we're all working from the safety of our homes. In fact, today, video interviews or webcam interviews have emerged as a commonly preferred interview technique in the hiring process. According to the latest stats, the number of companies using video interviews to recruit new employees rose by 67% since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us. Not just that, nearly 150% of candidates depicted a keen interest to digitalize their CV using video technology.
In light of the increasing importance and popularity of digital interviewing, it would help if you're better equipped to appear for a webcam interview.
A company may either conduct a live video interview or opt for a set of pre-recorded questions for candidates to answer.
Live video interviews are conducted between the interview and you in real-time. In this sense, it is very much like a regular face-to-face interview, the only difference being that live video interviews occur via video meet software like Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Montage, Spark Hire, and Jobvite, to name a few.
Usually, video interviews work something like this - the interviewer sends a link via email or directly calls your user ID. Both the interviewer and candidate connect using hardware tools like webcam, laptop camera, and microphone/headphone.
Tip: You could ask the interviewer about the video tool they're going to use for the video interview. This will help you get acquainted with the software tool's intricacies and be better prepared for the video interview.
Pre-recorded or asynchronous video interviews include a set of pre-recorded (video) interview questions that demand answers from candidates in video format. Contrary to live video interviews that happen in real-time, asynchronous video interviews do not require the interviewer and candidates to be present at a scheduled time - once the interviewer sends in the interview questions, you can record your video answers according to your convenience. This model is highly flexible for both parties.
This is how asynchronous video interviews work:
Pre-recorded video interviews are a popular screening method as it allows recruiters to filter candidates at the early stages itself.
1. In-office video interviews
As the name suggests, in-office video interviews occur in the recruiter's office space, wherever the location may be. In-office video interviews have a set decorum. So, you must follow the standard protocol, which includes preparing well for technical interview questions, dressing appropriately, arriving early at the interview location, and maintain a polite and professional stance.
For in-office video interviews, candidates are seated in a room where the video interview setup is already arranged. The video interview equipment consists of a camera, headphones (preferably with a built-in microphone), and a good Internet setup. For any assistance (if the Internet connection is poor or if you need water, etc.), you can always ask for help from the interviewer/office staff.
2. Remote video interviews
Sometimes, recruiters conduct video interviews outside of their office location. These are remote video interviews. You can choose a convenient place where you'll face minimal disturbance for the interview. A laptop (with camera) or a PC with webcam attachment, headphones (with built-in microphone), and a reliable Internet connection are mandatory for a remote video interview.
Tip: It's best to choose a quiet place that's not frequented by people. Avoid communal spaces or cafes/coffee shops.
3. In-person vs. video interviews
In-person interviews and video interviews both have their advantages and limitations. For long, face-to-face interviews have been the norm, and they're here to stay. In-person interviews allow recruiters to gather in-depth information about potential candidates while maintaining eye contact and studying their body language. Plus, recruiters can elicit spontaneous answers from interviewees during in-person interviews. When all the dots are combined, in-person interviews give a more comprehensive idea about a candidate's potential and personality.
Coming to video interviews or digital video interviews, they have emerged as one of the most extensively used interview and screening methods by organizations worldwide. Video interviews are comparatively less expensive than in-person interviews and also allow for high flexibility for both parties. You need not spend money and time to travel to the interview location - you can do it from your preferred location. Since video interviews do not put you on the spot (and because you're in your comfort zone), you are in a relaxed position to answer the interview questions.
The bottom line - in-person interviews and video interviews will always be the two core interview techniques. As each method comes with distinct advantages, we cannot draw a strong demarcation line between the two.
Here are three things you must be mindful of while appearing for a webcam interview:
1. Prepare as you would for an in-person interview
After all, a video interview is just like an in-person interview, only that you need not be physically present before your interviewer during the interview. Thus, it is crucial to prepare yourself like you would if you appeared for an in-person interview.
Do your homework and try to find out what the company looks for in a candidate for specific job roles. Apart from the company website, news articles and press releases are excellent sources of information. Try to go through the most commonly asked questions for the job profile in question. Prepare witty solutions (but actionable ones) and anecdotes (best if drawn from real life).
Also, work on your posture and way of speaking. Be a good listener, and always look out for non-verbal clues. This will help you figure out what the interviewer wants from you.
2. What to wear for a video interview?
When it comes to dressing for an interview, be it an in-person interview or a video interview, you must dress professionally. This is where your research would come in handy - once you have good knowledge about the company's office culture, you'll know how to dress to impress.
Opt for subtle colors (nothing too bright) and neat patterns. Keep your accessories to a minimum. If you choose to wear a tie, go for a solid color and not a printed/patterned one. Position your camera in a way that captures only the top half of your body (waist up). The camera angle should be such that your face remains the focal point. As for bottom wear, we advise you to keep it simple and appropriate (think what you would wear for an in-person interview).
3. Be wary of your body language
Body language is pivotal during an interview. Recruiters expect candidates to be confident and professional. Most importantly, maintain good eye contact with the interviewer to establish a human connection during a digital video interview.
During the video interview, try to keep an optimistic mood and exude confidence in your body language. Sit straight with your shoulders open and place the palm of your hands (on top of the other) on your lap. Although you shouldn't be afraid of using hand gestures while answering, do not overuse it - keep your movements close to your body. Do not fidget or drift your gaze away from the screen.
Tip: The best way to maintain eye contact is to look at the webcam/camera while answering or talking to the recruiter. When you do this instead of directly looking at the interviewer on the screen, your eyes align better with the interviewer's eyes on the opposite end. However, when you're listening to the interviewer speak, you can look at the screen.
Yes, you can use a smartphone/tablet camera for a video interview, provided the camera is high resolution. Often, mobile cameras are very tricky with lighting. You want to set the camera lighting settings at auto-adjust mode. This allows the camera to adjust to the ambient light setting automatically. Make sure the camera app will enable you to reset the screen's focus with a single tap.
Since it's not recommended that you hold the phone camera during the interview, you need a kickstand, or tripod, or any other support system that can support your phone/tablet all through the interview.
If you plan to appear for the video interview via your smartphone/tablet, check the optimal camera level to ensure that it can capture your face from a flattering angle - the camera should be at your eye level. Test the setup with a friend/family member before the actual interview.
As we mentioned earlier, you must remember that a video interview is not very different from an in-person interview. These tips should help you in your video interview preparation:
Research about the company
Before you appear for a digital video interview, it is of utmost importance that you conduct thorough research on the company. Try to find out about the company and its goals, vision, and objectives. Also, gather as much information as possible about its senior executives from their LinkedIn, Twitter, or any other social media channel. Finally, gain in-depth knowledge of the role you're interviewing for - what the job entails, required qualifications and certifications (if any), skills, etc.
Get acquainted with common interview questions
The Internet is replete with several resources on various job profiles. So, you should be able to find the most commonly asked interview questions for your profile. Prepare for both technical interview questions and non-technical ones as well. Try to find materials like Google phone interview questions, Amazon phone interview questions, Netflix phone questions, etc.
Perform a mock interview
A mock interview session is one of the most beneficial tools for interviewees. You could prepare a set of the commonly asked questions for your profile (from the previous step) and request a family member or a friend to pose as the recruiter. This session will help you understand your strong points and weak links. A mock interview aims to help you better prepare for facing the interviewer. You could record the interview session to watch later.
Video interview setup
Here's how you can create the perfect setup for your upcoming online video interview:
Choose the perfect background
Your background should be clutter-free and neutral. It's great if you can find a location with adequate natural light and minimal disturbance (best if there's no background noise). Remove any distractions from the background. If you appear for the video interview from home, isolate yourself in a room.
Test the lighting
Test different lighting conditions and find out which light setting works for you. Ensure you're facing the light source (if the light is behind you, there are high chances that it will create shadows).
Use a reliable Internet connection
Make sure to check your Internet connection. Set everything (WiFi, adapter, etc.) beforehand so that there are no connectivity issues during the interview. Test your Internet speed and keep a backup plan ready (you could get a day's data pack for your phone for emergency).
Find the perfect camera angle
If you have a good laptop camera (for instance, MacBook), you're good to go. However, if you have the budget, you can get an external webcam as they generally have much higher image quality. Position the camera slightly at a downward angle but above your eye line.
Use a high-quality microphone
It's a good idea to invest in a good headset with a built-in microphone. Noise-cancellation headsets are best since they reduce any ambient noise and enhance the richness and depth of your voice. Do a sound check with a friend/family member.
Clear your computer
Make sure your PC or laptop is clutter-free with no extra apps or webpages draining the battery. Do not keep multiple tabs open during the interview as it may disrupt the Internet speed.
Tips to ace a video interview
By now, you must have a fair idea of the basic dos and don'ts for an online video interview. The following tips will further help you ace a video interview:
Test your technology
We cannot stress this point enough! Before the interview, it helps if you test out all your gadgets and technology setup. This includes your computer, Internet connection, video interview gear (camera and headset), lighting, software tools (if any). Always keep backup options ready. For instance, don't rely on one computer - keep another one prepared to support the interview if anything goes wrong. Keep your devices fully charged.
Calm your nerves
You must be calm and composed for your video interview. If you tend to get nervous or fidgety, remember, it's an interview - you're only going to talk to another person about your hobbies, skills, qualifications, and interests. Think of the interview as a conversation with a new acquaintance, and probably it won't seem as challenging anymore. Put in your best efforts, be yourself, and you will make it through the interview!
Work on your posture and communication skills
It is pivotal to maintain a professional posture throughout the online interview. Your body language should communicate that you're a confident, smart, and well-prepared candidate who deserves the job. In addition to that, work on improving your communication skills, pronunciation, etc.
Get into a chatty and jolly avatar
Job interviews don't mean that you must be serious at all times. You must be able to talk freely, smile, and take constructive criticism like a professional. Try to maintain a positive energy level and cheerful attitude during the interview. Enthusiasm for the job and the right attitude can go a long way in helping you land the job.
Practice, practice, and practice some more
Make it a point to practice your answers in front of the camera or a mirror. Create different scenarios and challenges for your practice sessions and see how well you can tackle those situations. You can never go wrong with practice!
Dress head to toe
Yes, this is an absolute must! Although the camera will capture you from the waist up, you must wear the appropriate bottom wear. Any situation might present itself wherein you have to get up or stand from your seat. So, it's best to be prepared.
Close the video interview by sharing your appreciation
Before you sign off and leave the interview, put in a word of appreciation for your interviewer. For example, you could say something like, "Thank you for having me. I'm very grateful for this opportunity." Kind words always help make a positive impact on people.
No matter how well you prepare for your digital video interview and how well you've checked your interview setup, anything can go wrong. But there's no need to panic. You can handle any situation with a calm mind. Here are three scenarios to help you understand what could go wrong during a video interview:
This could happen to anyone. However, you can easily combat this situation. Before the scheduled video interview, ask the interviewer for a phone number where you can reach them in case of technical difficulties. If you have a backup number, you can call the interviewer at that number and let them know about your situation. You can ask if the interview can continue via phone or if you can reschedule it.
While you can choose the perfect background for the interview, you can hardly control external factors. For instance, roadside noises (sirens, public announcements, construction noises, etc.) can disturb the video interview process. The first thing you need to do is apologize for the interruption. You can ask the interviewer to excuse you for a little while and keep your microphone on mute. Once the noise has subsided, you can continue with the interview again.
It may happen that a family member, or housemate, or pet unknowingly enters your room during the video interviewing. Again, the right thing to do here is to apologize for the disturbance and ask to be excused for a few minutes. Then you can go to deal with the situation by switching off your camera and putting the microphone on mute. You could lock the door to prevent this from happening again. Once the issue is set right, you can resume the interview by apologizing again.
With that, we come to the end of our video interview preparation guide. Video interviews are no rocket science. If you have the right qualifications, skills, and domain knowledge, keeping these simple video interview preparation tips will help you land your dream job.
All the best!