Video Interviews: Tips, Advantages (and Cheats)

We looked at 20 tips to perfect a video interview earlier this year, but with video interviews now set to stay, how can you actually take advantage of the video interview?

First off, make sure everything is set up. It helps your performance and helps your nerves. Quick check-list (covered in more detail here):

  • Check your Tech. Make sure you have the chosen software, download the apps/plugins you need, and that your camera/microphone are set with correct permissions.
  • Set-up your set up. Camera Height (level with the top of your head), lighting (no light behind you/enough light to see you – especially with Autumnal/Winter darkness). Professional, tidy uncluttered background in a quiet room free from distractions.
  • Know your name. Video software requires a name; use yours, not your children’s or an unprofessional nickname.
  • Steady yourself. Make sure your device/computer is fixed, not wobbling…and make sure your seat is fixed, not wobbling. Sit upright. Sit still. Don’t wave your arms.
  • Fuel (pt 1). Make sure your device/computer is plugged in, or at least fully charged.
  • Dress for success. Find the balance. Too formal can work against you, as can being too casual. No tracksuits or pyjamas. Plain clothes, no stripes, no patterns. Professional and clean.
  • Tell the World. Make sure family members/housemates know not to disturb. Phones & devices notification on silent.
  • Fuel (pt 2). Eat and drink before, don’t enter a video interview hungry. Warm drink to settles nerves; food to fuel the brain. 
  • Shine, don’t shine. Shiny skin reads ‘sweaty face’; video will make it far worse. Use matte make-up or a tissue on hand. Don’t be the sweaty guy.
  • Be the Early BirdLog in five minutes early, no more. Be settled and ready. Don’t be caught by surprise shouting to your kids/dog/mum to be quiet or picking your nose.
  • The eyes don’t have it. Remember to give eye contact, look at the camera, not the video footage. 
  • Project and shut up. Speak clearly, don’t interrupt. Important when face-to-face, critical with a time delayed video call.
  • Go big on small talk. Video calls will inevitably have informal ‘chatting’ to start, have interesting things to say….and practice the response to “How has lockdown been for you?”…you know it’s a dead cert.
  • Anticipate the questions. Same as a face-to-face interview. Anticipate the questions/know your answers. 40+ frequent questions here.
  • Close.  Thank the interviewer. Ask if there is anything they need from you, or that you can provide them with. Reiterate your interest. Ask about next steps. Bid them a polite farewell…..Don’t wave goodbye!


But before you panic about the increased stress and pressure of a video interview….they might just be easier, and be less stressful than face-to-face. Here’s why:

Reduce nervous time
Tracking people before an interview, heart-rates often start to increase over 2 hours before the interview time. Getting changed, calculating your journey time, getting to the interview venue ahead of schedule then sitting in an unknown reception area waiting for the inevitable.
……but with your Video Interview, getting dressed ready takes less time, you have zero journey time, zero unknown elements. Nerves will often only kick in as you sit down at your computer/device 5mins before the meeting start time.

No travel delays
Combined with the above, around 20% of my interviewees have some form of travel disruption. Trains/Planes being delayed, roadworks, unexpected congestion; all leading to the phone call warning of potential late arrival, the impact on your first impression, and the stress that goes with it.
……but your Video Interview has no transport concerns, no unexpected delays no unexpected travel stress.

No “Doctors Appointment”
Explaining an unexpected, last minute half-day away from work to attend an interview is never easy and will often arouse suspicion.
……but your Video Interview will not only be just the meeting time away from work, not the associated travel time, when you are working from home, the absence is usually undetected.

“Oh, Hello….what are you doing here…?”
Anyone interviewing with a business in a connected industry will be aware of the risk in being spotted in the firm’s reception; another source of heighten worry and nerves
……but with your Video Interview you are safe and private in your own.

Controlled environment
Interruptions, being too hot/cold, bright/dull lighting, sitting on an uncomfortable chair, personal space; these are all issues interviewees encounter which in turn knock their concentration or ability to perform to the best.
……but your Video Interview environment is under your control. You set the lighting, the temperature, the desk/table you sit at.

Comfort zone
We all like being in our comfort zone; we perform better when we are comfortable. When we are sat in someone else office, it is easy to have our confidence knocked.
……but your Video Interview, you are in your Kingdom, your comfort zone. You’re sat in your room, your favourite chair.


But here’s where you can turn it to your advantage. Video interview cheats/tricks….

Prompts on screen, and off screen

We always advise never to have your CV, or notes in front of you when you are interviewed…but a video interview is a different matter. Be smart about your set-up, and no-one can see you screen. You can have prompts, your CV, research findings all visible on the screen to assist you to convey the points you need to. Need more? Post-it notes near the camera with other prompts (e.g., STAR: Situation, Task, Action, Result: proven tool to aid answering experienced based questioning), or just reminders to smile and look engaged.

Control the impression given
Want to convey a particular impression? You get to control what your interviewers sees. How you come across, what you have in the background, how professional you appear. One candidate knowing their interviewer was a keen cyclist, made sure their bike was visible in the background of the video shot….over half the allotted 45 min interview was spent discussing cycling. Rapport built without trying.

Resource at your fingertips
We’ve already said video interviews enable you to be in your comfort zone, but it also means you can have whatever resource you wish to use at your fingertips. Whether it is showing a sales proposal, products, research documents, PhD thesis. Last resort, you even have Google at your fingertips to help.

10 facts about you
Any good interview will be steered towards you. Strengths/weaknesses, professional achievements (and mistakes), personality traits, your personal USPs. Think about them, write them down and have them on screen during your interview.

Video ‘drop out’
More extreme, and only suggested as a last resort,… but ever found yourself overcome with nerves and wanting to press ‘reset’? Or sat struggling to think of that perfect example? Tied yourself up in knots with an answer? Or worse, been really stumped with how to respond to a question? Turn video off, or even more extreme, dump the wi-fi connection – it’ll give you a couple of minutes to compose yourself whilst the call reconnects.

Good luck….!

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