Conducting video job interviews is not a new idea. Skype, for example, was first launched in 2003 but until recently, has only been used for interviews if necessary. As we all know, the use of video conference calls has become a necessity during the lockdown.

At the same time, companies have had to find new ways of handling the various stages of the recruitment process. Consequently, businesses that were keen to keep hiring readily adopted video technology as a substitute for traditional face-to-face interviews.

To help you perform your best in video job interviews, here is a handy guide that explains everything you ever needed to know! Firstly, we’ll give you a little bit of background that will help you understand why companies use video interviewing. Secondly, we’ll explain the different types of virtual interview you might find yourself in, and what to expect. Throughout, you will find useful video interview tips that will help improve your chances of getting hired.

There are many different options to choose from when considering interviewing by video. We have already mentioned Skype, which is a well-known telecommunications platform which enables people to connect in several ways. Zoom and Microsoft Teams are other popular cloud-based video conferencing platforms.

These kinds of video systems can be used one on one or by several people in different locations at the same time.

Candidate sitting at home with their laptop while the interview panel join in from different locations
Candidate sitting at home with their laptop while the interview panel join in from different locations
A panel interview is much easier to coordinate by video than face-to-face.

Live video job interviews are most common, and the set up is very similar to a regular face to face meeting. The only difference is that whereas in a standard interview, all attendees sit in the same room at the same time, by video call, attendees can be anywhere.

Here at Adria Solutions, we prefer to use solo video interviewing software. The main reasons we choose this is that it is the most straightforward and convenient system for candidates and clients to use. The following explains how easy solo interviews are:

  • Our client sends us a list of questions they want to ask candidates
  • The same list of questions gets sent to all competing candidates
  • We email candidates with a link explaining how to record your answers
  • You have complete freedom over when you complete the interview and email your response to us when you are ready
  • We then send the recording, along with your CV attached to the prospective employer

In the past, video interviewing has proved invaluable in situations where candidates live far away from the hiring offices. Being able to attend a virtual interview rather than in person can save candidates a great deal of money and time. Particularly, if the candidate lives in London, for example, and they receive an invitation to attend an interview in Manchester.

One of the main issues we face in recruitment is coordinating people’s diaries. This is particularly problematic in larger companies where a member of HR, the hiring manager, and of course, the candidate needs to be present.

The issue this presents, particularly with IT, Digital and Marketing roles, is that the diaries of creatives and developers often get booked up weeks in advance. So often, by the time the interview comes around the candidate has already accepted an offer for another job. This is hugely frustrating for the client and the recruitment consultant who then find themselves back at square one.

Overall, video interviewing provides several benefits over face-to-face interviews:

  • Eliminates the risk of spreading contagious illnesses
  • Speeds up the recruitment process
  • Dramatically reduces travel costs for candidates
  • Less stressful for candidates
  • Reduces time to hire for hiring managers
  • Less chance of employers (and recruitment consultants) losing candidates to their competitors
  • Candidates have less time to wait for an offer or a rejection
  • While the prospect can seem daunting, candidates often feel less nervous in a video interview than a face-to-face one
Lady having a video job interview
Lady having a video job interview
Video interviews are becoming more commonplace and can actually be less nerve-wracking than a real life experience.

Solo interviewing is fantastic for our clients because it gets around the issue of everyone having to be present in the interview at the same time. This speeds up the interview process massively because we don’t need to worry about coordinating everyone’s diaries.

Candidates love it too because they can complete a solo interview in their own time. This eliminates the problem of them having to book time off work which, in itself, can be stressful.

Additionally, solo interviews put decision-makers under less pressure because they are not present in the discussion. This means that hiring managers, HR and any other interested parties have more time to consider their decision.

Furthermore, solo video interviewing helps in cases where candidates may be more suited to another role. Under ordinary circumstances, a candidate is invited to a second round of questioning with a different hiring manager from the same company. However, videos reduce the need for this. Instead, the link to the solo interview can simply be emailed to whoever is in charge of the alternative role. If all parties are in agreement, it may only take a telephone interview for the new hiring manager to make their decision.

The main disadvantage of video interviews from the candidates’ perspective is that they don’t get to see their place of work. While the physical environment is not usually a dealbreaker for candidates, it is something to bear in mind.

Technical issues can also sometimes cause problems in the case of live video interviews. Weak signals and interruptions from other people or animals are also common disruptors.

Man venting frustration at his laptop
Man venting frustration at his laptop
There’s nothing worse than having a connectivity nightmare when you have a video interview.

Under normal circumstances, employers these days most commonly adopt a three-stage process which looks something like this:

  1. Telephone interview for the employer to assess the candidate’s suitability for the role
  2. Initial face to face interview which enables the hiring manager to identify the best possible candidates
  3. Second round face to face interview. This round usually involves more technical questions or a presentation of some kind

A video interview can be in place of any of the above interview stages. Many of our clients ask us to send solo video interviews along with a candidates CV. After which, they may only decide to have one further round of face to face interviews.

Candidates should do the same level of research into the company they are interviewing with as they would meeting at the office. If you are not sure how much preparation you should do, check out our previous article detailing useful tips for your job interview. In brief, you should always:

  • Research in the company and the person interviewing you
  • Prepare to answer both competency-based questions and technical questions
  • Have your own set of interview questions to ask the interviewers — remember interviews should be a two-way process

And for a video interview specifically, it is a good idea to have a trial run with the following in mind:

  • Obtain a laptop or desktop computer rather than relying on your phone
  • Tiny mobile screens make it is harder to see who you are speaking to
  • Connectivity issues are more likely on mobile
  • Test your webcam in advance
  • Consider your camera position
  • You should be able to make good eye contact without straining your neck or others being able to see up your nose!
  • Body language should feel natural so position yourself in front of the camera where you can maintain good posture
  • Eye-level is best, use books to raise your equipment to the right level, if necessary
  • Make sure the lighting is correct. Position lights behind the camera if possible
  • Declutter your surroundings to eliminate anything that might distract your interviewers. Nobody needs to see your floordrobe!
  • An ideal scenario would be to position yourself in front of a blank wall. This way, the only thing your interviewers have to focus on is you and what you have to say
Cluttered desk which nobody needs to see in a video job interview
Cluttered desk which nobody needs to see in a video job interview
If this is what your desk looks like normally, make sure you clear it before your video interview.
  • Choose the right environment, finding a quiet place, not in a coffee shop or library
  • Forewarn any family members or friends you live with. Ask them to take dogs or children for a walk and keep noise to a minimum. The interviewers need to be wholly invested in you, rather than distracted by what’s going on around you
  • Test your audio on a call with a friend. It’s imperative that you can hear the interviewers and they can hear you clearly
  • Check your internet speed. You’ll likely get a better connection via ethernet than WIFI

You should check what the company dress code policy is ahead of your interview. Many businesses have a casual dress code these days, although some will still expect you to wear formal attire for a face to face interview. If in doubt, this is something your recruitment consultant can help you with.

For video job interviews in particular, no matter what the company dress code is, avoid checks or stripes. The reason for this is that they can appear to vibrate on screen, known as a moiré effect.

It is also a good idea to avoid any noisy fabrics that create rustling sounds which may interfere with the microphone.

Striped tie rolled up against a contrasting striped shirt to demonstrate the moire effect
Striped tie rolled up against a contrasting striped shirt to demonstrate the moire effect
Stripes can look very cool but interference from the camera can make them look as though they are vibrating. For this reason, it’s wise to stick to plain clothes on video calls.

The kind of questions you can expect will correspond to whichever round of interview your video interview is replacing. For example:

The first stage interview, or telephone interview, lasts typically about half an hour. The questions you can expect at this stage are designed to eliminate unsuitable candidates from the process. To find out what kind of questions to expect during a telephone interview, check out our previous post on the subject.

The kinds of questions likely to come up in a second stage interview will vary according to the role. However, bear in mind that interviews at this stage usually last about an hour and the answers you give should include a lot more detail. You can find out more about what to expect in a face to face interview by reading this article.

If you are invited to a further round of interviews, it usually indicates that the hiring manager has identified more than one candidate that they are struggling to choose between. Therefore questions at this stage are likely to be more of a technical nature or may ask you to prepare a presentation.

If this is the first time you have ever taken part in a video interview, it is likely to be an experience that will push you out of your comfort zone. While we do always try to help candidates with any interview issues they have, this is one instance where we would strongly advise working through the struggles rather than opting-out of a video situation. We say this for several reasons, including:

  • It demonstrates your ability to adapt to change
  • You will show a willingness to try new ways of doing things
  • Presents a chance to prove how tech-savvy you are
  • If you receive a job offer, you may need to attend video interviews regularly, so this is an excellent opportunity to practice!
Young lady practicing video calls with her friends
Young lady practicing video calls with her friends
Looking confident during video calls is a skill like any other. Practice with friends and family until it feels natural.

In the case of a live event taking place, it is impossible to edit the interview without it being evident to viewers. This is because all interviewers and the interviewee is present in the same virtual room, with the interview happening in real-time.

In the case of a solo interview, if a candidate makes a mistake, they can start again. It is possible to restart either a single question or the entire conversation from the beginning.

However, it is essential to note that where a candidate has done this, the interviewer can see how many attempts they have made to answer the question(s). It is, therefore, highly advisable to practice in advance so that you are well prepared and can run straight through the questions in one sitting.

Yes, absolutely! Even before lockdown, several of our candidates have accepted offers after successful video interviews. Since the lockdown, almost all of the job offers made to our candidates have involved video at some stage.

When it comes to things you should never do in video job interviews, the list is very similar to things you should never do in any job interview. With the addition of:

  • Take for granted that your tech set up will work! Test it thoroughly in advance and give yourself ample time to obtain additional kit or make adjustments to your surroundings
  • Dress unprofessionally. However tempting it may be to wear pyjamas from the waist down, resist the urge! What you wear on the outside will affect your attitude on the inside. Dress smart, think smart
  • Invite pets or children to meet the interviewers
  • Have your mobile phone anywhere nearby
  • Set the camera at a weird angle

Although recent circumstances have seen video used more widely in the recruitment process, we predict that video job interviews will soon become the norm. Many clients who were previously reluctant to use video for interviews have since given positive feedback regarding the speed and money-saving aspects.

While the use of video may be a new way of doing things, it is more efficient than attending meetings in person. Adapting to this new trend is likely to open the door to more opportunities for all in future.

We hope you find this article useful. If so, please share it on social media where others can benefit from it too.

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