The smart applicant’s guide to the video interview


It’s no wonder video interviews are becoming more popular among employers. Apart from saving time, money and the general faff involved in inviting candidates to show up in person, teleconferencing is so sophisticated that recruiters can get an experience of interviewees that is almost as seamless as the real thing. Almost. Face-to-face and video interviews are different in several important ways, that any aspiring candidate should be aware of.

Body language

A video call may feel slightly less intimidating than being in the physical presence of an interview panel. On the other hand, it distances you somewhat from important physical cues and body language that you only pick up on in person. If anything, this calls for even more concentration and effort on your part if you are to make yourself stand out.

Controlling the space

Another thing that makes a video interview different is that you have some control over the ‘space’ in which it happens: your Internet connection, computer hardware and software will have some impact on the overall experience, as well as how you set up your half of the physical interview environment. Here’s how to set up a smooth video interview experience and leave as little to chance as possible:

  • Make sure all your kit works. Use your videoconferencing software to record a sound check of what they’re going to hear at the other end. Look at their webcam view so that your webcam is pointing at your head and isn’t too near or far away.
  • Record yourself talking to camera. Are you looking straight into the lens (in other words, ‘making eye contact’) or down at your screen? Do you come across as confident or a bit shifty? What do you do with your hands?
  • Take it a step further: do a trial run with a friend and get feedback about what signals you give off in a mock-interview situation. How does your overall body language come across? Do you sit back and cross your arms defensively or lean forward and smile? Is your voice too loud or too quiet? Do you need to speak more slowly? On such subtle grounds can interviews be blown, but make just the few necessary adjustments and you’re golden. A trial run also helps you get over any initial self-consciousness and disorientation if you’re new to video calling.
  • Find the right place to conduct the interview – one that is quiet, free of distractions, well-lit, and where you feel comfortable. Check that your background is clutter-free and neutral. Check your internet connection works well in that location, and then check it again - The stops and starts that a dodgy connection causes can really put you off your stride.
  • Dress for interview – even though you may be sitting at home, remember there’s a job at stake and you need to take the interview – and be seen to be taking it – as seriously as if you were being grilled at company HQ.  
  • Finally, if your Internet connection goes down when you are in full flow, don’t panic! It’s an occupational hazard of web-based technologies and interviewers aren’t going to blame you for it. Take a deep breath, reconnect and pick up again where you left off. 

From workSMART’s FAQ section on Job Interviews. Visit our Careers Advice section for tips and advice on how to find and apply for jobs, shape your career the way you want, and much more.

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