How To Ace Your Video Interview

Picture by: Gabriel Beaudry

As innovation in all fronts comes along and companies internationalize, the video interview process is becoming increasingly more popular. From the companies’ standpoint, it’s a simple and effective alternative to a physical interview. To top it off, it’s both cost- and time-saving.

For these reasons, it’s going nowhere anytime soon.

There are 2 types of video interviews:

Live interview: It’s very similar to a traditional interview. It’s a usual video call between a recruiter and yourself.

Pre-recorded interview: Questions are pre-recorded and the recruiter will see your answers later on. There isn’t any interaction.

In most cases, you have about 30 seconds to read a question. Sometimes you’re given brief preparation time, sometimes not.

Then, you’re required to answer the question within a certain time limit, which usually ranges between 2 and 3 minutes.

When it comes to pre-recorded interviews, you’re expected to -as much as possible- imagine that you’re in a live interview. In my experience as a candidate, I found this dynamic so unnatural that I sort of turned into a robot with no enthusiasm whatsoever! 

Interviews, in general, are stressful. But video interviews are most feared because the interaction with the recruiter turns less human.

During a live interview, it’s more difficult to judge the non-verbal language of the recruiter and adapt accordingly. During a pre-recorded interview, you aren’t able to exceed a hard limit when giving an answer, let alone ask questions yourself!

All in all, quite a challenging endeavor. That’s why I’d like to share some tips to prepare efficiently and succeed with honors at your video interview 🙂 

Have a professional email address or Skype username

The recruiter will undoubtedly ask for your email address or Skype account for the arrangement of dial-in details. If your email is you’ll halfway out without even getting started!

I have to admit I’m guilty of this one. My Skype username used to extremely childish and ridiculous!

At the time, I didn’t realize the importance of having a professional email address/username. It may damage your entire credibility from the start.

Test your microphone and camera beforehand

Before your interview, record yourself talking (or singing if that’s your thing) in order to make sure that both the video and audio work as expected.

Not only will you be able to validate the correct functionality of your phone, laptop or PC, but you’ll also be able to spot subconscious gestures of your own that you want to avoid.

For instance, when testing myself, I realized that I was running my right hand through my hair a lot. Like 300 times per minute, as if I were in a shampoo ad. It was both distracting and annoying. I started working on correcting it immediately.

L’oreal. Because you’re worth it.

Besides testing equipment, rehearsing allowed to make tweaks to flaws that would be unnoticed otherwise.

Charge your device

This one’s very important. Make sure the battery of the device you’ll be using will last throughout the interview. It can be a defining aspect if you inadvertently drop the call in the middle of an interview for your dream job, as it shows your lack of preparation.

If possible, keep your device plugged into the electricity during the interview to eliminate this outcome altogether. 

Granted, it’s more critical if your TV shuts down in the middle of the Superbowl, but keep this in mind anyways!

Make sure you have a fast and reliable internet connection

It’s as important as making sure your device has enough battery. It shows your preparation and ability to anticipate unfavorable outcomes. If a video interview is already challenging enough, imagine one where you’re constantly breaking up or lagging behind. A bummer.

So how do you make sure you have a fast and reliable connection, you may ask? You can test the speed of your internet at It’ll render both a download and an upload speed. The internet speed recommended by Skype is 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps) for download and upload speed.

If possible, repeat the test in the same place in which you’ll be doing the interview several times throughout the day. It’ll give you a better sense of the reliability of your internet’s performance.

Get rid of distractions for you and the recruiter

Focus on both ends is key to success in the video interview. There are several actions you can take to avoid any distraction from manifesting:

Find a quiet place

Make sure you will not be disturbed, think of all possible outcomes. Your neighbor singing We Will Rock You from Queen in the middle of the video interview can ruin your chances altogether.

Close all irrelevant windows, tabs or apps

There’s nothing more threatening to your train of thought than a push notification, new email or instant messaging. 

To make this point clear enough, imagine you’re competing for a 100m race. You’re off to a great start, running like you never did before. You’re first and about to victoriously arrive at the end. The distraction from an unnecessary window or app is equivalent to another person on the side of the track making you trip before the end of the race.

So, no irrelevant notifications (and that includes the live updates of your favorite sport… Or the last sales on H&M).

Put your phone on airplane mode

This is obviously not possible if you’re doing your video interview from a phone, which leads me to yet another tip: As much as possible, avoid using your phone for an interview.

The screen’s too small and you risk other distractions. Use your laptop or PC instead. 

That said, the same consequences as my previous tip apply here. So, become unreachable through your phone while at the interview!

Dress properly

Dress as you would for a traditional interview. And yes, that includes your pants too! Don’t be elegant on your upper body and graceless for your lower one.

Besides the fact that doing so is very risky, dressing properly conditions your subconscious to be more deeply involved in your “role”, just like an actor. Hence, it allows you to better focus and be engaged in the interview.

Additionally, avoid wearing flashy colors, as those may be even brighter through a camera and generate distraction for the recruiter.

Have the perfect setting

Few things are as annoying and distracting as a terrible setting. Make sure you have a good enough lighting, avoid looking like you’re in a cave! If possible, sit in front of a window, nothing provides better lighting than our friend, the sun.

Also, set yourself up so that there’s a neutral background. Avoid standing in front of your Tailor Swift poster, a mountain of dirty dishes or a messy bed!

Have a pen, a notebook, and your resume

If you read me regularly, you’ll be familiar with how much I stress the importance of taking notes during an interview. A video interview is no exception to this rule.

It’s handy for a follow-up email, it avoids you forgetting any important aspects, it makes you look professional. So, be ready!

Have the recruiter’s contact details at hand

Issues are inevitable, if not actually pretty common. I experienced it myself, both as a recruiter and as a candidate.

Once as a candidate, I had a Skype interview scheduled, but the recruiter could not find my user and neither could I. After 15 minutes, she ended up calling me and we had a phone interview instead.

My advice: Don’t do what I did! Don’t be passive waiting for the recruiter’s call. Don’t assume that the recruiter is late and hasn’t shown up. 

Always ask for their contact details (email and phone number) before the interview so that you can contact them in case you feel like there’s an issue. Be proactive and don’t wait for the recruiter to call you. 

If they’re late, fine! They’ll apologize and you’ll start having the upper hand. If there was an issue, great! You helped proactively solve it and that tells a lot of you as a potential team member.

Take a few seconds before you answer

During a video interview, it’ sometimes difficult to perceive when the recruiter has finished their sentences, especially if the connection is weak.

So take 1 or 2 seconds before you answer in order to make sure the recruiter is done talking. You’ll avoid cutting them off and coming across as disrespectful or even boastful.

Be attentive to your body language

The video interview, given its remote nature, creates some sort of emotional distance between you and the recruiter. 

It’s always more difficult to create a bond via a video call, let alone through a pre-recorded video. It’s also more challenging to analyze the recruiter’s behavior.

Interaction is definitely going to be less smooth. Therefore, it’s essential to watch your non-verbal communication.

The trick here is to over-emphasize gestures that are in the benefit of the recruiter’s perception of yourself as a potential employee. You may be ultra-focused and interested in what you’re hearing or saying, but if your body doesn’t express it, you might as well not be paying attention at all.

Thus, sit straight, nod and smile regularly. Make sure the recruiter knows you’re taking notes when they’re speaking. Hold your pen in evidence of your attentiveness. And most importantly, look your interlocutor in the eye at all times, which leads me to my next tip.

Make eye contact (regardless of how awkward it can be)

Instinctively, regardless of whether it’s a live or pre-recorded interview, you’ll look at the screen when you’re speaking. However, you should be looking directly at the camera even it feels unnatural to you.

Since this is very counter-intuitive, practice several times beforehand so that you feel more familiar with looking straight to the camera.

The recruiter will have the impression that you’re looking at them in the eye. It might come across as a minor detail, but it can make a huge difference.

To wrap it up

When the interview is finished, thank the recruiter for their time and make sure you follow up with the highlights of the discussion. You can find samples for a follow-up email here.

I hope you found these tips useful and I hope they helped you prepare effectively for your video interview. 

Remember that there are 2 main objectives at this stage of the process: Portray yourself as a prepared, capable potential team member and create a bond with the recruiter.

Whether the encounter is live or pre-recorded, the recruiter is ultimately trying to understand YOU: The real person sitting on the other side of the screen. So lay back and be the best version of yourself, you’re going to do great!

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