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The Ultimate Guide to Video Interviews


I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that most candidates (i.e. your competitors) are terrible at video interviews.

The bad news is that you’re likely in the same boat — but not for long.

Alex Andrei & Pamela Skillings bring you an in-depth guide for preparing for your next video interview.

The ability to shine in a video interview requires some skills and savvy beyond basic job interview best practices.

And now that more and more companies are using video interviews at some stage in the hiring process (60% or more, depending on which survey you read), you can certainly count on a video interview in your near future.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to properly prepare and stage every facet of the video interview to give you the best chance possible.

What’s the Big Deal About Video Interviews?

Some people feel perfectly comfortable with the idea of interviewing via video (including many of you who grew up with Skype and YouTube) and others dread the very idea (camera-shy folks, I’m talking to you).

This guide will help you if you’re too comfortable (and can come across as overly casual or unprofessional) or totally webcam-phobic (and can come across as stiff, nervous, or awkward).

We all know how important visuals are to forming a first impression (see – Inference of Attitudes from Non-Verbal Communication, Journal of Counseling Psychology Vol. 31 1967).

After all, attractive people reportedly get more job interviews and earn more money (shocker). However, even attractive and well-dressed candidates can mess up their video interviews if they’re not careful.

Luckily, a little bit of knowledge about the equipment and the process can go a long way. In fact, we’ll show you how to dramatically improve your video presentation with some basic attention to your webcam set-up.

Obviously, you’ll still need to be qualified for the job and answer the questions well (as always, Big Interview has you covered with that part of your prep).

However, these video interviewing tips and tricks will remove a controllable element from the decision-making process — preventing an interviewer from unconsciously discounting you based on how you appear on camera.

And honestly, don’t worry if you don’t like how you currently look on camera.

(If a little make-up and lighting can make the average politician look human, I’m sure you’ll be fine.)

Why are Video Interviews Used?

Companies see many benefits in using video technology to vet candidates. With a video interview, you have most of the benefits of seeing a candidate in person, but without the hassle/expense of actually meeting them (especially if someone would have to fly or drive to a different city).

It’s quick, it’s neat, and depending on the the technology used, allows the company some element of standardization of the interview process and candidate selection.

Staffing firm Robert Half did a survey in 2012 showing that 6 in 10 employers were using video to conduct job interviews (and by now that number most definitely grown a lot more).

Long story short — you need to prep for a video interview just as seriously as would for an in-person one.

Types of Video Interviewing

1. Live Video/Skype Interviews

The live video interviews can take one of two forms.

The simplest approach is that the company could use something like a Skype, Google Hangout, Zoom, Blue Jeans, or any one of the million video-conferencing tools online.

These are pretty straightforward since, in most cases, the interviewer will either send you a link or call your user-id / screenname.

Just be careful to clean up your Skype account and privacy settings if you’re going to use it with potential employers (your college account with ID stoner-yolo1993 does not inspire confidence).

Alternatively, the company could use a system that does live interviews, but also acts as an internal candidate tracking/screening tool (something like like HireVue, SparkHire, TakeTheInterview, and dozens of other companies).

From the candidate’s perspective, a live video experience via one of these platforms is generally not much different from interviewing via Skype or Google Hangout. On the employer’s side, there are bells and whistles that allow them to share, track, rate responses, etc.

2. Pre-recorded/Asynchronous Video Questions

In these cases, you’re given a link to a page where you can record answers to pre-selected/pre-recorded interview questions. You’re usually given a set amount of time for each answer, and you may get 1 or 2 tries before submitting.

These questions could be part of the application process or be a screening step after your resume has allowed you to rise above the crowd. Tools used for these asynchronous video questions include AsyncInterview, Wepow, Sonru and others.

To get a sense of the experience, just try out the Big Interview Practice Interview tool.

Keys to an Amazing Video Interview


Your Non-verbal / Body Language Considerations

1. Maintain good eye contact

We all know how important it is to make confident eye contact during an interview. This is much tougher to do via video.

When you’re speaking to someone via video conference, your eyes naturally want to focus on the face of your conversation partner. Depending on where that face is on your monitor and the location of your webcam, this can cause you to appear on-screen as if you are looking down or away.

You can avoid this by resizing and moving the window with the person’s video image. Move it up or as close to your webcam as possible. This will give the closest approximation to real human eye contact.

Now remember: there’s a fine line between good eye contact and the serial killer stare. Webcam eye contact can feel a bit awkward at first and a lot of people respond by over-compensating.

A good rule of thumb is that if someone can see the “whites” all around your pupil – then your stare is probably too intense.

Michael Ellsberg, author of The Power of Eye Contact has this advice:


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