Career

How To Nail A Video Interview

As technology continues to develop and proliferate the workplace, the video interview is starting to gain a presence in the recruitment scene, either as a way to shortlist candidates or in lieu of in-person interviews altogether.

“Video interviews are there as your elevator pitch. It gives the recruitment team a chance to see your personality and how you can handle a challenging situation all at once, while reducing their time to hire,” says manager of DeakinTALENT’s Graduate Recruitment Services, Gavin Walker.

But just because there’s no human interaction doesn’t mean it’s any less intimidating. In fact, mastering a video interview requires a whole new set of skills and techniques.

“Whether it’s live or not, it’s a really difficult medium to come across well in,” Grad Mentor founder Alisdair Barr says.

So if all that’s standing between you and your dream job is a video interview, here’s our guide to nailing it.

Control your scene

You have complete control over what your potential employers are seeing, so make sure every pixel of the screen is there to make you look like the better applicant.

Barr says to treat video interviewing as professionally as you would a face-to-face interview. So it goes without saying that professional attire is an absolute must, as well as appropriate body language.

It’s also super important to consider the background you’ll be filming against. Take note of the better angles in the room you’re recording in and adjust accordingly, taking into account both the view and lighting. You also want to make sure the camera is steady, and frames you so that the camera is at eye level, and your shoulders are in shot.

“When you sit there looking at a laptop, your head goes down. So elevate your laptop up to eye level so you’re looking straight.” Mr Barr suggests.

It’s also crucial that your video is properly lit, your audio is recording, and your internet connection is sound, so ensure you test out your equipment prior to recording.

“If you go in there and you haven’t tested [your audio recording], and the interview is being recorded and no one can hear it, then you’ve definitely failed,” Barr says.

Consider your answers

Once you have everything set up, next comes giving your answers. Make sure you’re prepared for each question by reading it carefully, because they may not all have the same response time, or you may be caught recorded when you’re unprepared. Some will naturally be more important than others, too, and thus deserve more response time.

“Read each question and required response in detail,” Walker says. “Some of your responses [may] only give you 30 seconds to think of your response. Others will start immediately after you have completed reading the question. Attention to detail is key.”

Mr Barr also says that video interviews typically ask behavioural questions, so be sure to have some examples from previous work experience in your back pocket.

“A situational behavioural interview question will be related to customer service, teamwork and time management,” he says. “You can pretty much guarantee you’ll be asked a question around those scenarios.”

Control your tone

It’s also important to make sure you’re addressing your viewer appropriately. Too casual and you look unprofessional, but too polished and you miss the aim of video interviews altogether.

Walker also suggests talking in a casual tone, as if talking to a peer. But whatever you do, don’t overly script your answers.

“[Scripted responses] are so easy to spot,” he says. “Putting a post-it note or sticking a short script to your screen is easy to spot and you will be marked down. Be authentic and deliver your response as if you are in front of the interviewer. They use this snapshot of you to see your personality, so let yourself shine and don’t read something you prepared beforehand.”

Maintain eye contact

As off-putting as staring into the abyss of a camera lens can be, it’s essential in a video interview to maintain eye contact with the camera. Staring off screen or at your screenshot will only cut your audience off and won’t make for an engaging viewing experience. 

“You have to look at your computer screen like it’s a person, and engage with it like it’s a person.”

“You have to look at your computer screen like it’s a person, and engage with it like it’s a person,” says Barr.

“It’ll up the level of how it’s received, because [eye contact is] far more engaging than someone who’s talking to a computer screen.”

Take mistakes in your stride

Though timed responses can be challenging, tripping up doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the line. Use any mistakes you make as an opportunity to turn around and persevere.

“Remember that recruiters are people too and won’t expect every answer to be 100% perfect,” Walker says. “If you make a mistake or give a poor answer, pick yourself up and show you can pull yourself together for the next question.”

Job interviews are a necessary evil, but as technology plays a bigger part in recruitment, we may not always have to do it face to face.

“In a shrinking world, where working at home or in regional or remote locations is becoming the norm, video technology is being used more and more, therefore employers need to know you will be comfortable with it, so it is here to stay.” Mr Walker says.

If you find yourself required to submit a video interview, try some of these tips to make sure you’re sending the best version of yourself you can. Also check out these tips to succeed in any job interview.


Kim is a freelance writer based in Melbourne. Her work has been featured in Junkee, Archer Magazine, Global Hobo and more. She’s also a regular contributor over at neutral.love, which works to break down stigmas surrounding sex and relationships. When she’s not writing, she’s sitting at home bullet journalling. You can tweet at her @mirroreyedgazer.