The best of both worlds, a Skype interview gets you face-to-face time with an employer while still allowing you to feel relaxed in the comfort of your own home. Because there are a few ways that a video interview varies from a traditional in-person one, you’ll want to prepare differently.
Jump to a section:
- What is a Video Interview?
- Solo Video Interviews
- Conversational Video Interviews
- Dressing Professionally
- Using a Headset
- Preparing Beforehand
- Being Aware of Your Body Language
- Using a Cheat Sheet
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What is a Video Interview?
A video or Skype interview is a fairly common first step in the modern interview process. Just like a phone interview, they’re an easy way for recruiters to gauge your interest in a position, see if you’d be a good personality fit, and talk with you about the opportunity.
Video interviews are often shorter than traditional interviews, cost less in terms of resources, and are useful when screening out-of-town applicants.
There are two types of video interviews: Solo and conversational.
Solo Video Interviews
In a solo video interview, you (the candidate) are recorded while answering questions. You’ll often be contacted via email and asked to access the interview through a link. Once you’ve navigated to the company’s page, a computer system will give you a prompt and let you take your time reading through the question. Next, you’ll hit the record button and give your answer. Once you’ve finished, you’ll click “stop” and move on to the next prompt.
Often, the company has prepared three to five questions – starting off with very general ones and moving into specifics towards the end. You can expect to answer traditional interview basics such as, “tell us about yourself” and “why are you interested in this role?”
Conversational Video Interviews
Conversational video interviews are hosted through Skype or other video chat services. In this type of interview, you’re speaking with a real person, and just like a traditional in-person interview, you’ll be asked common questions. Most candidates prefer conversational video interviews to solo ones as it’s less awkward to chat with a person rather than answering computer generated questions while being recorded.
Luckily for you, our tips are applicable to both types of interviews! Your goal is to make it to an in-person meeting where you can show the company you’re the right person for the job. To get there, you have to ace the first round video interview. So how do you do that?
Tip One: Dress Professionally
First impressions are powerful, and you don’t often get the chance to change someone’s perception of you. If you were meeting a recruiter in person, you wouldn’t show up in your pajamas. Dress just as professionally for a video interview as you would for an in-person meeting.
What you wear to a job interview is almost as important as what you say in the interview, so it’s essential to dress appropriately. Because you’ll be seated in front of a computer, you really only need to dress from the waist up! Throw on a nice shirt and a blazer, and you’re good to go.
Pro-Tip: Check out our guide on what to wear to an interview here.
Tip Two: Use a Headset
When you’re preparing for your interview, make sure you have a quiet, comfortable place to talk that has good reception. Turn off any TVs, radios, or speakers around you to ensure the recruiter is able to hear you and has your full attention.
You want the focus in this interview to be on you and your awesome skills, not on how bad your call quality is. Using a headset or headphones with a built-in microphone will ensure that you have the best sound possible.
Tip Three: Prepare Beforehand
Preparation is the key to any kind of interview. As we mentioned beforehand, there are a few ways that a video interview varies from a traditional in-person one, and you’ll want to prepare differently.
Choose a Professional Username
If you’re using a video chat service for your interview, make sure your username is appropriate. Just like when you’re creating a professional email account, you want your display name to follow the standard model of: first name, last name, and (if needed) a few numbers.
Check Your Settings Ahead of Time
Check your internet connection and camera settings in advance. If you’ve downloaded Skype or another video chat service specifically for this interview, make a test call to a friend to ensure that you won’t have any technical difficulties. Try and do this at least an hour ahead of time – This way, if you have any issues, you can fix them before your interview.
Prepare Your Surroundings
Pay special attention to what’s behind you when you’re choosing where to set up your computer. Choose a background that’s not distracting so the interviewer can focus on what you’re saying rather than what’s happening around you. If there’s a TV in the background, make sure it’s off. You may want to set up in an area where your back faces a wall in order to eliminate a lot of distractions (e.g. people walking in and out of the room, TV’s being turned on, pets running past, etc.)
Practice Your Responses
Just like you would for an in-person interview, it’s important to go over your answers to common interview questions. Video interviews are essentially the same as meeting in-person, except that they have a different setting. When you’re practicing your responses, keep them short and informative. 15-20 second answers are ideal for a solo video interview.
Preparing your answers ahead of time will guarantee that you sound confident when answering and ensure that you have a well thought out response ready to go.
Tip Four: Being Aware of Your Body Language
A few elements to pay careful attention to during your video interview are your eye contact, hand gestures, overall posture, and tone of voice.
Eye contact is the most important non-verbal element during a video interview. It’s tempting to look at yourself or the interviewer on the screen, but try and look straight into the camera. Doing this will give the interviewer the impression that you’re looking straight at them. Maintaining eye contact with the camera while the interviewer is speaking indicates that you are focused and paying attention to what they’re saying.
Pro-Tip: Eye contact during any kind of interview shows the interviewer that you’re a confident person.
Hand gestures play a key part in communication. The way that you use (or don’t use) your hands can convince people to trust you, imply that you’re an expert in a subject, or cause you to appear indifferent and dishonest.
If you’re nervous, you may be tempted to keep your arms crossed or fold your hands in your lap. Don’t! Closed arms suggest that you’re in a defensive position. Instead, make a conscious effort to keep your shoulders relaxed. By keeping your hands free, you’re more likely to begin to speak with them, despite your nerves.
In an interview, you want to project confidence and self-esteem, and one of the best ways to do that is to sit up straight while using eye contact and hand gestures. Choose a seat that forces you to sit upright over one that’s cozy or that reclines. Posture can indicate that you’re paying attention and taking the job opportunity seriously.
Tone of Voice
Another significant element in a video interview is your tone of voice. In a phone interview, tone is your main way to communicate interest. On camera, you’re able to couple your voice inflection with hand gestures and eye contact, creating a stronger display of enthusiasm for the interviewer. Smiling while you’re speaking inserts a positive inflection into your voice and projects an enthusiastic image to the person you’re speaking with.
Be conscious of your body language during a video interview – show the interviewer you’re interested in the job rather than just telling them.
Don’t get caught up in appearing so much like a professional that you lose your personality. Interviewers want to get to know you, so, even though you’re putting your best foot forward, let your natural charisma come through.
A great way to appear naturally professional (even if you’re nervous) is to practice your answers to common interview questions ahead of time. By practicing, not rehearsing, you’ll have a well thought out response ready to go and you’ll sound confident when answering.
Tip Five: Use a Cheat Sheet.
The two best things about a video interview are being able to hang out in the comfort of your own home and having the ability to use a cheat sheet to remind you of your important talking points.
Feel free to keep a copy of your resume on hand during your interview. You should be comfortable discussing your responsibilities at each of your past positions, and explaining what your skills and strengths are. If you sent a cover letter with your application, print it out and reference points from it. You can also compile all your important information into one document by downloading our free video interview cheat sheet here. Fill it in and you’re ready to rock your interview!
You should be taking notes throughout your interview. If the recruiter mentions any specific skills that would make a candidate successful, jot those down! They may also talk about upcoming projects and what the day to day responsibilities of the role are; write these down and reference them both later on in the interview and in your follow up thank you email.
The unknown can be scary, but there’s no need to be nervous when getting ready for your first video or Skype interview. With enough preparation, you’re sure to ace this first round interview and be invited for an in-person meeting. Remember the keys to leaving a great impression on the interviewer: dress professionally, be mindful of your body language, prepare ahead of time, and be yourself!