video interview tips

Expert performance tips for Skype and video interviews

Our expert tips will help you hone your video interview performance and avoid common pitfalls of this still fairly new approach to graduate recruitment.

Video interviews are a newish trend in the graduate job process. On the one hand they help recruiters and organisations filter candidates at an early stage, but because they’re different, there’s potential to cause intimidation among graduate job seekers. So, before you get nervous, get knowledgeable and read our tips from the experts.

Take the stage and then practise

As a first step, think about the impression your Skype name will create. Will you come across as professional? You may get off on the wrong foot from the outset if your Skype name is jokey or overly informal.

The next stage is to practise. You may feel a trifle self-conscious talking to no-one in particular ahead of interview day, but park your qualms, switch on your camera and watch yourself talk the talk. What you see from most presenters and celebs on TV doesn’t come naturally; they’ve learnt how to feel comfortable in front of a camera. Feeling assured on-screen takes practice, according to media training specialist Sue Campbell.

‘The key issue is confidence in front of the camera and being positive to somebody who isn’t there. It is actually harder to do than if somebody was sitting in front of you,’ says Sue, who advises company executives and business leaders likely to face media questioning and interviews, and has conducted video conferencing interviews in her role as a former executive director of Darlington College.

‘Practice is fundamental to enabling you to present yourself in the right way; a lot of practice. Practise on your own, or with a friend,’ says Sue.

Many laptops and PCs have a video recording facility and some of the specialist video companies hosting your interview offer online practice sessions to give you a flavour of what’s expected. Do you wave your hands in the air, pull faces like Jim Carrey or mutter into your boots when you talk? Do you slouch in your chair or fidget too much? Now’s the time to get a grip. You don’t have to look like a TV presenter, but get a pal, a parent or a tutor to critique your performance and then work on it.

‘Don’t look down or away to answers on a piece of paper,’ says Sue, who recommends you make notes as bullet points, not scripts, and put them where you can see them to ensure you get everything across you want to. Then look into the camera, not into the screen, to make ‘eye contact.’

Timing is everything

Another tip is to avoid talking over your interviewer – especially if there’s a slight time lag between you because of the online connection.

‘That’s a general rule, of course, but wait until you're sure they have finished speaking. And take it slowly – don't hurry out the words,’ says Sue.

The upsides of video interviews

  • You can arrange a convenient time to conduct the interview after ensuring your set-up works.
  • You can do the interview from home without anyone spotting your suited up, spruced up appearance and quizzing you about your intentions.
  • You don't have to factor travel time, stresses and costs into the process.

The pitfalls of video interviews

Some of these can be ironed out by planning ahead and making other arrangements, but they could include:

  • A broadband connection that isn’t good enough.
  • A webcam that doesn’t work.
  • Your house being too noisy.
  • You just don’t like the idea and find it difficult to come across in a relaxed, natural way.

On the last point, it’s worth remembering that this type of interview is a trend. It may pass or it may be here to stay and our experts were divided on its future. Though some graduates dislike the thought of being judged on-screen instead of in person, you may have to overcome objections to the process or lose out on a potential job. If you are lucky enough to have other offers elsewhere, it’s up to you whether you participate.

Many companies are using video interviews at early stages in recruitment and for jobs throughout their company, from graduate openings to board appointments. On the plus side, no company our experts have come across sees video interviews as a substitute for face-to-face second interviews and final selection – even the video interview providers don’t recommend it! Most companies will offer the opportunity to view their premises and meet other employees at a later stage in the process, if you get through this first.