Expert performance tips for Skype and video interviews
There are two types of on-screen interview you might face as part of the graduate recruitment process: live and pre-recorded. Both are convenient and save on travel costs and time, but they can seem intimidating and there are potential pitfalls to avoid. Our advice will help you perform your best and come across well on screen.
Pre-recorded video interviews are often used to filter candidates at an early stage, sometimes instead of a phone interview. According to a 2018 survey of members of the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), which includes many big blue-chip companies, 49% of employers now use video interviews. They are widely used by big investment banking, IT and consumer goods employers, and are often outsourced to external organisations. You are typically invited to log in to a system where you are asked to answer a series of pre-recorded questions.
Live on-screen interviews such as FaceTime and Skype interviews are closer to the traditional face-to-face interview.
Our partners Shortlist.Me offer resources to help you prepare for video interviews.
Three key tips for a smooth video interview experience
These tips will help you feel confident, present yourself in a positive way and come across well, whether you're being interviewed live or are taking part in a pre-recorded assessment.
- Be professional.
Tip 1: practise
- Practise on your own beforehand, using your laptop to record yourself. Review the recording to see how you come across on screen.
- Check out your body language and tone of voice. Do you slouch, pull strange faces or fidget? Do you mutter or gabble? Now's the time to tone down habits and mannerisms that aren't helping to create the impression you want. Check you're speaking clearly enough and at a pace that will allow you to be understood.
- Ask a friend, parent or tutor to review your recording with you. They could also take on the role of the interviewer and ask you questions – particularly useful if you're going to be doing a live two-way interview.
- Some companies that host video interviews offer online practice sessions or online videos you can watch beforehand for advice and encouragement. Take advantage of these. You may also be given the option of a couple of practice attempts before you record your final video interview.
Tip 2: prepare
Make notes in bullet point format and keep them where you can see them easily. It's OK to glance at your notes for reference if you need to, but you shouldn't sit there with your eyes glued to a piece of paper, reading out answers that you've written down in advance.
Check any instructions carefully. Once you've started, you are usually not able to rewind or review your answers.
Tip 3: be professional and dress the part
Treat your Skype or video interview as you would a face-to-face interview. If you're in doubt about dress code check out the company website, and if it's still not clear, dress smartly.
Check out the background that your interviewer will see. Look at it on your practice recordings or take a snapshot of what's behind you. A relatively uncluttered background is best. Check the light levels, too. You want the recruiter to be able to see you.
If necessary, shut out the wandering cat, silence the dog and warn your flatmates or family that you'll need some peace and quiet for a while.
If you're doing a Skype interview, think about the impression your Skype name will create and make sure it's professional.
When a live interview is under way, avoid talking over your interviewer.
What kind of interview questions will you be asked?
Some employers use video technology to present candidates with different workplace situations and to ask them questions about it. If this is the case, you might be asked to respond in one of the following ways:
- answer multiple choice questions
- record yourself speaking
- type in your answer
This kind of interview is sometimes described as a ‘job simulator’ or ‘online immersive assessment’. You can find out more about this type of assessment in our advice on psychometric tests.
Remember, pre-recorded video interviews are particularly likely to be used instead of phone interviews, but they are are not seen as a substitute for face-to-face second interviews and final selection. 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.
What to expect from your video interview
Companies that host video interviews include Sonru, SparkHire, LaunchPad and InterviewStream.
You may find yourself under some time pressure. For example, you might be given 15 seconds of thinking time and 60 seconds for your answer, with a timer on screen indicating how long you have left.
You could be asked to upload a self-recorded clip to a password-protected site to highlight specific skills or tell the company about yourself. This is particularly likely for roles in sales, media or marketing, and gives the recruiter insight into your presentation skills.
The next stage in video interviewing
The interviewer of the future might be a robot, at least for part of the recruitment process. The technology behind video interviews is evolving and companies are looking at approaches that use artificial intelligence (AI), whether it's in the form of a robot, a chatbot, a voice call with an automated caller or an interview avatar on screen. One of the arguments in favour of this type of assessment is that it is free from bias and personal prejudice.
Although the early stages of the recruitment process are increasingly likely to be handled by technology, human judgement is still a deciding factor in the later stages, when recruiters typically invite applicants to assessment centres or face-to-face interviews.
Employers that have used video interviews include:
- Bird & Bird
- Fidelity International
- Lloyds Banking Group
- Morrisons Supermarkets
- Skanska (Skype interview)
- UK Power Networks