Interviews and assessment centres

Expert video interview tips to impress recruiters

7 Jul 2023, 15:51

Whether it’s a live Zoom interview or a pre-recorded video interview, our expert video interviews tips will help you secure an internship or graduate role.

a woman undertaking a video interview using her laptop.

If you want to find out how to prepare for a video interview, look no further as this guide is packed with online interview tips. Keep reading for an overview of what to expect from a video interview. Or use the following jump links to go straight to targetjobs’ expert video interview advice.

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What should I expect from a video interview?

The Institute of Student Employers reported that 94% of its membership switched to virtual recruiting during the 2020–2021 recruitment round. Since then, many graduate employers have continued with the use of video interviewing.

Therefore, understanding the types of video interviews that you’re likely to undertake is your first step in preparing for them. One of the most obvious differentiations to start with is that video interviews are either pre-recorded or live-calls.

Pre-recorded video interviews (technically known as ‘asynchronous video interviews’) are often used to filter candidates at an early stage, sometimes instead of a phone interview. Employers usually outsource pre-recorded video interviews to external platforms. You are typically invited to log in to a system where you are asked to answer a series of pre-recorded questions.

You’ll need to record your responses using a webcam or mobile phone camera and upload them to the platform. You are usually given a short time of between one and three minutes to answer each question, with a timer on screen indicating how long you have left. Popular pre-recorded video interview platforms include Sonru, SparkHire and HireVue.

Live-call video interviews are conducted using video-calling platforms and are closer to a traditional face-to-face interview. The most popular video calling platforms are Zoom and MS Teams, but some employers still use Skype.

Expert video interview tips

These video interview 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 video interview.

Research for your interview

Be it a live video, pre-recorded video or in-person interview, it goes without saying that you must thoroughly research the role and the employer. At the bare minimum, make sure to clue yourself in to the role’s responsibilities and typical career paths, as well as the employer’s values.

Head to our article on how to research a company if you still have ground to cover on this front.

Get comfortable with the platform beforehand

You should be told which platform the interview will use a few days beforehand. So, before the day of the interview, familiarise yourself with the software so that you know how to navigate it for the big day. Make sure you know how to adjust volume and camera settings, how to mute/unmute yourself and how to join/leave calls.

If you're doing a Skype or Zoom interview, think about the impression your username will create and make sure it's professional. For pre-recorded video interviews, find out how to start/stop a recording and, if the platform allows, how to discard a recording if you want to re-record your response.

Practise answering interview questions

Practise answering interview questions and use 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 best impression. Check that you're speaking clearly enough and at a pace that will allow you to be understood.

Some pre-recorded video interview platforms offer online practice sessions or videos you can watch beforehand for advice and encouragement. Take advantage of these.

Practise with somebody

Ask someone you trust to give you honest, constructive feedback on your speech and online appearance. Let them play the role of the interviewer and ask you questions. This will be particularly helpful if you’re preparing for a zoom interview, for example. If you’re preparing for a pre-recorded video interview, then you can ask them to review your own recordings.

Create a note sheet

Make notes in bullet point format and jot down important information about the employer and key points about yourself to mention in your answers. On the day, keep the notes where you can see them easily. It's OK to glance at them for reference if you need to, but you shouldn't sit there with your eyes glued to a piece of paper or reading from notes prepared in advance.

For live-call video interviews in particular, it’s especially important that you make sufficient ‘eye contact’ to show the recruiter that you are focusing on the conversation.

Dress smartly

Dress for a video interview as you would for an in-person interview. If you're in doubt about the dress code, opt for smart. It is better to feel over-dressed than under-dressed. You can get more interview style tips in our ' what to wear to your job interview ' advice feature.

Set up your space in good time

Ensure that you move to a quiet room (with good internet signal), let anybody you live with know in advance that you have an interview to do and clear your background to create a professional impression. If the video interview platform has the option to blur your background, then consider using it. Don’t forget to check the light levels in the room, too. You want to be clearly visible to your interviewer.

Use the right device

It’s up to you to choose whether you should take a video call on your phone, tablet or laptop. We’d usually advise using a laptop on a desk or table for a video interview if you have one.

Although your other devices may have better quality cameras and microphones, you won’t have to worry about holding your laptop or placing it carefully against a stack of books to prop it up, for example.

Ensure your technology works

Make sure to test that your technology is working correctly well before the interview is due to take place. Keeping your device connected to a power supply for the duration of the interview is the safest bet.

Join the call on time

When you don’t need to leave your home for an interview, it can be easy to let punctuality slip a little. Employers and recruiters, however, will still be unimpressed if you log into a call even two or three minutes late. After all, it’s not like you can blame the traffic.

Leave enough time to navigate meeting invites or any unexpected technical hiccups, such as any last-minute internet problems. Keep in mind that recruiters will be in the same boat and will most likely forgive any unavoidable technical glitches. In the case of anything disastrous, recruiters may be willing to have conversations over phone or to rearrange the call.

Use headphones if necessary

Factors outside of your control, such as building or road works may create unwanted background noise. Headphones are a quick and comfortable solution to this problem.

Use the mute function if necessary

It’s good etiquette to mute your microphone if for any reason you need to step away from the video call. For example, the recruiter may offer you a short toilet break before moving on to the next part of the interview. Just remember to turn mute off when you return.

Make sure to correctly exit the video interview

This may seem basic, but once your call has ended make sure you properly ‘hang up’. Don’t just switch windows or lock your device. If you were sharing your screen during the call, make sure that you stop sharing too, otherwise you may end up inadvertently broadcasting personal information or, for example, a social media feed you'd rather not have employers see. It never hurts to check.

Essential pre-recorded video interview tips

These next pointers will help you craft clear and concise responses to pre-recorded video interview questions within the time limit.

Write out your answers when practising

During a pre-recorded video interview, there won’t be an interviewer to ask you follow-up questions. This can make it easy to blurt out an answer in the effort to cover multiple points in one go. By seeing your answers to practice questions in writing beforehand, you’ll get a better sense of whether all of the points you want to make are relevant to what the questions is asking you.

Time yourself when you practise

Don’t find out how long you take to answer questions until the real interview. You don’t want to be cut off before finishing an answer, so time yourself when practising. You can then decide if you need to shorten or lengthen an answer.

Pay extra attention to the instructions

Read the instructions on how to complete your video interview carefully. Before you start a pre-recorded video interview, make sure to check whether you are able to re-record responses and, if so, how many retakes you get. Some employers allow you multiple retakes, others only a single attempt.

There will also be a deadline by which you must complete a pre-recorded interview – this is usually within a week.

What questions will I be asked in a video interview?

At either a pre-recorded or live-call video interview, you could be asked competency-based questions, strengths-based questions, values-based questions or a combination of these. There are different techniques for structuring your answers to the different types of interview questions. Head to the following articles to learn more:

What are ‘job simulator’ video interviews?

Some employers use video technology to present candidates with different hypothetical workplace situations and to ask them questions about it. This is sometimes called a ‘job simulator’, ‘virtual assessment’ or ‘online immersive assessment’.

If you have to complete a ‘job simulator’ assessment, you might be asked to record your answers in the same way as you would for a standard pre-recorded video interview. However, unlike a standard pre-recorded video interview, the questions are typically all related to the hypothetical scenario. You can find out more about this type of assessment in our advice on psychometric tests .

Alternatively, you could be asked to upload a self-recorded video 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. Loom is one such platform that’s widely used for submitting self-recorded video clips.

Where to next?

As mentioned earlier in the article, researching the employer and role should underpin your video interview preparation, and creating your free targetjobs profile will help! You’ll get advice content recommended in your feed, tailored to the career interests that you tell us about.

There are also sector-specific video interview advice guides on targetjobs, which you can find in the link block below. You’ll also find a link to our partner Shortlist.Me, that provides video-interview practice resources.

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