Guest Blog: The Ultimate Guide to Video Interviews

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk

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We all want to get that brilliant graduate job, but knowing how to present yourself to employers can be challenging, especially on video. This is our guide to acing video interviews. Whether you’re a graduate or making a career change, this is the guide for you.

What is a Video Interview?

In today’s ever-changing world, video interviews are becoming more and more common. Depending on which survey you read, at least 60% of companies are now using video interviews at some stage in their hiring process. There are many books for graduates on how to excel in an interview – but what if all you have is a screen? This can actually be to your advantage. This guide will teach you how to excel in your video interview, so that you can land your dream job.

There are two different types of video interviews; Live, and One-way.

A ‘live’ interview is when you and your employer talk in real time, as you would in an in-person interview. The benefit of a live interview is that you can build rapport with the interviewer, and gain an immediate sense of the company’s culture.

A one-way interview is when you are sent the pre-set questions, and given a timeframe in which to respond with a video recording of yourself answering them. The benefit of a one-way interview is that you have time to think through your answers.

How to Prepare for a Video Interview

When preparing for a video interview, the lighting is essential. You may answer the questions well, but if the interviewer is struggling to make you out you will leave a bad impression. Using lamps in your room, make sure your face is clear and well lit – open up your webcam and check how you look from the cameras perspective.

What you sit in front of when you do the video interview is very important. Your background needs to be clean, neat, and uncluttered. Remover everything you can, so that there is nothing to distract the interviewer from your answers. If you can find a plain white or cream wall, that is best. How you dress is also important. If you are applying for an internship at a start-up that advertises a fun company culture on their website, don’t wear a suit and tie. If you are applying to a law firm, a suit and tie is best. Here is a link with a list of roles and the best way to dress appropriately to help you get hired.

Rehearsing your answers is the most essential preparation you can do to be recruited. There’s a reason actors rehearse scenes, and sport  professionals train for the big race. On the day, when the spot-light is on you and it’s your turn to shine – you need to be prepared. Have a look at this list of general interview questions to practice answering. As well as rehearsing these, brainstorm other questions you could be asked, and practice your answers to those too.

TIP: It is important you sit in the chair you will be interviewed in, in your interview clothes, with the lighting on, looking directly into the camera while you rehearse. Actors rehearse their lines on set so their mind and body learn how to perform together. You need to rehearse your lines on set, so that in the interview you look natural, feel confident, and know exactly what you are going to say.

‘I experienced a video interview when going through the application process to get my job here at Inspiring Interns. I was surprised how well it worked! The interview went really well, and through video I got a very clear idea of Inspiring Interns, the people and the great company culture. A video interview made more sense than a standard interview as it saved a lot of time in travel. I lived in the North of England, so travelling to London would have been very time consuming. My number one tip is treat it exactly like a face-to face-interview; dress to impress, use positive body language and make sure you’re in a quiet environment.’ – Tyler Milner Marketing Executive

Technology needed for Video Interviews

To conduct a video interview, you will need a webcam, headphones, and microphone – all of good quality. Most laptops come with these, but not all are good. Test the quality of yours with friends (on a skype call or google hangout). If the image or sound isn’t good enough, it is worth investing in buying a webcam or headphones with a microphone. This link compares the best webcams, and this one compares the best headphone/microphone combinations.

Ideally, be connected to the router physically rather than using Wi-Fi. If you only have access to Wi-Fi, make sure you’re not more than a few meters away from the router to ensure a strong internet connection. We recommend troubleshooting your internet connection so that you can be assured the call won’t disconnect or lag during your interview. If you have a Mac, click here for the steps to troubleshoot. If you are using windows software, click here. Also, make sure no one else will be using the Wi-Fi at the same time as your video interview. To check the speed of your internet, use Ookla Speedtest.

‘Based on seven years’ experience arranging interviews, some of which have been online, we often hear from employers how much they love video interviews. They save them time, while still giving a clear impression of the candidate and a sense that it’s a real interview – as opposed to a phone call.’ – Benedict Hazan, Head of Innovation

Tips and Tricks for the Interview

When choosing your outfit, avoid wearing anything white. It can come across as distractingly bright.

Body language speaks louder than words – if you say you are confident while slouching and shifting your gaze, the interviewer will not believe you.

Posture – sit up straight, shoulders relaxed, and back. Look directly at the webcam (make sure you rehearse this while practicing your answers). Check out this link which shows poses to do before your interview to increase your confidence.

Before the interview, remind yourself how amazing you are. We live in a culture which doesn’t encourage us to feel proud of ourselves – forget about that for the moment. Who cares what society thinks. You are amazing. You’ve achieved things, felt nervous and done them anyway, and produced good work. Be proud of who you are.

Be proud of the value you can add to a company. Many graduates go into an interview hoping to get the internship, and hoping to get paid well, while feeling on a lower level than the interviewer. Realize that they are interviewing you because of the potential value you can add their company. And they’re not the only ones interviewing – you should be interviewing them as well. Ask questions to find out whether it’s a company you would actually enjoy working for. This will impress them, and give you the information you need to know whether you would want to accept the job or not.

As an internship recruitment agency we love graduates who come in passionate, confident, and asking questions to make sure the job is the right fit for them long-term. Here is Nicole’s success story to show you the internship possibilities waiting around the corner for you.

Checklists

Setting up the space:

– Lighting

– Comfortable chair

– Appropriate clothes

– Clean uncluttered background.

Equipment checklist:

– Camera

– Headphones and mic

– The program you will be interviewed through (likely to be skype or google hangout).

Preparation:

– Rehearse your answers

– Do the powerful postures

– Remember you are interviewing them too.

Guest blog by Catherine Moolenschot from Inspiring Interns

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About soascareers

We are the dedicated provider of careers advice, events and information services for current SOAS students, staff and GradClub members.

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