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“You Want to do What?” A Quick Guide To Video Interviews

After registering with 80 job boards that all have a different password format to ensure that you will never be able to log-in again, you have applied for 3,000 jobs and finally got a positive response.

You are moved almost to tears at the sheer ecstasy of securing an interview until you are told that it will be a video interview using Zoom or Skype or similar.

Panic sets in. Sweat runs down your brow, you are not very photogenic (neither am I); you are the kind of person who gets nervous watching other people have photos taken. Like me, your nose looks big on video as well. What if they don’t like your wallpaper….

Relax, breathe deeply and follow this guide to help smooth the whole thing out:

Avoid the fatal error, avoid complacency!

The first mistake many people make is the assumption that at least they are in a comfortable and familiar environment, so they can relax. No, you cannot. I know people who have undertaken video interviews with a shirt and tie on their top half and pyjamas on the bottom, and that was an HR Director conducting interviews from home.

It doesn’t work, it is a psychological thing, it is a mind thing. You have to treat this exactly the same way you would a face to face formal interview. There is no room for complacency.

The Preparation

When you accept and confirm your interview time, ensure that everyone has the correct contact information. I’ve seen plenty of scheduled video calls go wrong simply because a candidate hasn’t logged in correctly, acknowledged or accepted the invitation to the interview because that disappeared into their spam folder.

Resist the temptation to agree to a time that means you will have to find somewhere with a Wifi connection, such as a coffee shop. You need to have absolute control over your environment and have absolute privacy and peace and quiet with no distractions.

Only last week I was conducting a video interview with a candidate in Italy. Behind him was a huge ornate mirror. Reflected in this mirror was a door. About 10 minutes into our call and the door opened, someone I can only assume was his wife then began to mime things at him. Very off-putting indeed, it was like Marcel Marceau in orange washing up gloves and a pink apron. If you are going to be at home make sure the kids aren’t sapping your broadband speed playing Call of Duty, you want a fast reliable connection.

Research Extensively

Treat the video interview just as you would a face to face in their office, sorry I know I’m repeating myself, but it is critical. Research the company, their culture, their successes, their history.

Visit social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to see who works there, what they are saying, what their professional backgrounds are. A huge one that many people overlook (even the millennials) is YouTube. If you are really lucky there may be a video of the person interviewing you doing a presentation.

Many companies use video to tell their story, like Cyril Marchal from Lucky Cart one of the most exciting innovators out there. It is a great feeling when you notice that their staff retention is well above average, that all the feedback, all the chatter is really positive and especially when you realise that many of them seem to be like you and have similar backgrounds and interests. Visit websites such as Glassdoor and see if anyone has posted a review about the organisation and the culture. Don’t take everything at face value though.

If you have been introduced by a recruitment firm then you should have a candidate pack. This should tell you all the really important stuff that isn’t in the public domain, why they are hiring for example. These make great crib sheets and also enable you to annotate and write questions and comments in the margins.

Read the job spec, understand it. If you haven’t got one then find one from a similar type of firm. If the one you have is limited in terms of detail then get on Facebook or LinkedIn and check out what people in that company are doing in that type of job, what have they got on their profiles. It may seem odd, but I often work without job descriptions. Usually, because the companies I work for are growing so quickly that a role is very fluid, it grows constantly and we need to hire people that can adapt and be agile. As such we need to be adaptable and agile in our hiring process and in terms of who we think we need to hire.

It is really important to check news and press releases. If the organisation has just announced a huge acquisition or an expansion plan, maybe an IPO you need to know and you need to show in the interview that you know. Even better if you can actually phrase some great questions with insight around how that event may impact the business, what opportunities it may throw up.

Set the Stage

Okay so you have all the information, you have done the preparation and you are raring to go. Check your PC and make sure that your webcam works, test your equipment; most video interviewing platforms have a facility for this.

Finally, get someone; a friend or family member to contact you via a video call and tell you how the setting looks. Move your desk or PC if you have to, you only have one chance to get this absolutely right.

It is very common for video interviews to run well over their allocated time, especially if they are going well, providing of course that you aren’t the one doing all the talking. So make sure you have some water available. Tell the kids and the dogs to stay out of the way.

You equipment works, you have set up the location, you have notes to hand, there is a jug of water to one side. What next?

Personal Appearance

You and your personal appearance. As suggested earlier there are no short-cuts to looking and feeling great. For a video interview, you need to prepare yourself. Have an early night the evening before, look good and feel sharp. Have a shower, dress appropriately, if you work in a suit and tie or a less formal environment then dress accordingly. It has a psychological impact, it works. If you are a guy, have a shave, comb your hair unless you are a hipster. In which case just do whatever hipsters do.


Finally, do some facial and oral stretching exercises. Sing a song, hum a tune, pull faces, stretch those muscles, laugh out loud and relaaaaaaaaax… People always look at me strangely when I recommend they pull faces at themselves in the mirror. It is however virtually impossible to do so without laughing, laughter releases hormones and peptides which relax you, make you feel better, look better and respond more naturally.

Here we go, you are all set….


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If you like advice and guidance on getting the most out of interviews or job searching then get in touch.



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