This piece was written for Class of 2018 Month by Lisa Carr, a Careers Consultant at the University of Leeds Careers Centre.
According to the Institute of Student Employers, over half of employers now use video interviews as part of their graduate selection process. Most video interviews are pre-recorded and are shorter than live face-to-face or telephone interviews, with employers often scrolling through and deciding in the first couple of minutes whether to watch any further. So it pays to be prepared – that first impression is crucial.
Here’s how to give yourself the best chance.
Set the scene
Recruiters make quick judgements based on visual cues. A strong impression is also formed by the room you are in. What does the room say about you? Choose a neutral canvas and remove clutter and distractions (such as empty beer cans!). If books or pictures are on display, make sure they look professional. Ensure your desk and chair give you a good posture and that your room is well lit – avoid sitting in front of the window as this can cast a shadow. You’ll also want to make sure your housemates know not to disturb you. If in doubt, you can always book a room at the Careers Centre if you want a quiet, professional-looking setting for your interview.
Dress for Success
Dress as you would for a ‘proper’ interview (that means ironing your shirt!) as this shows employers you are serious about the job. Don’t cut corners just because the camera only shows your upper half – students have been caught out trying to do video interviews in their underwear before, and aside from the embarrassment, it’s sure to cost you the job!
Check your tech
You may be given the choice of recording your interview on a laptop, tablet or phone. Consider which will look best on screen and have the most reliable connection. You should be able to perform a test beforehand to check that your device is compatible and your audio and video optimised. Ensure your battery is fully charged and that automatic updates and chat boxes are disabled. Always do a test run – employers have complained of some student recordings showing a head cut off above the eyebrows or of most of the shot being of the ceiling.
Watch your eye contact
Strong eye contact with the interviewer is a key way to convey confidence and trustworthiness. You will need to make eye contact via the webcam (not the screen). By all means make notes during any reading time, but avoid checking notes during the interview as this will break eye contact. It is better to take a drink before the interview rather than during it.
Time answers carefully
Employers decide how many seconds to allow for answers to each of their questions (like a word count on application forms). Make sure you use all the time allocated to maximise your impact. Practice speaking for 30, 60 or 90 seconds so you know how much detail you can give. Giving too short an answer or not including enough detail is a common reason for rejection
Try to inject some energy into your voice to convey enthusiasm. Vary your tone to avoid sounding wooden. Avoid exaggerated hand gestures as these can be distracting. Don’t forget to smile as this conveys a real sense of warmth and confidence.
Getting across your key selling points can be harder in a video interview as you will be limited to set questions with no interviewer follow up. Some employers ask a final question such as “is there anything else you would like to add?” or “how did you find this interview?” Use this opportunity to sum up your motivation and suitability for the job. In any event, ensure you reference your key selling points throughout, having some short snappy phrases prepared to summarise at the end of each question.
It’s vital to use the employer’s interview practice facility to familiarise yourself with the process and to check how you look and sound.
You can also request a practice video interview from the Careers Centre (don’t forget to give us a few days to provide feedback): http://careerweb.leeds.ac.uk/info/9/talk_to_us/99/mock_interviews#video.
Finally, you can practise your video interviewing technique for free on interview4me: https://www.interview4.com/job-candidates/