The Intern’s Guide to Video Interviews: What You Need to Know

Let’s face it, being in front of the lens is intimidating enough. But when your career depends on how well you perform for the camera, taking a few lessons is absolutely necessary. From our experience working with companies and students, we’re aware that sometimes it can be a little hard to figure out how exactly you’re supposed to go about a video interview. Unfortunately, when all the employer has to figure out if you’re the right candidate for the role is a 20 minute online conversation over skype, getting it right is important.

But you don’t need to send yourself to film school to learn the basics! We’ve listed here the essentials to video interviewing that you need to know. Whether you’re a novice or you’ve done a few already and want to make sure you’re getting it right, our intern’s guide to video interviews is essential reading.

#1 – It Starts With You

You really do need to put your best face forward for these kinds of interviews. It’s recommended to always dress as if you were meeting your interviewer in their head office. If they are a relaxed startup with a casual vibe, then smart casual is fine. If it’s a more corporate environment then collared shirts and suits might be best. If you need help interpreting your company’s dress code, we wrote an article about dressing for interviews here! 

Unless the interviewer explicitly tells you otherwise, this is still a formal interview. So be sure to keep the same respect and decorum you would if you were interviewing in real life.

Remember to breathe, relax, mantain good eye contact and do all the other things a human being would do. It can be scary being interviewed in front of a camera but try not to let that make you freeze up and forget to blink.

#2 – Set the Right Scene

You should be sitting in front of a neat back drop. To play it completely safe, set yourself up against a nice, blank wall of some sort. The more things in your background, the more distractions. Video interviewers are judging you on your presentation so an unmade bed or your ongoing art project known as “floordrobe” are not things you want them to see. Also, try to do the interview alone – don’t have siblings/families/pets in the room.

Another essential part is that the interviewer needs to be able to see you. Not just to see that you can scrub up nicely, but also to understand what you’re saying. Body language and expression are very important in real life and aid a lot to how people interpret your character. A nice bright room filled with natural lighting is ideal. If that’s not possible make sure you have a lot of lighting. Make sure you don’t blind yourself or the employer by turning lighting away from direct eyeline (i.e. don’t point your lamp into the camera).

We’re also going to quickly mention the obvious yet continually occurring problem of people interviewing for a new job at their current place of work. Even if you do manage to find somewhere quiet and away from curious eyes, you may be so nervous about your boss overhearing your conversation that you’ll come across unsettled and edgy – not a good look! Make sure you can schedule some time off, or find somewhere QUIET to go on your lunch break for the interview. Most definitely don’t opt for a Starbucks at lunchtime peak hour.

#3 – Don’t Forget Your Tech

Now of course, it’s unfair to expect a candidate to use high grade HD cameras and mics during an interview. But it’s essential you use a good quality device when chatting to a future employer. Definitely avoid using a phone if possible. You want to be seen and heard clearly. Like the above points, the focus should be entirely on you and your qualities, not a bad connection and some dodgy pixels.

Finally, make sure your Skype account username and picture is job interview appropriate (some display pictures are best left buried in the past!).

With these tips in mind, make sure you prepare yourself like any other interview (read our prep tips here!). If you follow these guides, we’re sure your best self will come across, and you’ll be sure to impress!


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