The ultimate guide to video interviews

Video interviews are an increasingly popular method for employers screening applicants. With wide access to technology and major advancements in software, the interview process is changing - and graduates need to be ready for it.

Video Interviews: Two takes

There are two types of video interviews which require a similar set up, but slightly different techniques.

The first is the Skype interview, which uses the popular video calling software to connect the employer with the applicant. From there, interview protocol proceeds as normal.

The second type of video interview is the recorded video interview, which usually adheres to the following format: the applicant is shown a question on their computer screen and they have a set amount of time to record their answer. These recordings are then sent to the employer to be reviewed.

Companies like TJX Europe, Aldi and Arcadia have been known to use these types of interviews for the sake of convenience and to save applicants from having to spend money on travel. Though they are more convenient, there are a few added elements interviewees need to consider with this new approach.

Step one: Lights, Camera...

Getting the right lighting, camera position and background for a video interview is important to help show an interviewee in the best light - literally.

Lights

Depending on whether the interview is during the day or in the evening, applicants should think about ambient light and placement.

In daylight hours, interviewees should face a window which lets in natural light in order to avoid any unnecessary shadows or poor illumination.

My initial video interview was recorded by myself to random questions accumulated by the computer. There was not a graduate recruitment team on the other side of the camera, rather they reviewed the video interview after it was submitted.Morrisons - Marketing Scheme - Interview Review

If the interview is at night or there is limited access to natural lighting, graduates should aim to find a source of light directly opposite them so their face is fully lit. Interviewees should also keep other lights on in the room so they don't look like they are under a spotlight.

Camera

Nearly all laptops have a built-in camera at the top of the screen. To make the best use of the camera, it must be correctly positioned. Since the ideal placement for a camera is at eye level, applicants may want to raise their laptop using a shoebox or stack of books.

Applicants should position themselves a little less than an arm's length from the camera and keep their face framed so that their eye line is two thirds of the way up the screen. It is important to look as natural as possible and keeping a nice proportion in the camera's frame will help.

Background

Employers will likely not care about cutting-edge interior design in an applicant's background, but they will not want to see dirty dishes and discarded pizza boxes. What is captured in the camera's frame should be complementary - but not distracting.

There were six questions in total. It was useful to have a pen and paper nearby to make notes while you're reading the questions and to have a few examples prepared. TJX Europe - Merchandising & Buying Graduate Scheme - Interview Review

Interviewees should avoid plain white walls, as they do not transpose well on camera (especially not on a standard issue laptop webcam). Interviewees should position themselves somewhere they will be comfortable - as long as what is captured in frame is tidy. Watch out for potentially hazardous combinations in the frame, such as plants growing out of heads.

Note: While video interviews are not face-to-face, graduates should still dress the part - at least from the waist up.

Step two: Action

The novelty of being on camera can make some interviewees nervous or put out. There is an element of acting involved in video interviews, and it is wise to be prepared.

Body Language: Keep a relaxed but professional posture, and don't be afraid to use hands and arms to help make a point - as long as it is done in moderation. Too much gesturing can become distracting.

Speak Slowly: Nerves and a ticking clock can induce interviewees to stumble over their words, which can be exacerbated by recording. Speaking too quietly, quickly or not enunciating properly comes across worse on camera than in real life - and sometimes there isn't the chance to try again. Speaking slowly will help keep nerves in check.

Eye Contact: Graduates are told to look interviewers in the eye and video interviewees should do the same. Applicants should avoid the temptation to look at the corner where their face is being displayed, and instead gaze directly at the camera. Not only will it help with focus, it will also give the impression of confidence and authority.

Video interviews follow many of the same protocols as normal interviews, but graduate interviewees must be aware of the differences of being on camera and be ready to compensate.

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