Video interviews – we’ve got you covered

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So, a potential employer or recruiter arranges a telephone or Skype video interview. What next?

Although this can mean a more relaxed environment, the end result is exactly the same as a more formal face-to-face meeting; your fate is in the interviewer’s hands, so please don’t be lulled in to a false sense of security. Be assured that it most certainly is not “just an informal chat”. You should treat it as you would a face-to-face interview, and be equally diligent in your preparation.

The following advice has been collected from our Consultants and Hiring Managers – which should help you ace your remote interview.

Telephone interview advice

Minimise disruptions and distractions

Be aware of what is happening around you and explain to other members of the household so you are not disturbed. Similarly, any pets should be kept out of the room; the last thing you want is for Fido to come bounding through the door as you’re talking business. Keep emails, magazines and other alluring visuals out of sight and switch the TV and radio OFF (not just on mute). Do not be tempted to start using your keyboard during a call – whether to Google the answer to a tricky question or to finish an outstanding email, the interviewer WILL be able to tell.

Of course, mobile phone signal failure cannot be avoided! If you or the interviewer are having technical problems, you’re best to acknowledge the issue and reschedule. If you already know that your area has poor mobile phone reception we suggest using a landline instead or arrange to take the call somewhere else.

Be personable

A friendly voice and a sense of humour is a sure way to ease conversation and quickly establish rapport with the interviewer. Injecting some fun into your answers also helps breaks down barriers. On a telephone call, pay particular attention to your voice inflection – because when you can’t see someone’s facial expressions, the tone can play as big a role as what’s being said. Be aware that on the phone, people often come across as flat/unenthusiastic. There is, however, a balance to be struck – you should speak clearly, deliberately enunciating your words, and be conscious of the speed, slowing down a little as you would when speaking in public. Clarity is your friend – you don’t want to be constantly repeating yourself, as this is likely to be interpreted as poor communication skills – as well as disrupting the flow of conversation.

Request feedback

During a phone interview, you obviously can’t read the interviewer’s body language to know if you’re on track, so when in doubt, feel free to ask: “Is there any area you want me to go deeper into?” Not only will this show your willingness to engage with the interviewer, it shows you are prepared. Be wary, though – there is a fine line between being prepared, and being scripted. Don’t answer questions as though you’re reading an excerpt from the telephone directory – answer naturally, and in a conversational manner.


Phone interviews are often used (in the first instance) to reduce time and unnecessary travel costs at the preliminary stages. In this instance, especially if the employer is not providing a relocation package, show how committed you are to make it happen yourself, eg. let them know that your house is already on the market, which instils confidence and expedites the hiring process.

Ask questions

When the interviewer is done talking, ask smart, pre-prepared questions about the job and company to demonstrate your interest and research.

Say thanks

Before hanging up, thank the interviewer for his or her time and, just as you would in a regular interview, draw the interview to a close in a professional manner. Examples include:

  1. Asking if they have any further questions
  2. Asking them how you did
  3. Asking them how the selection process progresses from here
  4. Asking when you might expect to hear further
  5. And finally, of course, thank them for their time and re-iterate your keen interest in this opportunity.

Skype and video interview advice

When attending a video interview you should also consider the following, to portray yourself in the best light possible:

Eye contact

It may feel natural to look at your computer screen whilst using Skype, but you should try instead to give a sense of eye contact by looking directly into the web-cam. Otherwise it will appear you are looking away from the interviewer.

Facial awareness

Are you aware of the facial expressions you use when talking? Don’t worry, you’re not supposed to! But using a video camera gives you the ability to view your face on screen. It may put you off when speaking and one way to avoid this altogether is to practice talking whilst looking into a mirror. Get used to how you look when you speak and you will feel more confident when talking to your interviewer via camera.

Getting shirty

Dress to impress! You’re still attending an interview – regardless of where it’s being held. Turning up in your pyjamas, no matter how tempting (or comfortable), isn’t going to score you any points with the interviewer. It’s a good idea to keep in mind also that certain prints and colours may appear louder on a computer screen than they do in daylight. Bright colours and flowery patterns should be avoided – instead wear colours that compliment your skin tone.

He’s behind you

Imagine you’re in a theatre shouting “He’s behind you” to the main character on stage. Things lurking in the background won’t be obvious – because they’re behind you. You don’t want the interviewer to wonder, or worse, mention, anything that could be deemed unprofessional showing up in the background. Before your interview starts, check out what will be shown on camera when you are sitting down. Is the washing put away? Is your desk clear? You don’t want the interviewer to be more interested in your surroundings than you yourself. Keep the background neutral – against a wall would be ideal.

Houston, we have a problem

Of course you should think about what you’re going to say and ask in the interview, but what about the process of “attending” the actual interview itself? Does your microphone register your voice clearly enough? Is your camera quality sufficient? Is your internet connection capable of transmitting your video call without interruptions? Test these things before the actual day, and order in better equipment if required. Some companies may even send out their own equipment to you, so you can make use of it in the interview.

Practice makes perfect

If you’ve never used Skype or had a video interview before, it would be a good idea to conduct a mock video session with a person you trust. Are you coming across on camera in the best way? Are you pronouncing words clearly enough? Is the lighting suitable? Get the other person to give you feedback on everything from what you say, to how you present yourself. It will prove invaluable for when the real interview comes along.

Typically, after a successful telephone or Skype video interview, you will be invited to attend a more formal face-to-face interview. Why not prepare yourself by reading our Interview Tips and Interview Question pages?

You may also be interested in reading our page on Interview Suites and Video Conferencing.