If you're applying for a graduate scheme with a major employer, it's very likely that you'll face a video interview as part of the recruitment process.
Video interviews are often used in the early stages of the interview process to filter out large numbers of candidates. They can vary in style and length. The obvious benefits are the money and time savings for both you and the company. It also means that the recruiter and their colleagues can watch the interview again rather than just relying on notes.
The format isn't without its challenges though - the main ones being connectivity problems and time delays. Not everyone is comfortable on camera and this may put some candidates at a disadvantage. However, with some preparation these issues can be overcome and help you move on to the next stage of the process.
Research the format
It's vital that you know in advance what format the video interview will take, as the two main types are very different experiences.
- Live - this is similar to a regular face-to-face interview. You'll speak to the interviewer (or panel of interviewers) in real-time over a video connection using a service such as Skype or Google Hangouts. Live videos enable employers to recreate the traditional interview format without requiring the candidate to travel to their office, meaning they can recruit from anywhere in world. Try to treat the conversation as you would an interview at the employer's offices and build a rapport with the interviewer.
- Pre-recorded - this is a much less personal experience as you won't be speaking to a real person. You'll be presented with pre-recorded or even written questions on screen, and then you'll have to record your answer on video, often to a time limit. This helps employers who have lots of candidates, as they can simply watch your answers later at a time that suits them - but it can be awkward if you aren't used to recording yourself. This makes practice even more important. On the plus side, you will be able to do the interview at a time of your choosing up to a set deadline.
Choose your location
Plan well in advance where you're going to do the video interview. Use a quiet location, where you won't be disturbed by noises and people. Make sure the room you choose is tidy and use a clean and simple background so that the recruiter focuses on you.
You need to think about the lighting as it won't be a great interview if you can't be properly seen. To ensure you don't get a shadow either use natural light from a window or put a lamp in front of the camera and adjust the distance to get the best result.
Close any software on your computer that might play notification sounds, and switch your phone to silent to guarantee you won't be distracted. Also, let everyone in the house know you're about to start the interview so they don't interrupt.
You may be at home but it's still a job interview and this is your opportunity to give a professional first impression - this means dressing appropriately. You should wear the same outfit you would have chosen for a face-to-face meeting with the employer. Think about how your clothes will look on screen and avoid busy patterns and stripes.
Use positive body language
It's best to avoid slouching, moving too much or touching your face. Instead employers will be looking for you to make good eye contact, smile, listen and take an interest in what they're saying. To help you do this your camera should be at eye level and you should look into it rather than at the screen.
For pre-recorded interviews, try to imagine you're speaking to a real person, maintaining your enthusiasm and positive body language. This can be harder to do when you're simply recording your answers.
If you're nervous it can be easy to rush what you're saying but remember that the employer wants to hear your answers. Speak clearly, and be careful not to interrupt as this is more easily done with the slight delay over the internet than during a face-to-face meeting.
A few days before the interview you should test the computer, camera and any software that you've been asked to use. Make sure the picture is clear and the sound quality is good. It's also worth checking your internet connection.
On the day of the video interview ensure everything is fully charged or plugged in as you don't want the battery to run down. You don't want to be still sorting things out as the interview starts, so switch everything on at least half an hour before the interview and sign in to any software that you'll need.
If there are any technical hitches, for example if you can't hear the questions very well, don't struggle through as you won't put in your best performance. If it's a live video interview, mention the problem. It may easily be fixed, or the interviewer may be happy to end the call and redial.
For pre-recorded video interviews, check beforehand whether you're allowed to stop and restart in case of technical issues.