How to prepare for a video interview

Video interviews are a very popular method of interviewing. And, it’s likely to be a rather popular style of the interview over the next few weeks in our current climate. There are many benefits for the candidate and the business.

  • For the candidate, there is no need to travel so you won’t get stuck in traffic or have to pay for parking.
  • For the business, there’s no need to offer travel expenses or book rooms. It’s a method that can reduce the costs of the hiring process.

Given the current pandemic and health and economic crisis, we will see a lot more jobs going on hold or even disappearing. However, the economy will repair and rebuild and we need to hold on to some hope that life will return to some normality.

There are of course, some subtle differences between each style and format of interview (telephone, formal or informal, panel or face-to-face interview). As well as differences there are some fundamental similarities when preparing for a video interview.


There are two main types of video interview:

Skype or Live video: The candidate is often at home when they are interviewed on Skype, whereas a video conference tends to be in an office environment. A video conference can have a different more formal feel. Recruiters interviewing across Europe or globally will offer this type of interview at the initial stages. This saves time and money for both the candidate and the business.

Recorded video: The recorded video also has two differences:

  1. A recorded video can be a link sent to the candidate that opens up the software to record your video.  There is no one actually conducting the interview. The questions are text on the screen. Typically, you’ll see the question on the screen and get 30 seconds to prepare your answer. Then you’ll be given 60 seconds to record your answer.
  2. The second style of recorded video may ask you to record a short clip and send it in. Recruiters will give you a brief to prepare your video clip.

If you are invited to a pre-recorded video interview, we have a blog that shares some specific details about what to expect and how best to prepare.  How do you Prepare for a Pre-recorded Video Interview?

How do you prepare for a video interview?

The first point and one of the most important points are to prepare and practice. Whatever format or style of interview you are still being assessed against three things:

Competency: Job fit = experience, knowledge, skills, behavioural and technical competence.
Commitment: Motivational fit = passion, drive, enthusiasm, and interest.
Chemistry: Cultural or company fit = Aligning with the values and operating principles of a business. The ‘how we do things around here’.

The same advice applies to a video interview as for any other interview. You are still being assessed on these three things. The less structured interviews may spend more time in one aspect than another. For example, an informal interview might focus on chemistry. The hiring manager will check if the person fits with the team, department, and company before formally interviewing on the job fit.

Test the equipment

Always test your computer and software a few days before the interview. Most software providers send out regular (sometimes daily) updates and it’s sensible to keep yours up to date. This is not just for the new and updated features; it’s to protect you against bugs and viruses. We don’t like viruses of any kind!

Set the scene

Check your background is suitable and not too cluttered. You want the focus to be on you and you don’t want the interviewer to be distracted. If you are a private person, you may not want family photos in the background.

It’s also worth checking the lighting and I know this might sound vain. If you have the main light (a window) behind you, you’ll end up being a silhouette and the interviewer won’t be able to see you properly. Also, ensure the angle of the camera is positioned so your face is in the middle of the screen. You don’t want to look as if you are peeping over the top of your computer!

Let others know

Most of us have seen the live interview on BBC with Professor Robert Kelly. While explaining South Korean politics, he was interrupted by his children who then had to be unwillingly dragged out by their mother.

Interviewers will be used to events and incidents happening during the interview process – that’s recruitment for you! The interruption will be more distracting for you, rather than the interviewer. And, it may affect your performance for the remainder of the interview.

So, let other people in the house know you have an important interview.

Quick checklist:

  • Change your username is appropriate (if not set up another account).
  • Test the technology at least the day before.
  • Check the background and lighting.
  • Let other people in the house know about your interview.
  • Prepare some specific examples to share – Check out this blog on the S.T.A.R process.
  • Practice your answers ideally on Skype or Video.
  • Review the job description and research the company.
  • Prepare answers to common questions