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Bespoke Careers

24 March 2020

24 March 2020

Top tips for a successful video interview

Navigating the challenges of technology, kids and awkward pauses

Job interviews via Skype and other video conferencing software were once an occasional occurrence, but they have now become the norm as the world works from home during the Coronavirus outbreak.  

Of course, one of the main benefits of video interviews are savings in time and money for candidates, with no need to travel anywhere. But video interviews require just as much preparation as face-to-face interviews and can present their own unique challenges. So we’ve put together some of our top tips for making sure you are well prepared to ace that video interview and secure that all important job offer. 

Prepare as you normally would
  • As you would with a face-to-face interview, it is vital that you prepare for a video interview too. 
  • It goes without saying that you should conduct detailed preparation as you normally would – so research the company and who will be interviewing you, know your CV and portfolio inside out, prepare for which questions might be asked and read up on the latest trends/topics in your industry.
  • You can read our article on top ten interview tips here
Test, test and test
  • Technology can be amazing – but it can also be your worst nightmare if it goes wrong. So be well prepared in order to avoid getting frustrated and flustered sorting out an avoidable issue when you want to be calm and clear-headed. 
  • Seek clarity well in advance on which software will be used during the interview, so you have plenty of time to download, set up and test.
  • Think about the positioning of the camera, lighting and sound quality. A bad internet connection or poor-quality camera/sound can affect concentration during the interview and can often cause delay, potentially affecting your performance in the interview. If the quality of the screen or sound is poor, it can also skew what the interviewer takes from your responses.
  • Testing the video software, a day or two before the interview, can help avoid any awkward technology issues on the day. Seek the assistance of friends and family with testing, so you have time to iron out any issues and you feel comfortable using the software before the interview.
  • The software being used for the interview will often be dictated by the interviewing company, but if you have the ability to share your screen then this is a great way to talk through your cv / portfolio etc.  Make sure you’ve practiced this in advance. 
Choose your setting wisely
  • Look at your background – what will the interviewer see behind you? Keep the background as clear as possible and nicely presented (no posters or grubby walls).
  • Make sure you are somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed. Reduce any distractions so you can focus on the interview. This includes kids, pets and other family members! You could even put a sign on the door to remind people in the house to be quiet while you’re interviewing.
  • Keep your research and notes directly in front of you so you can easily refer to them while on the call. 
Appearance still matters
  • Plan in advance what to wear – remember, it’s still a professional interview, so you should dress the same as you would for a face-to-face interview. 
  • Dress from top to bottom – just because you are at home doesn’t mean you should leave on those tracksuit bottoms with your suit on top. Always put on smart attire on your bottom half too (just in case you need to get up at any point)!
  • Think about your body language and posture in advance - because body language isn’t as clearly conveyed in a video call, so pay attention to what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. And remember to sit up straight and don’t slouch. 
The Interview
  • Having put all your preparation in place, make sure you ‘turn up’ on time – there is no excuse to be late.  If you are experiencing technical issues at this late stage, then call or email to let them know, just as you would for a face-to-face interview. 
  • Try and look at the camera when speaking (not yourself) and smile!
  • Address everyone by name, so it’s clear who you are speaking to.
  • Be clear – video conferencing can sometimes affect speech, so speak slowly and clearly to ensure others can hear and understand you.
  • Wait until the interviewer has finished speaking before you begin to answer their question. It can be easy to interrupt more over video and more difficult to judge body language, so just take your time. 
  • Don't fear awkward pauses / silences. This is often better than talking over another person and allows for any time lags on the video call. 
  • You might find that you’re an exaggerated person on camera…more animated to some degree. That’s OK and quite normal, but just try to relax and be yourself.
  • Ensure that the document you have sent to the client is the same as the document you will run through (in case you have various versions) and make sure it has page numbers on it for ease of reference.
  • Don’t forget to state the obvious. Every time you start talking about a new project, be sure to state which page number it’s on, what the project is, state your role in that particular project, at what stage you joined it and left it and the project value, to give it some structure. This might seem obvious, but often people do not know what they should be looking at, and subsequently they lose focus.
Post-interview follow-up
  • Always follow up, the same as you would with a face-to-face interview! 
  • If using a recruitment consultant, call or email them following the interview to give feedback on the role, the company and how you thought it went.
  • If you’ve applied directly, then follow up with an email to thank the interviewers and let them know how excited you are about the position. 

When prepared effectively, online video interviews can be just as successful as face-to-face interviews – you can demonstrate to a potential employer your ability to communicate effectively, your ambition and motivation beyond what appears on your CV. Just remember to be prepared, be yourself and sell your skills and qualities as much as you would in a face-to-face interview. Good luck!


Author: Kat Allenby, Global Head of Communications, Bespoke Careers

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