If you've landed on this post, it's likely that your resume has impressed the hiring manager(s) at the company you're applying to work for, and you've now been invited to interview. That's a huge accomplishment.
There's just one catch — the interview is taking place over a video call, and you've never been in this position before. How do you complete a video interview? And, more than that, how do you pass one?
Never fear, we’ll go over all of that below.
If you're looking for video interview tips, tricks, and best practices — or just want to know what in the world an automated interview is — you've come to the right place.
Passing Video Interviews
When you go into your video interview, what should you do to pass? How should you prepare? Above all else, prepare like you would for a traditional interview.
Video interviews are meant to be an accessible alternative for a traditional interview. Keeping that in mind will help you get into the right mindset. This is your moment to really sell yourself to the interviewer, and put a personality behind your amazing resume.
In fact, going beyond your resume is what impresses one of HubSpot's senior recruiters, Shavon Bell. She says, "When recruiting senior talent, I look for the story beyond the resume. I recognize it can be challenging for a senior leader to fit all of their experience into a two-page document, so don't leave anything to be assumed during exploratory conversations or an interview, tell your story the way you want it to be told — transparency is key."
Telling your story is what will set you apart from others. But that's not all. It's also important to know the story behind the company you're interviewing for.
Showing that you've done your research and have put thought behind how you would fit into the company, for instance, is something that impresses one of HubSpot's campus recruiters, Kate Kearns.
Kearns says, "Make sure you're doing your research before hitting ‘start’ on the video interview. You should usually have at least a couple of days before it needs to be submitted, so take some time to make sure you are prepared to answer questions testing your knowledge on the company and role."
Using your time before the interview wisely will only help your interview. Think about what hiring managers want to know about you during your short time talking. They won't get to know you on a level that's as personable as an in-person interview, so making that connection seem natural will likely raise your interview score.
For example, explain how the role will help you reach your professional and personal goals. Identify what you can add to the company, and mention those superstar qualities about your talent that will make the hiring manager go to bat for you being the perfect candidate.
Next, we're going to go over some tips you can follow for video interviews, but if you would like more information about preparing for an interview, check out this interview kit.
Traditional Video Interview Tips
It's the big day. Or, as those in the theater call it, opening night.
The task at hand: sell yourself. Don't let the screen interrupt the purpose of the interview. You know you have what it takes to land that role, and with these tips, you'll knock that interview out of the park.
1. Dress to impress your interviewer.
As The Office character Michael Scott says, "I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious." That's where my lucky interview blazer comes in. Every time I have a video interview, so does my blazer: I never start one without it.
Even though your interview will be through a screen, dressing for the interview communicates to the interviewer that you still know how to maintain professionalism in a virtual setting. So, even though you might be in your bedroom, or sitting at your kitchen table, make sure you're in your business best.
2. Keep your notes accessible.
If you're someone who finds it helpful to refer to notes when interviewing, keep them in front of you. For me, it's helpful to have my LinkedIn profile and resume open in another window, with sections I know I want to mention highlighted or bolded.
This helps to make a quick reference. Similarly, if the interviewer asks a question about a specific piece of content on LinkedIn or a resume, it'll help to accurately explain that experience. By already having those reference points accessible, you won't forget anything important.
3. Test your technology beforehand.
You will be notified of the software you need to have in order to successfully complete your interview well in advance. Maximize this time, download the software if you haven't already, and make sure you understand the basics of how it works.
This is also a great time to test how your webcam interacts with the software. No two video technology services are the same. So, you'll want to test your microphone, lighting, and camera to fix issues beforehand. You wouldn't want to make it to your interview and find out your mic isn't working.
4. Maintain eye contact with your interviewer.
Remember: The only difference between a video interview and a traditional interview is that you aren't in the same room as your interviewer. That said, be sure to maintain eye contact with your interviewer.
You might have other distractions, things that are unavoidable when working from home, such as family or roommates. The best way to maintain professionalism regardless of the outside environment is to keep eye contact and make sure the interviewer knows you are engaged. After all, they will be keeping eye contact with you.
5. Minimize possible distractions.
Even though there might be uncontrollable distractions, there are distractions that you can control. For instance, keep your phone away from you. Turn it over and put it on silent or in another room.
Additionally, if you know the background of your video space is unkempt or tidy, take the time to fix it or pick another space. For instance, you wouldn't want your interviewer to see half of your laundry hamper dumped on the bed behind you.
If you are in a room with a door, close it, as well as any windows. Make sure you're taking the proper precautions to present the most professional space possible.
6. Set up proper lighting.
In college, I learned about the glory of three-point lighting. The general idea is that if you position different lights around what you're shooting, you'll deliver a properly illuminated message.
This isn't to say that you should go out and buy a ring light, but do make sure that your face is visible to the interviewer. Don't depend on natural light from windows — what if it's raining on your interview date?
When I have a video interview, I turn the room light on as well as the lamp on my desk. Then, I make sure that the video software picks up the light the way I’d like. This helps eliminate another worry of video interviews: being seen in the first place.
7. Be early to each round.
This doesn't mean that you have to sit around on Zoom or Skype 20 minutes prior to your interview start time. However, do try to be at least five minutes early to each round of your interview.
This is a chance to go over notes and take a few deep breaths to stay calm and motivated. It makes a big difference to go into an interview calmly and composed, rather than rushing to join the video call after a quick bathroom break.
8. Speak loudly and clearly enough.
If you have a soft voice, be mindful of speaking loudly enough so your microphone will pick up your voice. Video interviewers have a little less to go from, and if they can't hear you, they won't be able to assess your answers.
To prepare for this, record yourself saying the lyrics to your favorite song with the video software you will be using. Take time to separate the words, and listen back for volume control.
In essence, a traditional video interview is one that you can complete from your own space. Fixing up this space to be interview-ready can be a challenge, but you don't have to completely alter the functionality of the room. Just be sure you're communicating yourself and your professionalism.
But let's say that the interview invitation in your mailbox doesn't mention an interviewer. Instead, the invitation says the interview will be automated. Let's go over what that means, and provide tips on how to master them.
What is an automated video interview?
Automated video interviews are interviews in which the interviewee must answer prompts that appear on their computer screen within a certain time limit. This can either be done in a typed format, or in a 'call-and-response' format.
These interviews take an in-person interviewer out of the equation. Instead, your interviewer will be a series of questions that you'll have an allotted amount of time to read and comprehend. Then, you will record your responses via video or text, depending on the instructions.
How do you pass one? Let’s cover some best practices.
Automated Video Interview Tips
When the interviewer is merely represented by words on a screen, it can be an unnerving experience trying to prepare for the interview questions. But don't fear, these tips will help you make sure you have all your bases covered to ace your automated interview.
Tips for automated video interviews
- Test your technology in advance.
- Do a trial run beforehand.
- Speak steadily and concisely.
- Be cognisant of body language.
- Don't overthink the video interview.
- Make sure you understand the prompts.
- Always have an answer to the questions.
1. Test your technology in advance.
When you receive your automated interview invitation, make sure you have the correct software needed. For instance, if your automated video is hosted using a third-party app that you have to download, make sure you have it beforehand.
Additionally, test your tools: Is your webcam working? Is your microphone turned on? Is your keyboard properly working?
All of these questions will be imperative to your success for an automated interview — there's nothing worse than trying to complete a video interview with a webcam that's not turning on.
2. Do a trial run beforehand.
Think about the questions you might be asked during the interview. Then, record yourself answering them on a time limit. Note: this will feel weird and unnatural.
However, timing your answers and analyzing your body language will help avoid those intrusive interview thoughts of, "Will I have enough time?" and "How am I coming across?"
Treat the trial as if it's a real interview: dress for the occasion, and rehearse earnestly.
3. Speak steadily and concisely.
My biggest fear when I was interacting with my first automated video interview was having enough time to get all of my thoughts out. But trust the time limit. Chances are, most of your in-person interview responses take the same amount of time the automation allows.
That said, you'll have more than enough time to speak steadily. When you practice, take note of your sentence flow and be mindful of how fast you're speaking.
On the other hand, your answers should get to the point — avoid fluff so you can get to all the points of the question.
4. Be cognisant of body language.
During in-person interviews, you're likely hyper-focused on body language. Automated interviews should be no different, especially if you are recording your answers with video.
Remember to treat these interviews as if they're with another person (More often than not, real people will be grading your answers.) Make eye contact with the web camera or the screen in front of you and maintain a professional posture.
5. Don't overthink the interview.
What? Now there's another type of interview to master? That's enough to make anyone nervous, right?
But don't sweat it — automated interviews usually provide clear instructions and more than enough time to answer the question. In fact, automated interviews can be quite fun; you'll have the opportunity to present yourself in a new way, and to do so within the comfort of your own space.
6. Make sure you understand the prompts.
Once you receive your prompts, you'll have plenty of time to read them over and understand. Make sure you use the full extent of that time to read, comprehend, and form your answer before you record.
You won't be able to ask the prompt for clarification on a question, and you won't be able to re-record your answer once you send it in, so make sure you're prepared before you record yourself.
On that same note, though, because your interview will be graded by hiring managers, they will take into account slight missteps. Just like in-person interviews, if you have to start a sentence over to clarify, or accidentally flub a word, don't think you've killed your chances.
Mistakes are human, and they happen. 🙂
7. Always have an answer to the questions.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make during an automated interview is not answering a question. Even if you are unsure of what the question is asking, take your best shot. You can always restate what you believe the question is asking in the interview to clear up confusion.
If the prompt asks you to detail a situation you've never been in before, instead of leaving the answer field blank, or answering the question by saying, "I don't know, I've never encountered that," explain how you would approach the situation instead.
It looks way better hiring managers for an answer to start with, "I've never come across this situation in particular, but if I had, this is how I would approach it," other than no answer at all. Remember, these situational questions are to demonstrate your problem solving skills in a work environment.
Overall, take a deep breath. Your resume has already impressed the company, and the purpose of the interview is to make sure you can back up your experience. Give the interviewer, whether automated or in-person, a chance to get to know you, your personality, and professionalism.
Originally published May 6, 2020 4:00:00 AM, updated March 05 2021