Video interviews are used by an increasing number of employers to sift through candidates for internships, graduate schemes and other professional roles. Skype interviews are used as part of the interview process either early on or at a later stage when the interviewee and interviewer(s) are not able to be in the same room. This could be due to work commitments or being in different cities.
Today, many of us interact on social media daily which includes posting images and videos. However, the prospect of being recorded as part of an interview process can be a daunting one.
What is the difference between video and skype interviews?
Video interviews often consist of pre-recorded questions and the candidate is looking at the camera and answering the questions (usually within a set time frame). There might also be additional tasks such as a written exercise or a numerical test.
Skype interviews are live and could involve video or just audio. It is possible that you will be able to see the interviewer(s) and interact with them.
These types of interview should be taken as seriously as any other interview i.e. face-to-face or telephone. Below are some tips to help you prepare.
Respond to the invitation for a video or Skype interview
You are likely to be offered this type of interview via email or through your online application. Respond in a professional and timely manner as you will need to select and / confirm a suitable date and time.
Gather as much information as possible about the format of the interview
Often the employer will provide details of the interview format which could include the duration, what you will be assessed on and how. If you do not feel confident about the process, look for the contact details of the employer and ask for further information. There are forums and recruitment websites where more insight into the process and tips have been shared. Some employers will let you practice an interview question or navigate your way around the website / software.
Revisit the job pack and your application
In preparation of your interview, go through the details on the job description and person specification as well as your application. This might be your CV, covering letter, application questions or a supporting statement. Remind yourself of what the employer is looking for and how you demonstrated your strengths and motivations for the role.
Use the STAR technique
STAR is a useful tool for telling the interviewer(s) about your work, university and co-curricular achievements. Questions that benefit from STAR often ask you to describe a situation or give an example.
Situation – the context
Task – the goal / task
Action – the steps taken
Result – the outcome
Practice answering questions
Ahead of the interview, you can practice answering questions in front of the camera on your laptop or tablet. If you have a Skype interview, you could arrange a mock interview with a family member, friend or mentor. Create questions based on the details you have been given in the job pack or from the employer. Writing keywords on sticky notes at eye level on your laptop, wall or other nearby objects can help be useful prompts. Either get feedback from someone you trust or look back at yourself on video to identify positive and negative body language, clear speech, tone of voice etc.
Research organisation and interviewer(s) (if applicable)
Spend some time researching the organisation. You might have already started this during the early application stage. What do you know about the department you could be working in? What are the values of the organisation? What is the organisation’s vision? This process will help to clarify your motivations during the interview. Often with Skype interviews, you will be given the name(s) of the interviewer(s) in advance. In order to prepare some discussion points or form questions at the end of the interview, you can search for their profile(s) and publications on the organisation’s website or on LinkedIn.
Keep up to date with relevant current affairs
It is common during video and Skype interviews to be asked to demonstrate your knowledge of commercial awareness or current affairs. Spend time reading / watching credible news sources and consider and how specific topics might impact the industry.
Dress the part
Give thought to what you will wear for the interview. Dressing as you would do for a face-to-face interview will help prepare you mentally for the process ahead. Do not use this opportunity to experiment with makeup. The interviewer will be able to see everything and therefore too much hair in your face or lots of jewellery as well as attire with logos can distract from what you are saying. If you are unsure of what to wear, read guidance on careers advice websites or have a discussion with a mentor or recruiter.
Technology – test your camera and sound
There have been many instances where technology has let us down, from sound issues to a poor internet connection. Ensure you test that your camera works and is positioned well for the interview. Check your sound in good time and make sure that you can hear the interviewer (if applicable).
Choosing the room for your interview
There needs to be good lighting in the room and the background should be plain. Ensure your voice does not echo and choose a seat and table / desk that you will be comfortable at for the duration of the interview.
To avoid being distracted, you can have a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door and personally inform others around you of what you are doing. You can lock the door and turn your phone or tablet off to not have the temptation of looking at any notifications.
Time management with questions
Managing your time with pre-recorded questions is key. There might be a timer in a corner of your screen for each question and task. Skype interviews often allow for more flexibility as you are speaking to someone through audio or video. Practising your answers using STAR and having a timer can be useful.
You want to show confidence when interviewing. You can do this through smiling, maintaining eye contact and displaying a range of open body language. This can help you to build rapport with the interviewer(s).
Read / listen to each question carefully
Whether you are hearing / reading pre-recorded questions or listening to someone ask you a question via Skype, give yourself time to understand the question. It can help to read the question a couple of times or process it for a few seconds. You need to identify what the interviewer(s) have asked and what they are looking for. You will then be able to recall your most suitable examples.