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Video interviews

  • Types of Video Interview
  • How to prepare
  • Technology advice

With remote interviewing becoming increasingly popular across all job sectors, this section provides top tips to help you prepare effectively. 

There are two main types of video interview;

  • live interviews
  • or pre-recorded.

It is important that you read any instructions the recruiter sends carefully so you are clear about which type you are preparing for. Video interviews are often used in the early stages of the interview process.

This can filter the number of candidates, employers are also seeing benefits such as:

  • accessing a geographically dispersed talent pool,
  • effective working across different time zones
  • reduced travel costs
  • co-ordinating a strong panel of interviewers.

A live video interview is with an interviewer or panel of interviewers conducting the interview through a platform such as:

  • Zoom
  • Teams
  • Skype
  • Google Hangout.

You will be sent a link to access the interview at a pre-scheduled time. The format will closely replicate that of an in-person interview.

On completion of this stage of the application process some recruiters would still invite you for an in-person interview. However, for some employers this could be the final stage in the process before making an employment offer.

A pre-recorded video interview (or one-way interview) involves recording yourself answering a set of pre-recorded questions.

This works in the following way:

  • Employers will send you a link to video interview platforms such as ShortlistMe, Sonru and LaunchPad with a tutorial or instructions for completing the interview. This will often include links to practice sessions, and a test to assess sound and vision quality.
  • This will often include links to practice sessions, and a test to assess sound and vision quality.
  • As there is no interviewer present you can record your answers at your own convenience before a set deadline.

You will be given a set amount of time for each answer, for example, 1 minute to read the question and begin to formulate your response and 2 minutes to answer it. It is advisable to practice giving answers in 2 minutes, it’s easy to either have too much to say or not enough. 

As there is no interviewer present you can record your answers at your own convenience before a set deadline. It is not advisable to leave this until the last minute in case of technical issues. You may also want to consider what time of day you are likely to perform most effectively, if you are a morning person then don’t try and record late in the evening as you will not be at your best.

How to prepare for a video interview

Practice: Check your technology and software

  • A tutorial or instructions will usually be sent in advance together with a FAQ section, and a link to undertake an audio and visual check.  
  • Ensure that you have tested your equipment: microphone (try not to wear headphones), webcam and any other audio-visual kit you use in advance. Check the calibration of sound and image that there is no delay or crackling noises.  
  • Check in advance that the technology is compatible with your device, don’t leave it until the last day. 

Content: Similar to in-person interviews the interviewer is looking for evidence that you match the job requirements and is assessing

Similar to in-person interviews the interviewer is looking for evidence that you match the job requirements and is assessing; 

  • Your personal qualities, qualifications, skills and abilities 
  • Motivation and enthusiasm to succeed in the role 
  • How effectively you communicate and your interpersonal skills 

Please refer to our Preparing for interview and Interview Questions resource for detailed guidance in preparing to answer interview questions.  

Location: Where do you feel most comfortable?

  • Choose a location where you feel comfortable. Ensure it is in a quiet area, close your windows and doors, turn off any equipment that may distract during the video process e.g. phone, TV, radio, notifications, washing machines and so on. Consider placing a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door. Avoid filming outdoors as you will have less control over noise or light levels.  
  • Move around to find a simple and tidy background. Check your surroundings behind you on your webcam, take down any distractions. Sit at a table (avoid an office/ computer style chair if you might be prone to ‘swinging’ if nervous!) Look at your outline in the camera view – get close enough so you mainly see your head and shoulders. ​ 
  • Raise the camera to eye level, if you have a laptop, put it on a box or similar. ​ If using a mobile device have it resting on something. ​ 

Lighting: Can the interview panel see you?

  • Ensure the lighting is bright (more than just your computer screen as a light source) and that the light source comes from the same direction as the camera. This will light your face evenly and avoid unwanted shadows.  
  • Try not to record under harsh artificial overhead lighting. Avoid being back lit as this will make you appear as a silhouette. 

Presentation: What first impression are you making?

  • Look the part and dress appropriately as if you were attending this interview in person.  
  • Align the webcam with your face and shoulders; ensure you are looking straight ahead at the camera so you are talking directly to the employer – and remember to smile.  
  • Think about your body language, look enthusiastic, motivated and avoid slouching.  
  • Think about your surroundings, and what or who may be in your background. 


  • Check and practice the timings, the general format is 30 seconds to read the question followed by two minutes to answer.  
  • Call a friend before to check your camera and set up, including that any notes are out of view and your background is clear. 
  • Have a glass of water to hand.  
  • Ensure any prompts (post-its or notes) are within the eyesight of your computer so you do not lose eye contact by looking down at notes and use these as a prompt only, if you try reading your speech may sound stilted. 
  • Try to relax and speak slowly, focus on the camera and smile. 
  • Lean forward – this will help you to look interested. 
  • Turn off other programs on your computer, as this could slow the connection, or you could be distracted by notifications.   
  • Be yourself – the interviewer wants to meet the real you. They expect some nerves. 

How to keep calm and manage nerves

  • Understand all candidates will have an element of feeling nervous, it is inevitable.  
  • Breathe and relax - try taking some calming breaths before the interview, and during the interview slow your speech down, pausing for thought is always a good idea. ​ And remember to smile! 
  • Use visualisation to help you remain confident, for example, imagine completing the interview successfully.  
  • Know what to expect by reading all the documents you have been given and do a technical run through.  
  • Practise and prepare as much as possible, including rehearsing answers out loud. 
  • Try to relax the night before an interview: get your clothes ready for the next day and have an early night. 
  • Practise confident body language: even if you feel nervous you can still smile. This will look confident even if that’s not how you feel. 

How to manage if things go wrong

Technology issues happen to everyone from time to time. In an interview situation it is how you respond or react that will leave a lasting impression on the interviewer. So prepare for what you will do if things don’t go to plan, for example, having the email or telephone number of the interviewer to hand so you can make contact with them if there are any technical issues.  

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