How to prepare for a video interview [Step-by-step]

Chances are, at some point during your graduate job search, you’ll be asked to complete a video interview. Naturally, you’ll want to excel in your video interview and successfully progress to the next stage of the interview process. So in this post, we’ll share our step-by-step guide on how to prepare for a video interview

Step 1: Understand the different types of video interviews 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to prepare for a video interview, it is important to note that there are two main types of video interviews: 

1) Live video interviews

Live video interviews are often conducted via online video conferencing software such as Skype or Google Hangouts.

These videos are between you and a graduate recruiter or a member of the team you are applying to join.

It is likely to be quite similar to a telephone interview, but the interviewer will be able to pick up on more of your non-verbal communication skills.

2) Pre-Recorded video interviews

Recorded or one-sided interviews are increasing in popularity, so the chances are, you’ll be invited to take one at some point during your graduate job search. 

If you are asked to complete a recorded video interview, you’ll be sent a link to a video interview platform. 

The email will walk you through how to access the platform and begin your video interview recording.

You’ll be required to record your answers to the video interview questions within the time limit. 

Step 2: Gather as much information as you can about the video interview.

Whilst there are two main types of video interview, your experience will be different for every company. 

Some video interviews are designed to get to know more about you as a person and are relatively informal. 

Others are more rigorous and are designed to see how you function under pressure. 

Before your video interview, find out what will be expected of you. 

You can find this information by doing the following: 

  • Reading the video interview invite very carefully. You’ll usually be sent an email inviting you to take a video interview. It is vital that you read through this email extremely carefully.

  • Re-visit the company’s website and navigate to the page outlining the details of the graduate job that you’ve applied for.

    On that page, you’ll usually find a section about the application process and specifically about the video interview stage.

  • Use websites like Glassdoor to read about other candidate’s interview experiences. This will give you a deeper insight into what to expect. 

When it comes to knowing how to prepare for a video interview, it is vital that you first find out as much as possible about the interview you have been invited to.

Step 3: Practise for your video interview

When it comes to knowing how to prepare for a video interview, practising is one of the most important steps. 

Knowing how to outperform other candidates being interviewed is a skill. 

However, most people are never taught this skill. 

There’s definitely an art and science behind excelling in interviews. 

Here at Graduate Coach, we have been providing interview training sessions for graduates for over a decade now. 

Chris Davies, Founder of Graduate Coach

If you are currently preparing for an interview for a job that you really want, we strongly urge you to contact us

We can help you in two ways: 

  • In-person

    You can book one-to-one interview coaching sessions with a graduate coach.

    Find out more about our in-person interview coaching here.

  • Online

    You can purchase our online interview course called Nail that Interview for just £99.

    The Nail that interview course condenses everything you need to know to succeed in your interviews into 8 hours of interactive content.

    Find out more about our online interview course here

As part of our interview preparation course, we can also arrange for you to take a mock recorded video interview.

This will involve taking part in a recorded mock interview. We will then review it and provide feedback until you gain more confidence and improve your interview technique.

If you will be having a live video interview, make sure that you are familiar with the video conferencing software that you’ll be required to use. Set up a test call with a friend to get familiar with the platform.

If you will be doing a recorded video interview, practise answering interview questions out loud and film your responses. Be prepared to answer questions related to your non-academic experience.

When watching the recording back assess your body language and the clarity of your answers.

Step 4: Find the best location to take your video interview


There’s a lot to take into consideration when it comes to deciding on the location where you’ll do your video interview.

Good internet connection

This is probably one of the most important factors to take into consideration when you are deciding where to take your video interview.

If your internet connection is poor the quality of the video call or video interview recording may be poor.

Video interview background

When it comes to the background of your video interview, keep it simple.

You don’t want the interviewer or the person reviewing your recorded video interview to get distracted by your background.

You want to be the main focus!

Therefore, ensure that your background will be clean, tidy and minimal.

Test out what your background will look like to the employer before you start your video interview by turning on your webcam and seeing what background works best.

Before you start your video interview, check that both your webcam and microphone are working correctly.

Check your camera and microphone

This is a vital check to avoid major problems during your video interview.

If you will be doing a recorded video interview, there might be a prompt before the interview to check your mic and webcam.

Position your camera so that it is at eye-level. You’ll want to ensure that you maintain good eye contact with the camera whilst giving your answers.

Good lighting

You want the interviewer or the person reviewing your recorded video interview to be able to see you clearly.

After all, they will be picking up on your non-verbal body language as well as your verbal responses.

Before your video interview, test the lighting to ensure that you can easily be seen.

You might want to use desk lighting if the room you are in is a bit dark.

If it is a sunny day, ensure that the sunlight isn’t casting shadows over you.

A quiet background without any potential distractions

It is really important that you find a quiet location to record your video interview.

Small background noises could potentially be picked up by your mic which could make it difficult for your voice to be heard.

As well as ensuring that your background is as quiet as possible, minimise any potential distractions. 

If you will be taking your video interview at home, be sure to inform your family members so that they do not interrupt your interview. 

Plan to take your video interview at a time where there is likely to be the least amount of distractions.

If possible, try not to take your video interview in a public place where you can’t control external factors such as lighting or potential distractions. 

Sit in a comfortable chair

During your video interview, it is important that you maintain good posture.

Slouching will make you come across as being less confident.

If you are using a computer chair, avoid swinging on the chair whilst talking, even if you feel nervous.

Male sitting in an office chair

Step 5: Dress appropriately for the company you are applying to

Wear what you would normally wear to an in-person interview. 

Even though only your head and shoulders will be on show, you want to make the right impression. 

Some companies require employees to wear business attire. Whilst Some companies allow employees to choose what they want to wear based on their own judgement. 

It is a good idea to research the company’s culture before the interview to get a good idea of what the employees wear. 

One way to get a sense of what the employees typically wear is to look at the images of staff members on the company’s website. 

Replicate what the employees typically wear. For example, if they wear smart clothing, dress smartly for your video interview.

Tips:

-Avoid bright colours and patterns and go for softer colours instead.

– If you are wearing a tie, wear a solid coloured tie.
-If you wear glasses, adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from the lenses.

Step 6: Make sure you have everything you might need nearby

Before your video interview starts, make sure that you have everything you might need nearby.

Check the video interview invite to see if it states that you’ll need anything in particular such as a calculator or a pen and paper. 

Here are some things you might want to have nearby during your video interview:

  • Notepad/paper and pen
  • A copy of your CV
  • Any notes you took whilst preparing for the interview.
  • Glasses if you may need them
  • A bottle of water
  • Laptop charger
  • Calculator

As well as making sure that you have everything that you might need around you, get rid of any potential distractions.

-Switch off your phone during your video interview

-Close any other tabs that you have open in your web browser

-Declutter the area that you will be taking your video intervie

Step 7: Prepare for unexpected events

With technology, there’s always a chance things could go wrong.

The interviewer understands that unexpected events may occur. They will be interested to see how you deal with such situations.

Many other posts on how to prepare for a video interview miss this very important point.

Here’s how to prepare for unexpected occurrences during your video interview.

  • What to do if your audio stops working

Tip: ask the interviewer for a number that you can reach them on if you get disconnected.

If the video cuts out, call them at that number.

Ask if you can continue the interview by phone or if you can reschedule at a later date.

 • How to handle unexpected noises

If noises (sirens, construction, etc.) interrupt your video interview, don’t just ignore it.

Apologise for the interruption and ask for a few moments until the noise has subsided.

You may want to mute the microphone if the noise is particularly loud or disruptive. 

If someone enters the room unexpectedly 

If someone enters the room while you’re interviewing:

-Let the  interviewer know what has happened
-Ask them for a few moments
-Mute your microphone and turn off your camera
-Deal with the interruption

Before the interview, find out who you’ll need to contact in the event of any technical difficulties.

Sometimes this information will be included in the video interview email invite or on the webpage outlining the application process.

Remember, unexpected events are sometimes unavoidable.

Your potential employer will be very interested to see how you deal with the situation because unexpected events occur in the workplace all the time. 

Knowing all about how to prepare for a video interview questions is one thing but preparing for the unexpected, what to wear and the equipment you may need is an important step.

How to prepare for a video interview: summary

Video interviews are becoming much more popular. Most internship and graduate roles at large companies require candidates to complete one as part of the recruitment process.

Therefore, knowing how to prepare for a video interview is absolutely vital!

Whether it’s a video interview or a traditional face to face interview, preparation is key.

Surprisingly, people only spend on average 36 minutes preparing for an interview.

This is not enough time.

Preparing properly will help you to stand out amongst the other candidates.

Before your video interview, schedule in some time to practise answering questions. This will help you to refine your interview technique.

We hope you find these tips on how to prepare for your video interview helpful.

If you would like further support to prepare for your job interviews, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us

Before you go, if you enjoyed reading our post on how to prepare for a video interview, check out our graduate scheme application tips and our latest posts below.

13 things you can do to restore your confidence after a failed interview

Your last interview was a flop and it’s taken a toll on your confidence. No worries. Here’s 13 things you can do to restore your confidence after a failed interview.

It’s normal for your confidence to take a dive after what feels like a failed interview but no interview is a failure if you extract lessons you can learn from it. Let’s look at what you can do to boost your confidence ahead of your next interview.

Tips to restore interview confidence and learning from a failed interview

  1. The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t already done so, is to ask for feedback from your last interview. Tell the company that this is important to you as it will help you to prepare for future interviews. Then make a note of the lessons learnt and how you can apply them.
  2. Make a list of the things you have done that you are proud of. What have you achieved at college, university and in work, paid or unpaid? If your confidence is so dented nothing comes to mind, ask those who know you and who you have worked with in the past.
  3. Next, make sure you know your CV back to front. Job interviewers tend to use the CV as a guide to talk through your application and you will be asked to elaborate on various points. Be ready. Knowing your CV will help you to talk about your strengths, weaknesses and achievements with greater confidence and honesty.
  4. Take along with you any achievement evidence you can use to demonstrate what you have achieved. This can include published articles, artwork, awards or letters of commendations, perhaps from customers or clients at a previous job.
  5. Research the company you have applied to. Just a few important facts will do. Look at marketing materials, the website, company brochures, local newspapers and annual reports. Look at their LinkedIn company page, the profiles of CEOs, interviewers, if you have their names, and other key employees. Find out what the company’s strengths are. How do they describe their mission, goals and values? Take time to consider these. Where do they fit in with your own mission, goals and values – can you find a synergy?
  6. Prepare with a mock interview. There are lots of example interview questions online you can use to get an idea of what’s typically asked at an interview. These include: What do you think you can bring to the role? Why do you want this role? What are your strengths/weakness? What do you consider to be your major achievement? Why are you the best person for the job? How do you manage yourself/time? What steps would you take to handle an irate customer/client? Why should we hire you? Note: please don’t over prepare to the extent that your answers sound robotic – it’s simply about having a general idea of what you might say.
  7. Have some questions to hand you can ask the interviewer. You can find some examples online too, but others may come up simply through the research you do on the company.
  8. See yourself doing well at the interview. Seeing is believing, and by seeing yourself in a positive light during the interview it will trick your brain into believing you will do well. See yourself walk into the room, smile and give a firm handshake. Tell yourself, “I am looking forward to my interview at … Company.”
  9. Wear something smart but comfortable for you, and give yourself plenty of travel time. Better overly early than even a little late. Take a few deep breaths before going into the interview room to help you to relax. Make eye contact and hold your materials in your left hand so that you can easily shake hands with your right without it feeling awkward.
  10. It’s okay to take a few seconds to think before answering a question and, as long as you don’t do this after every question, to ask the interviewer to clarify or repeat anything you didn’t understand.
  11. When answering questions, try to find a story to illustrate each one. Give examples of yourself in the exact scenario the interviewer is asking about. This will help the interviewer to build a picture in his or her mind of your capabilities, and it will leave a positive impression.
  12. An important part of your communication is body language. People only hear 10 per cent of what you say and the rest they ‘hear’ visually. So, smile periodically. Speak in higher energetic, not dull and tired, tones. Be enthusiastic. Use words that paint a positive picture – bright, boost, overcome, thrilled – and which feel natural to you. Using active words to describe your achievements – ‘I completed the task’, ‘I boosted results’, ‘I jumped right in’, ‘I grabbed the opportunity’ – can also help.
  13. Finally, leave a lasting last impression with a hearty handshake, warm smile and a “Thank you for seeing me.” Together, these tips can help restore your confidence after a failed interview. Good luck.

Together, these tips can help restore your confidence after a failed interview. Good luck!

How we help

Nail That Interview Course: The 5 key reasons why people fail at job interviews with Chris Davies

Nail That Interview Online Course will teach you everything you need for interview success. Chris Davies discusses the 5 key reasons why people fail at job interviews.

One-to-One Coaching: Stage 4 and Stage 5

If you’re a student or graduate looking for help, stage four of our one-to-one coaching: applying for jobs, how to find jobs, how to network, support on applications includes keeping your confidence up when you fail an interview / don’t hear back.

Stage five of our one-to-one coaching: Interview preparation includes extensive coaching on interview technique, training on how to research a company, how to ask the best questions, how to end an interview, conduct mock interviews to simulate interview conditions, full analysis and feedback on interview technique.

The Student Book & The Graduate Book: Get (& Thrive In) The Job You Really Want

Chris Davies is the author of The Student Book, All you need to know to get the job you really want and The Graduate Book, All you need to know to do really well at work. The Student book discusses the 9 Employability Skills, how to create a CV that highlights your achievements and things to consider before and during an interview.

Watch

What graduate recruiters look for | Career coaching for graduates

What do you know about us? | Researching a company before an interview

Overcoming interview nerves

How to use your research in interviews

An impressionable interview

Questions with Chris Davies | Preparing for interview

The 1 thing NOT to do if your mind goes blank during an interview

Do you worry your mind will go blank during an interview? What do you do when your mind suddenly goes blank during the middle of answering interview questions?

We’ve all been there – in the middle of speaking, you lose your train of thought, information at the tip of your tongue vanishes from your brain and your mind is completely blank.

You are not alone.

It has even happened to famous actors – remember the tongue-tied Sally Field during her 2007 Emmys acceptance speech?

While this may be no big deal when chatting with friends, it can feel like a catastrophe when it happens during a job interview.

Here’s what you should not do if your mind goes blank during an interview

The one thing you should not do if your mind suddenly goes blank during an interview is to sit there with an equally blank expression on your face!

The very best way to assuage these fears is to review a set of strategies that you can employ when and if the dreaded blank mind strikes you during an interview or other important speaking engagement.

So what can you do if you find yourself in this dreaded situation?

Here are 4 strategies to help if your mind goes blank during an interview:

  1. Silence can be golden – When you are in the middle of a brain gap, the seconds can feel like hours and you can become positive that everyone around you is scrutinising your silence. In reality, long pauses can actually be used to make your words more effective and can give you a few precious moments to collect your thoughts. Try practising in front of a friend and forcing yourself to pause for longer than you think feels comfortable. You may find that a strategic series of pauses can emphasise your points and drive home the message that you are thoughtful, well-spoken and level-headed. Use it in your favour.
  2. Be honest and ask for help – There is nothing wrong in saying that your mind has gone blank. If you find yourself struggling to remember what you were saying, try gently asking for help from your interviewer. Something along the lines of, “I’m afraid I got so caught up in what I was talking about that I seem to have lost my place. Where was I?” Your listener should have no problem prompting you to help you get back to your original point.
  3. Don’t be afraid of notes – Depending on the position for which you are interviewing, a small notebook that enables to you take notes during the meeting can make you seem like a smart candidate who plans ahead. Your small notebook will enable you to make brief notes as you go, or to bring in a general outline of what you plan to talk about. If during the interview you feel you want to digress in order to illustrate a point, you can jot down the original point you want to return to for when you need it, or vice versa.
  4. Say something – anything! Finally, and perhaps the most importantly – say something! If you remain silent with a panicked expression on your face, your anxiety and your interviewer’s trepidation will grow and grow. While you may feel a bit off-topic or rambling, saying anything relevant to your topic can kick start your brain back into high gear and get your interview back on track.

Why does your mind go blank during an interview?

two ladies in an interview setting. image for what to do if your mind goes blank in interviews.

Unless you have a medical issue, the cause of your blank mind is likely to be due to you becoming distracted. You have more than one thing on your mind and you are likely trying to remember them all at once.

During an interview scenario, the added stress of wanting to come across well to others can make us forget what we want to say because we’re juggling so many points.

Worrying over your interview increases the risk of your mind going blank.

The cruel irony is that the more you worry about coming up blank during an interview, the more likely it is to happen.

Chartered psychologist Bev Stone did some work on people who experience blank minds while presenting and says that it is better to be ‘distracted in that you’re not that bothered whether you win or lose’.

This is easier said than done during an interview when you want the job really badly but you will find that you will relax physically and mentally and therefore perform far better.

How to avoid brain freeze in an interview

As with all things in life, preparation is key.

We mentioned above, your mind goes blank during interviews because you become distracted.

An interview question that you did not prepare for gets thrown your way and your mind instantly starts racing through different potential answers triggering some interview anxiety followed by your mind going completely blank.

The truth is, most people do not put enough time into preparing for their interviews.

Before you attend your interview you:

  1. Must know what your key skills are and how they are transferable to the role that you are applying for.
  2. Should know the job description inside out and be able to outline some of the challenges that you might face in the role.
  3. Should have excellent answers for competency-based questions prepared in the STAR format.

Here at Graduate Coach, we train students and graduates on how to prepare for and excel in interviews. The 3 pointers above are only a few of many tips and techniques that we instil in the people we help. Who then go on to land their dream job after training with us.

Over the years we have helped many people who have suffered from interview anxiety and as a result, they lose confidence.

Many of them come to us reporting: ‘I go blank during interviews’ or that ‘I blanked on an interview question’. Others come to us asking: “why does my mind go blank when asked a question?”

If you can relate to this, get in contact with us today!

You can call us on: +44 (0)207 014 9547, or emails us on:

gethelp@graduatecoach.co.uk and one of our friendly team members will outline how we can help you to overcome your interview anxiety, regain your confidence and ultimately land your dream career!

Some related resources:  

  1. Take the first two modules of our interview course for FREE!

    Get access the course here: https://graduatecoach.co.uk/online-coaching/

    Our Founder, Chris Davies created the ‘Nail That Interview’ course to help students, graduates and career changers to get the job they really want.

  2. To emphasise the importance of preparing for your interview we’d encourage you to watch this video:

In this video, Chris talks about the types of questions we need to be prepared for. He also elaborates more on what to do if you get asked an interview question that causes your brain to freeze.

3. To discover why people fail interviews, we’d encourage you to watch this video:

You can book a FREE 15-minute coaching call with Chris Davies!

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