Video Interviews Dos and Don’ts

by Scott Lawson, HR Manager

The world of recruitment is changing fast and intensely every year. In their quest for talent hiring and HR cost reductions more and more employers choose video interviews for many a number of purposes. According to a research paper conducted by in 2016 – Insights On Video Interviewing – 46% of companies use Skype and other free services to conduct video interviews, while 11% use a dedicated video platform.

When you think about it, video interviewing makes a lot of sense when you look for external workforce, outsourcing, and talent pooling. Many companies nowadays use video interviews for internal hiring as well. The process saves time, costs, and logistics on both ends. According to a Software Advice’s survey, recruiters are 47% more likely to prefer video interviews to other methods.

In this framework, aspiring employees have to switch perspective themselves. Is a video interview different from a face-to-face one? Some would argue there are no significant differences. You still have to make a positive impression and answer smartly and on point to all questions.

Nevertheless, when it comes to technology and a new way of communicating with people via video software, things are not as easy as them seem.  Today, we will discuss a handful of dos and don’ts you need to keep in mind when you attend your future video interview!

Dos for Video Interviews

Starting from the basics, we will work our way into the details of a video interview that should land you a job:

1. Make sure there are no distractions around

Recruiters hate fewer things more, on video or in person. In order to make a positive first impression, you need to take your time and give things some thought. The area around you should look and feel professional. These are the first things you need to consider:

  • No pets in the room while you talk to your potential employer
  • No loud noises (open windows, music, people talking in other rooms of the house, children crying or making noise etc.)
  • No family around whatsoever
  • No clutter – remove all debris from your desk, walls, or doors; if you start with a messy environment, you will not strike your employer as a professional, organized expert in your field; messy rooms also show disrespect for the people you talk to for the next minutes as well.

Make sure you get proper room lighting and a pleasant ambient in the room.

2. Dress Properly

You may hold the interview from the comfort of your home, and that is good. When it comes to dressing up for an interview, remember that what you wear now is just as important as what you wear during a face-to-face meeting. If you think you can pull off an elegant top with pajama bottoms, you are wrong.

In fact, many recruiters ask people to stand up. If you wear your suit and tie with your boxers, you may ruin your chances to land the job.

3. Make sure You Master the Tech

If you want to make a positive impression and promote a friendly environment between you and your interviewer, make sure you rehearse the interview a day before. Check your laptop, webcam, sound system, headphones, the software, the Internet connection, and everything else you can think of.

You will look and feel miserable when you realize your interviewer shows frustration, impatience, or even anger because you cannot seem to make the microphone work in order to tell him how you overcame challenges at the previous workplace.

Since you are here, take your time and adjust some of your accounts’ settings. If you have the video conference account since college, make sure you do not appear with a funky photo or a nickname with a ridiculous sound or look to it. This is not a friendly chat with your friends.

4. Keep Browser Tabs Off

When you are at home and you want to answer all the interviewer’s questions on point, you might feel tempted to cheat. If that is the case, your recruiter will know. Make sure you refrain from keeping open tabs and desperately trying to google or Wikipedia the answers. Moreover, close all your social media windows – sound notifications represent distractions.

5. Control your Voice, Tone, Gestures, and Eye Movements

If you have a live interview – via Skype for instance – you should know you should control your voice speed. Many people speak fast at interviews due to emotions, and tend to speak even faster when in front of a camera.

However, things get a bit more complicated if your interviewer uses a specialized video interview software. These programs come with candidate tracking/screening tools, AI capable of evaluating voice tone, speech patterns, speaking speed, facial expressions, and more.

In other words, do what everybody tells you to do during a face-to-face meeting:

  • be pleasant, but professional
  • be funny but not too familiar
  • be calm and composed, but not rigid and stiff

Your disadvantage is that special video interviewing programs also come with AI bells and whistles a recruiter usually does not have in a conference room.

Don’ts for Video Interviews

Here are some things you should not do and keep a tab on, because such mistakes can lead to making a less than perfect first impression.

1. Do not Cheat or Give Canned Answers

Of course, some questions are the same across all interviews. You should also expect a certain number or type of questions regarding the industry you want to work in. However, recruiters love a polished and well-trained candidate as long as the candidate does not cheat or mechanically repeats cliché answers. Remember that top companies search for top talent.

You are allowed spontaneity, freethinking, lateral thinking, transferable skills, and even a humorous way out of a tricky question. Whether you are in front of a person or in front of a screen, you should not cheat.

2. Do not succumb to Your Emotions

Some surveys showed that failure to make eye contact and failing to smile are the top two body language mistakes a candidate can make – from employers’ point of view. Show them you are relaxed and human. On the other hand, keep your emotions at bay. Let us see what other body language mistakes you should not make, even if you are in front of a screen:

  • Play with something on the desk/table
  • Checking your phone
  • Fidgeting on your seat
  • Tapping fingers on the desk/table
  • Sitting with your arms crossed over your chest
  • Play with your hair, touch your face, bite your nails etc.
  • Using your hands too much
  • Acting too casual to hide emotions

These gestures, motions, entire sets of mannerisms, anxiety, shyness, and others will signal your employer you are not calm and composed and you surely cannot manage a stressful situation. If the video program comes with AI, you will make an even poorer impression.

Remember everything you know about posture and position as well. Even if the recruiter only sees your face mostly, make sure you show confidence, are comfortable, and do not look in pain or on the brink of running.

3. Do not forget to Follow-Up

You should always take time to follow-up after an interview.  Take your time and write a nice, short, polite email to the interviewer to say thank you for the opportunity. In case the recruiter asked you for some extra documents via email, take the opportunity and show you are motivated (without sounding desperate, of course). Recruiters say that people should show interest and motivation for the job during and after the interview.

Related: The Art of Saying Thank You

4. Do not forget to learn from your mistakes

You may fail your first video interview for a number of reasons, none related to your skills or the way you “sold” yourself in front of a screen. What you should not fail, however, is learning from your mistakes and make things better next time.


Video interviews may be tricky sometimes and you should prepare in advance. Keep in mind that your environment and looks matter a lot in such situations, together with your attitude, behaviors, and ability to keep people interested in you, even if you are speaking from your living room and not their office.

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Scott Lawson is an HR manager devoted to his career. During his 5 year work span Scott developed a taste for writing and helping others. This materialized into a website called JobApplicationWorld, that aims to help others tackle the hiring process.

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