Video Interviews, the new normal

By: John Cockerill

Recently TRG needed to hire a new social media coordinator. We decided to do initial interviews using online video via Skype. Our colleagues, vendors, and customers are often remote, traveling, on client sites or situation where video is the best way to communicate. Video interviews also only take a little time out of candidate’s days. This way they could, using share screen function, show their skills and samples of work.

Now our expectations were not high. We expected some base level of expertise given the nature of work and offices today, and with so much access to video calls via different apps on phones, laptops, and computers

Video calls are now common in many businesses and our social lives. Knowing how to use these tools is an important communication skill, like using the phone and having good manners. There are many applications. While they all differ, there are some basic similarities amongst all of these. Here is a short list of some of the applications:




Google Hangouts















When being interviewed, you want to put your best on show. For in-person interviews, you would: show up on time, be well dressed for the position and company, speak clearly to be understood, have copies of your work or other materials if they might be needed to support the decision to hire you.

For a video interview, it is the same. The interview might be done from your home office or even on the road. A few common practices will make you look and seem much more professional and give the best impression.

Experience proved our expectations were out of line with reality. We experienced:

  • No verification of the right connection with the interviewer before the meeting.
  • Poor preparation for the call
  • Hadn’t check that the video was working
  • Poor lighting, important to see facial reactions and emotions.
  • Not knowing the basics of screen sharing and the tool to be used
  • Fussing with hair, not looking at the screen, the interviewer and camera
  • Poor to awful audio due to improper mike and audio set-up.

To get the best chances for success, try the following tips:

  1. Check for the right connection, and it is the person who wants to talk with you. Connect them before the meeting. If there are any issues, you have time to fix them or to create a workaround.
  2. Proper lighting. A couple of lights on you from out of the camera view. No windows or lights behind you. Lighting is especially important if you have darker skin tones. More light is usually better.
  3. Prepare for the call. Check that the video and audio work. Start any programs or applications you might need
  4. Get properly mic’d so the other party or parties can hear you clearly. Good clear audio is important. Test it beforehand to make sure the mic is working, and other parties can hear you clearly.
  5. Know the basic of screen sharing on the application to be used.
  6. Know where to look on the screen, Pay attention to the caller and the camera point. If you not done this before trial doing so with a friend or associate.
  7. Don’t fuss with hair or clothing as it distracts from you and what you are saying.

More tips on good video for interviews and talking on screen at How to Look Better on Video Calls

Here is an excellent example of how to do it well and what to do when it goes wrong. BBC: Children interrupt BBC News interview – BBC News Note, good lighting, well dressed, eyes on the interviewer even with children coming into the office.

Now while this is funny, it is a good example of a good set-up, and interview format. If your income or next job depends on a video interview, take time to prepare for it. Put care into the setup and PRACTICE with the tool(s), and show yourself in the best light.

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