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Video Interviews: 6 Mistakes To Avoid

Video interviews are becoming increasingly popular with hiring managers, but they can pose some unique challenges. Here's how to nail your next one.

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Video interviews have grown in popularity: According to a report by Right Management, 18% of candidates were interviewed via video last year -- more than twice as many as in the year before. According to the report, that trend is set to grow: Two thirds of hiring managers expect this interview format to be used more often in the next few years.

Hiring managers have turned to video over on-site interviews to save time and costs, says Chris Brown, VP of human resources for the unified communications group at InterCall. While they're more convenient for both hiring managers and candidates, they save businesses money, too.

"Video interviews are all about efficiency," Brown says. "There are a number of recruiters working with remote hiring managers, and it just makes the interview process a lot easier for everyone."

[Which tech jobs are the most lucrative? Read IT Jobs: Best Paying Titles Of 2014.]

But video interviews pose unique challenges that on-site interviews don't. Here's are some common mistakes and how to avoid them, plus tips to ace your next video interview.

1. You don't test the software
Hiring managers tend to schedule video interviews back-to-back, which leaves no time for error, he says. Make sure you test the video conferencing software or application before your interview and resolve any plug-in or browser-related problems.

"You don't want to discover any Mac-to-PC issues or that you don't have system admin rights when you log on for the interview," he says. "That's a waste of precious time you could be spending making a good impression."

2. You don't check your webcam and audio
Before your interview, test out your webcam, he advises. You want to make sure that you're not framed too far away or too close up. If you're running dual monitors, remember to look into the camera -- not your monitor -- to make eye contact. Looking into a webcam doesn't feel natural to many people at first, so take time to practice that in advance of your interview.

You should also test your audio before the interview, and use a headset if possible. Computer microphones and speakers don't always produce the best sound, Brown warns, which could pose problems.

3. Your setting is noisy and cluttered
Hiring managers understand that you're probably logging into the interview from home, but that doesn't mean your setting shouldn't be professional, he says. Make sure there's nothing behind or near you that could distract the interviewer.

"You don't want your laundry machine humming in the background, or screaming babies or barking dogs. Those are all distracting," he says. "I've interviewed candidates who did the interview at their workplace with a logo of their company in the background, which is completely inappropriate. Another

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Kristin Burnham currently serves as's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
8/6/2014 | 4:22:30 AM
Asynchronous/recorded video interviewing, anyone?
Great blog post, Kirstin! And nice to see some great points being made in the on-going discussion as well. 

It seems that for majority of folks here, video interviewing equals live video interviewing, such as Skype interviews. However, for majority of recruitment processes, recorded video interviews actually are more suitable and effective than live ones. To mention one big asset of recorded video interviews, there is no scheduling needed and this enables both parties to save a lot of time(and therefore money, of course). 

Feedback we received summarized it perfectly, what we at think about video interviewing: 

"Human touch can be emulated but cannot be replaced." 

Video interviewing works as an excellent pre-screening tool, but only very rarely shoud it replace face-to-face interviews. Instead, it should be used to make sure you won't waste your time interviewing non-suitable candidates. You know, 5 minutes into the interview you know you won't be hiring the candidate, but there's still the full scheduled hour to spend...

Here's a blog post I wrote some time ago about the biggest assets of recorded video interviews compared to live ones. If you're not familiar with recorded video interviewing, make sure you'll give it a try - we offer a free trial, so there's really nothing you can lose! 

Read a blog post: TOP 5 reasons why recorded video interview is better than Skype or a phone interview:

Sign up here for a free trial! 



Samuli Ahola /
Susan Fourtané
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
8/6/2014 | 3:08:38 AM
Video Interviews and what ifs ...
Oh, zerox, zerox,

Did you notice how terribly discouraging your second paragraph is? :( I will try to cheer you up, and maybe look on the bright side of the video interview. :) 

"It's clear that the video interview is a necessary tool to add to your kit, and while I do think these tips will help you to land the job, they also do highlight some of the problems with it."

* It depends on the glass with which you look at it. If you know beforehand what problems may occur you can prepare better in case they occur, which is only a possibility, but not a fact. When you go to a physical interview there are also some possible problems you have to think of in order to try to avoid them just the same, i.e.: What if something happens right before you leave home? What if something happens on your way to the interview? What if something unexpected happens during the interview? A physical interview is no guarantee that everything will go perfect.  

"What if you don't have a home office? Does it really make sense to re-arrange your house for a single interview? No, but the interviewer doesn't know anything about you, so maybe you can't blame him for disqualifying you for that."

* A home office is not literary an "office" in your home. Even if you don't have a desk, or a separate room where you work when you are at home you can create a nice setting for the interview without having to re-arrange your house. Sitting in your livingroom, with a bookstore, painting, or white wall behind is enough. If you have spouse, kids, dog, cat, canary, goldfish, or mouse I am sure they can all go for a walk for an hour to leave you in peace for the interview. Okay, the canary, goldfish, and mouse can stay. You don't need to re-arrange the whole house. You probably do arrangements for some occasions, anyway. 

"Headset and webcam quality varies greatly - should I really invest in good ones? I have no way of knowing how many video interviews I'll ever have."  

* Well you have to put some effort if you are interested in the job, don't you? You can always borrow a headset for a day if you don't have one, or want to buy one. I am pretty sure everyone knows someone who owns a good headset. Most laptops --if not all-- come with a built-in Webcam, don't they? 

"What if the holdups are actually on the interviewer's end, but he blames you? Nothing you can do about that."  

* In that case, you most likely won't want to work for such company, becasue it could be a sample of what you can expect. So, why bother? 

"It seems like there are still too many intangibles." 

* You can only succeed by creating solutions to problems that are already there, or problem that could be there. If you are not willing to give it a try there is no way you can know if you would have had that incredible dream job that could possibly have changed the course of your career, and your life. You need to try things, to give them a chance to be able to tell if they can work well, or not. You see? :) 

User Rank: Ninja
8/5/2014 | 9:59:49 AM
Re: Video Interviews
Thanks for this, Kristin. These are some interesting numbers - 18 percent of candidates have had a video interview in the last year? It may not sound like much, but it's more than you might expect. The noteworthy thing is that it's at least on most hiring managers' radar - which, with the rigidity of many hiring processes, you also might not expect. Still, I'm with Thomas. I think we're moving towards a point where the video interview is used to complement the in-person, not replace it. Not necessarily because it shouldn't - I just think that even if the technology improves to the point where it matches in-person, most companies will stick to what they know.

It's clear that the video interview is a necessary tool to add to your kit, and while I do think these tips will help you to land the job, they also do highlight some of the problems with it. What if you don't have a home office? Does it really make sense to re-arrange your house for a single interview? No, but the interviewer doesn't know anything about you, so maybe you can't blame him for disqualifying you for that. Headset and webcam quality varies greatly - should I really invest in good ones? I have no way of knowing how many video interviews I'll ever have. What if the holdups are actually on the interviewer's end, but he blames you? Nothing you can do about that. It seems like there are still too many intangibles.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 7:50:43 PM
Re: Recording interviews
While convenient for hiring managers, video interviews fail to capture a lot of a person's personality and impose an artificial condition that some people may find uncomfortable. They're more useful to augment in-person interviews, if you ask me.
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 4:36:44 PM
Re: Great tips
@Laurianne certainly, actually Amazon does sell that in several varieties. They're not as economical as the plain white or solid color. But another option is something with some architectural interset that is not too distracting like this
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 4:30:26 PM
Re: Great tips
Ariella, hadn't thought of that -- but better than a messy room.
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 4:22:33 PM
Re: Great tips
@Laurianne perhaps that would generate a market for the false backgrounds photographers sometimes use. Then you can have a very impressive looking bookcase behind you, with books titles to reflect whatever image you wish to project.
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 4:21:11 PM
Recording interviews
While I've never done a video interview, the one that tip struck me was that the interview could be recorded and played for people other than the one you interviewed with. It makes sense, of course, but I had never considered it. Even more of a reason to prepare and put your best foot forward.
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 10:59:48 AM
Great tips
Think about what is in the background of any room at home during any video situation for work -- not just interviews. Your background should be a blank wall, something nondescript like a bookcase or a room that is clearly a home office area.

When I did a video interview, one tricky thing was using my hands as I talked -- it's a bit like giving a presentation. You need to be engaging, but not overwhelming. That can be hard with video -- especially if you are worried about the video quality.
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