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3 things I learned about (video) interviews

12th May 2020

Job interviews are hard. Job video interviews are harder. Job video interviews during a global health crisis are hardest. I have recently submitted my PhD thesis and already went into this crisis as unemployed, living on my last savings and quite urgently looking for a job. The outlook of having to do job interviews online due to and in the midst of coronavirus did not makes things easier. But through practice and preparation I not only managed to start feeling comfortable (as much as that’s possible for a job interview), but also landed an exciting job through ePlacement Scotland. Here are my top 3 things to keep in mind to avoid disaster.


(Remember this one? Cute on telly, but maybe now in your job interview ��)

1.It’s the same as a face-to-face interview.

No matter what the medium, an interview is an interview and here are certain things you need to do whenever one of those comes around.

  • Prepare: be ready to talk about the experience and skills you have already raised in your application. Be able to explain them and give background information. The ‘Why’s and ‘How’s are important here because those are things you probably did not have room to expand on in your application. Think about where you want to go and how that job fits into your plan.
  • Be professional: even though you’re at home, this is a professional setting. Showing up to your interview in a stained hoodie and greasy hair is probably not going to get you far. Specific to a video interview: your background. Ideally, you’ll find a neutral background (white wall) to sit in front. If you have to opt for a less neutral background, make sure it’s tidy. A messy bed with an empty pizza box sitting on top of it is likely not going to give a good impression.


  • Get to know the organisation before and during the interview: this piece of advice has been given to me recently and helped quite a bit in getting myself in a healthy, confident mindset for job interviews. The point of an interview is not just to scrutinise you, but also for you to figure out if this is an organisation you want to work for: what’s the working atmosphere like? What does a typical day look like? Is this somewhere you would actually enjoy working? You have skills to offer and that you have got an interview shows you that the organisation already believes that you can do the job – otherwise they wouldn’t have invited you. So now it’ll be about getting to know each other and exploring if you are a good fit for each other. This involves researching the organisation before the interview and preparing a few questions to ask during the conversation.

These are essential components to a successful interview. There are numerous sources out there to help you with this, last but not least ePlacement Scotland who have great resources available.

2.It’s not the same as a face-to-face interview.

Despite many things being the same, I would be lying if I said there are no differences between video and face-to-face interviews. What you save in time for not having to find where it’s at, how to get there and show up a little early, you have to put into ensuring your technology is working properly. You can be the best candidate for the job, if your microphone isn’t working, you won’t be able to tell your story. Test everything and maybe ask a friend to help you by setting up a meeting with them and see if everything works.

Doing an interview in your own four walls might be something that makes you more comfortable, others might need the professional setting around them to succeed. If the latter applies to you, create as professional an atmosphere as possible. Don’t just put on an interview-appropriate top, but also professional trousers and even shoes if that puts you in the right mindset. (For my first-ever video interview, I was sitting in the jungle of Hong Kong in an old house and even put perfume on especially just to put myself in the right state of mind.)

Also keep in mind that – for better or for worse – your body language will not come across as much as in a face-to-face interview. If you’re used to getting your points and energy across with lively body language, make sure you are prepared to find ways to put this into your spoken language. If you fiddle a lot with your hands when nervous, a video interview might help you to have that go unnoticed. Either way, be aware of your body language and how it is impacted by this scenario. ePlacement Scotland has put a lot of helpful advice together specifically for video interviews and their unique challenges.


(Worst case scenario…)


3.It’s ok to be nervous (even necessary!)

Whereas any interview can make you nervous, doing it online can add extra stress. It always does for me. And that’s ok. I have done six video interviews so far and many more face-to-face ones – and I am nervous every time. One way to make sure it doesn’t overwhelm you is the obvious: be prepared and ensure you’re ready (see point 1 and 2). The other is to actually view a bit of pre-interview jitters as a good thing: it puts my body in state of alert and presence. It’s making me focus and pay extra attention. Also, telling yourself “Don’t be nervous!” will just make you feel bad about not being able to stop the nervousness and add an extra layer of stress. I doubt anyone likes feeling anxious but accepting that this is just part of an interview might help alleviate unnecessary extra stress.

If your anxiety gets on top of you, video interviews can actually be positive because your interviewers won’t be able to see your surroundings. Ergo: you can put up pictures or motivational notes around your screen. Put one-word reminders or small lists in front of you with your most important experience for the job in case you’re worried forgetting something. Of course, you don’t want to be caught reading from a script, but small reminders to make you feel at ease might just do the trick!


Good luck!


Written by Student Elisabeth Loose 

Giffs taken from GIPHY


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