The back-to-uni season is among us, and with that, come the replies to all those applications you sent out in a mad panic last term!
The next stage for most of those will be video interviews.
If you’ve been selected, congratulations!
Here are some of our top tips on how to excel in them:
The Set Up
- Make sure light is coming from in front of you. This is the most flattering lighting and will help your video look professional. Natural light is best, but if it’s late, you can use a lamp to create the right lighting. If you’re not sure if it’ll be light enough, take a couple of photos on your laptop webcam before the interview and review them to check.
- Dress smart. Consider the dress code as you would an in-person interview. Some people prefer to wear a smart top and comfy trousers out of shot. This is fine, but only if you are sure you definitely won’t need to get up at any point mid-interview! A blazer and trackies is questionable #style.
- Have the basics to hand. Some people find it useful to have their basic information and a bullet point list of their experience to hand, in case they go blank mid-interview. This can help, but if you do decide to do this, it should only be as a memory cue or reassurance. You want to be as natural as possible, which is the opposite of scripted answers or reading off of a sheet.
- Make sure you won’t be interrupted! This applies to online factors as much as in person. Online, make sure your phone is on silent, your laptop pop-up notifications are off and you’ve closed all your other tabs. In terms of your physical surroundings, make sure you are guaranteed to have the space you’re in for the duration of the interview (eg. if you’ve booked a room in the library), let your near flatmates/friends know that you’ll be busy for the allocated time and lock the door.
- Know the details of the interview, especially in regards to timings. Some video interviews have a time limit to answer questions, but many don’t. If there isn’t a time limit, really make the most of it! Take your time to think about your answer and make sure you’re fully confident before answering.
The Interview Itself
- Feel odd talking to a camera? Put a sticker next to the webcam! This is actually pretty useful, as it gives you a focal point which isn’t staring right down the camera lens. This can make it easier to maintain seeming eye contact and take pressure off of yourself.
- Plan ahead. When answering questions, think about the structure of your answers. You will usually have a limited time in which to answer, which you don’t want to waste rambling. A good template is to directly address the question, back it up with some of your experience and finish with a neat conclusion. Personally, I like to use the STAR method – Situation, Task, Action (yours specifically), Result.
- Smile! I literally write notes to myself to smile at the top of my notes whenever I do presentations – because it works! When you’re in the moment you can completely forget these kinds of little things. Smiling makes you seem more confident and approachable.
- Remember tone and body language. Just because you’re behind a screen, it doesn’t mean that these are not incredibly important. Relax and talk as you usually would. Make sure you have good body posture and sit up straight. If you’re like me and usually use your hands when talking, go for it! You should sit and talk just like you were having a formal interview across the table with someone.
- Showcase your experience during the interview. Interview questions won’t always directly ask about your experience. Rather, where appropriate, your answers should demonstrate examples of experiences that you have had and how they have helped contribute towards your development.
- Relax! Congratulations for completing the interview! Take some time for yourself.
- Think about what went well, and what you would change next time. Take a few minutes to reflect on what you felt well about your interview responses, and what constructive changes you would make for next time. These can be as simple as changing your interview environment, remembering to smile more or having a glass of water to hand! Whatever you decide, take away the positives and then move on. The process is finished now.
- Carry on with life as you wait for a response. Responses can take several weeks, so don’t stress and continue with the rest of your university life until you hear. If it’s not the news you were hoping for, at least you’ve gained some experience in the process which will make it far more familiar (and less daunting!) next time. Worrying over your answers won’t help and will likely make you second-guess yourself.
And there you have it!
Good luck with your interviews and applications.