15 Video Interview Tips: Your Checklist for Success

Whether you’re applying for an entry level financial position or looking to move into a more senior role, after passing an initial phone interview, you may be offered a video interview instead of an in-person meeting.

While the pandemic undoubtedly brought video calling into the mainstream, the process of interviewing potential employees is one task that many finance companies have been conducting via video call for a number of years. Convenient, efficient and easier to manage, video interviews are now something that many applicants are likely to experience.

Prepare for your upcoming video interviews with our top video interview tips below. Let’s dive in!

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How video interviews work

Video conferencing – whether it is via Zoom, Teams or Google Meet – has become a standard business practice, a trend particularly accelerated by the recent pandemic.

When applying for a new financial position, your intended target may be miles away in another city. To attend an in-person interview, you’d have to take time off, losing money in the process, then spend hours travelling there and back. With a video interview, you can stay exactly where you are. The amount of time you’ll need for your interview is generally between thirty to ninety minutes.

Theoretically, being able to stay in your own familiar environment should make the interview more relaxing. But there is still the pressure of impressing your recruiter within a limited time.

And while many video interviews are carried out by a human recruiter, there is a growing proportion that use artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Recruiters see the benefit of such systems, with 85% predicting that AI will replace some parts of the recruitment process in the near future.

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The role of AI in remote interviewing

As quickly as AI is being introduced in video interviews, it’s also causing some controversy. While 29% of recruiters predict they will lose their jobs as technology takes over the interview process, 25% of interviewees aren’t comfortable with job allocations being left to robots. However, such scenarios are perhaps unnecessarily alarmist.

Digital recruitment services such as HireVue are already in use amongst prestigious firms including JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, who use pre-recorded video interviewing which they state has helped them to increase the number of applicants they’re able to screen for analyst jobs.

Systems like HireVue work by recording a candidate answering a range of pre-selected questions via video, and the footage is then analysed by advanced machine learning algorithms. Their processes have been formulated with the assistance of psychologists, and use software that has been developed to determine an interviewee’s character and suitability by noting almost imperceptible body movements, facial expressions and voice intonations. It can even decide if your clothing is appropriate.

The system uses technological analysis instead of the recruitment manager’s intuition regarding the suitability of an applicant. The purpose is to incorporate uniformity across the recruitment process and find new recruits who match the company’s ideal employee. Critics may perhaps think the system works against financiers who combine genius with eccentricity, which can be a valuable trait in the sector. However, for the majority of applicants in finance, a video interview with or without AI should be quite acceptable.

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Common video interview questions

The questions asked during a video interview are designed to find out more about your attitude, personality and work ethic.

When asked to give anecdotes regarding your work experience, keep the narrative concise. Prepare examples before hand to remember key points to put across, so you’re better prepared and can think quicker on your feet.

Try to use examples that are representative of the role you are applying for. Such questions may include:

What do your colleagues and managers think of you?

Providing an insight into your skills from another person’s point of view can be unnerving. It can help highlight your strengths, such as being a reliable team member.

You can also include a trait your manager would like you to improve and whether you think you agree with him.

What difficulties have you had to overcome in your career?

You could include challenges such as studying to gain a finance qualification while also working full time. Perhaps you had to learn another language to work abroad.

The question seeks to understand how determined you are to achieve a goal.

What made you decide to apply for this role?

Focus on the exciting challenge of working for the company.

Highlight forthcoming projects you have learned about and why you’d like to be involved.

While financial compensation is one of the top reasons why anyone applies for a financial role, it should not be the answer here.

Instead, focus on explaining why you think the role is a good match for your personality, what impresses you about the company, and how you intend to progress.

Do you think you’ll contribute anything significant to this job?

You can rely on your particular strengths to answer this question.

Highlight traits such as perseverance and determination, with concrete examples.

The interviewer wants to find out how confident you are through evaluating your own worth.

Do you have enough experience to take on this position?

This is your chance to relate incidents that have helped you learn the exact skills the new job requires.

Be honest and avoid the temptation of exaggerating.

If there is anything you feel you can improve upon, say what practical steps you have taken such as up-skilling with additional qualifications or attending a course.

Can you work under the pressure of strict deadlines?

Provide an answer that highlights character traits such as composure and being highly organized.

Try to give a specific example of a particularly tough assignment you had to complete at short notice.

Why do you think you would be a competent team leader?

This question delves into how you interact with colleagues.

Leadership qualities such as integrity, organizational skills and decisiveness should be mentioned. Being aware of your colleagues’ range of skills helps build a balanced team.

What do you expect your career will be like in five years’ time?

You might be content to stay in the post on offer or you might want to progress further. Your answer gives the interviewer an indication of how determined you might be.

It shows some thought on whether you’ve thought longer term about the job and industry you’ve chosen.

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15 top video interview tips to secure the job offer

So here are our top tips for your upcoming video interviews:

1. Prepare

You should be forewarned about the type of video interview you’ll be completing to give you time to prepare.

The live version replicates the in-person interview by being conducted via a conferencing link on a platform similar to Skype or Zoom.

You and the interviewer will be able to see each other on PC monitors (or your phone or tablet), and talk in real time. Like a ‘real’ interview, you’ll have to make sure you’re ready to start at the allotted time. Punctuality still matters!

The second version is an automated, recorded video interview where you access a list of questions that must be completed within a set time limit. The advantage is that you can answer the questions whenever you have an opportunity. However, you won’t be able to ask questions yourself. A lot of companies use this version as an intermediate stage before an in-person or live video interview.

Preparation is an important part of a video interview. Only two or three candidates from an average of 250 applicants ever make it to the final round of the interview process. On average, graduates apply for 29 new posts and are invited to attend interviews for only one-third, while only about 1% of applicants for graduate schemes in competitive sectors like finance are successful. 

You clearly face tough competition. Without adequate thought before the event, you are unlikely to make the final shortlist.

2. Check your equipment before the call

A few days before your video interview, check out your equipment.

A major problem if you leave checks until the big day is that you might not have time to fix any issues that come up such as a faulty microphone or an unstable internet connection. 

Testing beforehand helps you check for picture and audio clarity. Speak into the microphone a few times to make sure it’s working correctly. If possible, try video calling a friend with the equipment you plan to use for your interview to make sure you can both see and hear each other clearly.

On the day itself, log in at least 30 minutes before your appointment in order to make last minute checks. Failing to prepare your device for the interview makes you appear unprofessional and incompetent.

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3. Research the company, role and interviewers

Conduct thorough research into the company as early as possible.

Reading press reports should reveal the projects you might be involved in should you be accepted. It helps demonstrate your knowledge of the company. 

It’s also worth taking the time to understand as much about the role as you can.

Whether you’re interviewing for investment banking, or want to get into portfolio management, understanding the typical career path and the roles and responsibilities of the position you’re applying for will enable you to talk about how this fits with your skills, experience and plans for the future.

Discover who the CEO of the firm is, and how much you understand the role you’ve applied for. You can even feel more confident in a live video interview if you know who will be talking to you. Search for details on LinkedIn and the company’s blog.

4. Follow access instructions carefully and be on time

Approximately 16% of employees arrive late at least once a week. Poor timekeeping is always frowned upon by managers as it impacts negatively on productivity and lowers morale when part of a team. 

Being late for your interview is sure to be detrimental to the entire process. Being unable to follow basic access instructions is also a negative point.

5. How to dress and what to wear

Professional attire is absolutely necessary for video interviews.

Wear both halves of a classic, well-cut suit just as if you were attending in person.

Men should wear a tie, ladies should choose demure necklines. Avoid pinstripes and patterns to prevent strobing effects on screen. Thin stripes or detailed patterns don’t always get picked up well by cameras and can lead to distractions. Opt for a plain shirt if possible, and limit jewellery to one or two discrete pieces. Anything too sparkly could interfere with the clarity of the screen.

It’s also worth thinking about your surroundings. For example, if you’re attending the interview from somewhere with a white or cream wall, pick an outfit in a darker colour that contrasts with the backdrop to avoid blending in too much.

6. Use a suitable location and background

Think carefully about what might be in view during your interview. Avoid showing distractions such as inappropriate artwork, a pile of unsorted junk, or unwashed dishes. Either display a very tidy home office or a plain background. Make sure the colour scheme of the room tones with your clothes rather than providing a gaudy contrast. 

Lighting is also a key issue. If possible, use natural daylight by placing your laptop near a window. Avoid positioning yourself directly in front of the window, as this can cause contrast issues and make you less visible. Instead, a better option is to position yourself so that a widow is to the side of you.

If you don’t have suitable access to daylight, or the interview is taking place outside of daylight hours, then you’ll need to think about lighting. Use a lamp or LED light positioned in front of you so that the light can illuminate your face. It’s also important to use additional lighting for the background so that you don’t appear to be floating in the darkness. 

7. Be aware of your environment and eliminate distractions

Although you may have chosen a quiet, tidy room for your interview, you have to account for external distractions. Close the windows to lessen noises such as dogs barking or heavy traffic. If road works are scheduled outside your home on your interview day, it might be quieter at a relative’s house.

If you live with friends and family, make sure they are aware that you’re attending an interview so that they don’t disturb you or create excessive background noise. If you have pets or young children, try and get another family member or a friend to supervise them while your interview is in progress.

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8. Have a practice call with a friend

A few days before, hold a practice interview with one of your friends to familiarize yourself with how the equipment works. Recording your mock interview gives you the chance to check how professional you and your background look. Try out a few questions to see how you react when you answer them.

This will give you a chance to familiarize yourself with controls like making sure your camera is on and you’re not muted to help things run smoothly during the real thing. You can also make any adjustments to your position or background to get everything set up perfectly.

Answering a few practice questions not only helps you to prepare the types of answers you’ll give and topics you’ll talk about, it can also help to calm your nerves a bit. The whole experience won’t be completely new during your interview, so you’ll be less focused on the logistics and can give your full attention to engaging with recruiters.

9. Be mindful of your body language

While it might be a myth that over 90% of communication is non-verbal, body language is still an important factor in how we communicate, the impression people have of us, and the way what we say is interpreted. 

During your interview, pay attention to your posture and the message it conveys. You should sit straight and on no account slouch in your chair. Avoid fidgeting as it indicates nervousness and a lack of concentration on the discussion. Ensure your voice is well-modulated when heard over the microphone as it helps give an air of authority. Try not to cross your arms as this can be a sign that you’re not open to the conversation, and keep facial expressions friendly and genuine. 

Body language is important, particularly if your interview is using a system such as HireVue, but try not to overthink it. If you let talking about your experience, skills and passion for the role lead the conversation, your body language and micro-movements should naturally reflect the message you want to get across.

10. Look at camera and make ‘eye contact’

Maintaining eye contact is very important during a video interview as it shows your attention is fully engaged. Such enthusiasm appears to be a rare commodity when only one in ten workers in Europe and one in three in the US feels engaged at work.

Eye contact is a big part of non-verbal communication, with adults making eye contact somewhere between 30% and 60% of the time during a typical conversation.

Eye contact is essential for demonstrating that you’re fully engaged in the conversation, whether you’re listening or speaking. It conveys respect for the person you’re interacting with, and also lets people know that you’re confident in what you’re saying.

To ensure recruiters know you’re attentive during a video interview, try to look at the camera, rather than the screen itself. While it can be difficult to essentially look over the tops of people’s head when you’re talking to them, try to use the 50/70 rule which suggests the it is best to make eye contact 50% of the time when you’re speaking, and 70% of the time when you’re listening to others talk.

11. Use facial expressions

Your facial expressions have a great influence over your interview and combined are perhaps the clearest form of non-verbal communication that we use on video calls. Keep them restricted to a few genuine smiles and that all-important eye contact. 

On no account roll your eyes, grimace, grind your teeth or look as if you are stifling a yawn. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before your interview to help your nerves and facial muscles appear relaxed.

12. Speak confidently about your experience and qualifications

The interviewer will be hoping you are the confident, experienced and efficient candidate the company longs for. You can prove them right by keeping your breathing steady. It should make you appear relaxed and sure of yourself. 

It’s natural to feel nervous during an interview, which can sometimes lead to speaking too quickly or rambling.

Try to speak clearly and at a moderate pace; you’ll often find that if you feel like you’re talking too slowly, you’re actually speaking at the right speed for others to be able to follow and understand what you’re saying.

Review recordings of yourself answering practice questions, and adjust your pace as necessary until you’ve got it just right.

When asked about your work experience, have a couple of examples rehearsed. Keep the details relatively concise and avoid boasting. Instead try to focus on how your experience will directly benefit your potential new employer, or how your skills demonstrate your ability to complete certain tasks that will be part of your new role to a high level.

In regards to qualifications, interviewers will have assessed your credentials from your CV or resume. It’s likely that employers will value CFA chartership or other financial qualifications that are relevant to the role, however an interview gives you an opportunity to briefly discuss how you can put into practice what you’ve learned in a way that will benefit their business.

13. Have notes and visual aids out of shot

You might feel more confident if you have a few notes to prompt you about past projects you want to speak about. Position them where you can see them easily without appearing distracted. It’s important to keep them out of camera shot so that your conversation appears spontaneous and flowing naturally.

Try and use aids to prompt you like single words, phrases or images that you can tell a story around. It’s best to avoid writing out lengthy notes as you can wind up sounding like you’re reading from a script, and if your pre-prepared answer doesn’t quite fit with the direction of conversation then you might become flustered.

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14. Have pen and paper to take notes

Many people often take notes during a video interview to remind them of anything they want to ask a question about at the end. If you’re unsure, you can ask the interviewer before your conversation begins if it’s acceptable to take a few notes. They could be impressed with your diligence.

Taking notes also means you can jot down important details, which is useful if you’re interviewing for a few positions and want to be able to evaluate a job offer and compare things like benefits packages, for example, without having to rely on remembering everything.

However, try to avoid writing too much down as the main purpose of the interview is to have a conversation with the recruiter rather than take notes about everything they say. You also need to make sure you don’t become distracted as this can come across as if you’re not fully engaged.

15. Follow up via email

It is considered good manners to send your interviewer an email to thank them for talking to you. It also provides you with an opportunity to express your growing interest and enthusiasm for the job now you’ve heard more about its details.

Keep emails professional, brief and to the point. While you might be eager to know what they thought about you, don’t be tempted to chase up your interviewer for a decision or to provide feedback on how your interview went, especially immediately following the session.

Let the recruiter come back to you with their decision in their own time, and if it’s a “no” then you could politely ask for feedback in case there’s anything that can help you improve going forwards.

Best of luck for your video interview! Let us know how it went and if you’ve further tips to share with a comment below.

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