Your Complete Guide to Video Interviews (with Example Scripts)

Dana Guterman
Updated: June 21, 2023

After reading this article, you’ll:

  1. Grasp the nuances of various types of video interviews, and learn how to best prepare for each format, ensuring that your technical setup and presentation skills are honed for this digital interaction.
  2. Become equipped to navigate and manage common technical difficulties that may arise during a video interview, thereby reducing stress and maintaining your professional demeanor even in the face of unexpected challenges.
  3. Understand the importance of post-interview etiquette in a remote setup, learning valuable skills such as crafting an effective thank you note and professionally following up with potential employers, which can increase your chances of securing the role.

The lingering effects of the pandemic have pushed more and more internships and jobs to go remote. At the same time, many companies continue to hire new talent. As a result, video interviews are growing ever more popular.

Even before the pandemic, HR.com reported that over half of all firms used video interviewing in 2018. At larger firms (those with 1,000+ employees), that percentage was significantly greater, at 62 percent. By preparing for your video interview now, you can gain a valuable skill set that you’ll use for the rest of your career.

Interviewing via video comes naturally to a lucky few. But for many others (and especially for anyone who’s camera-shy), it can be a challenge. In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics and the details of video interviews, including what to expect, how to prepare, and example answers.


 

What is a video interview?

First things first: let’s break down the basics of a video interview.

A video interview is an interview for an internship or job that’s conducted over video, rather than in-person.

There are three main types of video interviews:

1. Live video interviews using regular video-call software:

Live video interviews using programs like Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts are free and popular. They’re also the closest to an in-person interview. The interviewer will send you a link or ask for your User ID and call you directly. Before you dial in, ensure that your User ID is professional (e.g., not winelover95). Alternately, you can set up a separate profile for professional interactions.

2. Live video interviews using a dedicated interview platform:

Interview software, like HireVue, SparkHire, or Montage, allows companies to conduct live video interviews while seamlessly tracking, recording, and evaluating candidates. This will still feel like a regular interview for you. The interviewer, however, has access to lots of special tools to streamline the process.

3. Pre-recorded video interview questions:

For pre-recorded interviews, you’ll usually get a link to a page where you can record your responses within a set amount of time. The questions will either be pre-recorded, too, or you’ll get written prompts. The pre-recorded format does away with the logistical challenges of live interviews, allowing employers to interview more candidates more quickly.


 

What questions should you expect in a video interview?

In most ways, video interviews are similar to in-person interviews. Most of the same rules apply, and you can expect to answer the same set of questions.

For examples of common interview questions, check out these guides:


 

Sample video interview introduction script

Just as with an in-person interview, you want to make a great first impression for a video interview. You can’t rely on your firm handshake, but you can still radiate warmth and sincerity from the moment the screen flickers on. For a live video interview, here’s what to do.

As soon as the interviewer’s face pops up, say hello. You can say something like:

Hi, I’m Nate. It’s such a pleasure to meet you, Leila. Thanks for making the time to speak with me today. How are you?

At this point, the interviewer will introduce themselves. Then, they’ll probably ask you an introductory interview question. This might include:

If the interviewer doesn’t say anything, take the initiative to introduce yourself. In 45 seconds or less, share your current situation, relevant experiences, and key qualifications, focusing on how you’ll add value for the company. Here’s an example for a video interview introduction:

I’m so happy to be speaking with you today. I’m based in Kansas City, and I’m due to graduate from ABC University next May, with a degree in computer science and a minor in Japanese. At ABC University, I’m vice president of the Robotics Club, where I put my teamwork and leadership skills to work three nights a week, building innovative robots. Last spring, our team took third place in the national student design championship. I can’t wait to apply my experience as your intern, revamping your website to build your talent pipeline and improve the user experience.

If you’re recording your answers, you’ll likely start off with a prompt to introduce yourself. Look into the camera (not at the screen), and begin by stating your name and the position to which you’re applying. Then, launch into your elevator speech.


Navigating the Technical Aspects of Video Interviews

Mastering the technical side of video interviews is as crucial as preparing your responses to potential interview questions. Here’s what you should know:

Ensuring a Stable Internet Connection

The quality of your internet connection can make or break your video interview. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Use a wired connection if possible. Ethernet connections are usually more reliable than Wi-Fi.
  • If you must use Wi-Fi, be close to your router to maximize signal strength.
  • Test your internet speed before the interview. Websites like Speedtest.net can provide this service for free.
  • Close all unnecessary applications and tabs on your device to free up bandwidth.
  • If your internet connection is unstable, consider finding a more reliable location for the interview, such as a library or co-working space.

 

Positioning Your Camera

Your camera position can impact how professionally you come across during the interview. Here’s how to position your camera:

  • The camera should be at eye level. If necessary, prop up your device on books or a stand to achieve the right height.
  • Position yourself in the center of the frame. Leave some space above your head and below your upper body.
  • Practice your setup beforehand to ensure you appear as you want to.

 

Troubleshooting Common Technical Problems

Technical glitches can occur, but don’t let them throw you off. Here’s how to handle common issues:

  • If your sound or video stops working, try a quick restart of your device or the app you’re using for the interview.
  • If your internet connection drops out, have a backup plan ready. This could be a secondary device with a different internet connection, or a pre-written email apologizing for the connection issue and suggesting rescheduling or switching to a phone call.
  • Always have the interviewer’s contact information handy in case you need to reach out about technical difficulties.
  • If there are interruptions or background noise, apologize promptly, deal with the issue, and ask the interviewer if you may continue.
  • Run a technical check before the interview to minimize potential problems.

 

Remember, technical hitches happen to everyone. Demonstrating that you can handle them calmly and professionally can be just as impressive as acing the interview questions!

 


How to prepare for a video interview

A video interview is just as important as an in-person interview, so you need to prepare accordingly. As with all interviews, you want to do your research beforehand, practice your answers to common interview questions, and craft a list of questions to ask the interviewer (if you’re doing a live video interview).

Once you’ve reviewed the interview basics, here are the do’s and don’ts of video interviewing.

Do …

  • Test your webcam, internet connection, and the program beforehand. You don’t want to be late to the interview because you failed to download an extension.
  • Use proper lighting. Computer screens tend to make videos look darker, so added brightness can improve image quality.
  • Log in early. Give yourself five or 10 minutes to ensure you’re logged in, calm, and collected.
  • Check the sound on your computer in advance.
  • Position yourself against a solid color background. Avoid prints and remove any clutter.
  • Dress in professional business attire, just as you would for an interview.
  • Look directly into the camera and remember to smile.
  • Make sure there isn’t any background noise (like music, talking, or phones).
  • Close any open windows or tabs on your computer.

 

Don’t …

  • Speak too quickly.
  • Wear heavy makeup or distracting accessories.
  • Gesture with your hands too much, as it can be distracting.
  • Risk your laptop running out of battery. Ensure it’s fully charged and plugged in.
  • Read your answers. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your resume nearby, but if you’re reading your responses, you won’t be making eye contact—and you’ll sound stilted.
  • Use phrases such as “like,” “um,” or “ah” too often. If you’re about to use one of these, just pause for a moment, and then resume talking.

 

Additional video interview tips

What if you don’t have a web cam? Consider using your tablet or smartphone. If you don’t have regular access to any of these, ask a family member or friend to borrow equipment (just remember to wipe everything down!). If your library’s still open, they might rent you equipment.

What if you don’t have a quiet space to take the call/record your responses? If you can, ask everyone with whom you live to be considerate for the allotted interview time. If that’s impossible, consider going outside. Some libraries have personal rooms you can reserve, too, if they’re open.

What if the video or audio stops working midway through the interview? Don’t panic! A little advance preparation is all you need to get through any technical issues. Before the interview, email the interviewer to ask for a phone number you can call if anything goes wrong. If your video or sound cuts out, just call them up.

What if your interview gets interrupted? If it’s noisy, apologize and mute your microphone until it’s quiet again. If someone walks in or your dog jumps on your lap, apologize and ask to pause the interview while you re-secure the room. Then, mute the microphone and take care of the situation as quickly as possible.

How do you end a video interview? Like any other interview! Express your appreciation and follow up with a thank-you note. If you conducted a pre-recorded interview and don’t have any contacts at the company, you can write a thank you to HR, or just end your last recorded response by expressing your appreciation.


Post-Interview Steps

Once the interview is over, your work isn’t done just yet. Here are a few post-interview steps that could increase your chances of landing the job:

Thank You Note

A quick thank you email to the interviewer is a nice gesture that can leave a lasting impression. It shows your appreciation for their time and reaffirms your interest in the position.

Follow Up

If you haven’t heard back within the timeline provided, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a polite follow-up email. Keep it brief and professional.

Self-Reflection

Use the experience as a learning opportunity. Reflect on what went well and areas where you can improve for future interviews.

Remember, practice makes perfect. With each video interview, you’ll become more comfortable and adept at showcasing your skills and experience in this format. Best of luck with your video interviews!