Smile, You’re on Camera: 5 Top Tips for a Successful Video Interview

December 7, 2021

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3 min read

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A video interview can be a very strange experience. Suited and booted, alone in your room and talking into your laptop about why captaining your university football team makes you the perfect candidate for a vacation scheme: not your typical Tuesday afternoon. In such a setup it can be easy to forget that there will be a real person watching your answers, but it is important that you show your personality and your best qualities so that you stand out from the crowd. Follow these 5 top tips to prepare yourself for success and show your best self when the camera is rolling…

1) Do your research

You will most likely be applying for lots of firms at once, and it can be easy to lose sight of what makes each one unique. However, in order to succeed at a video interview you need to show the firm why you would be the perfect fit for them, and why they would be the perfect fit for you. To do this you need to show that you understand which practice areas they specialise in, their core values and their working methods. Then, in your answers, explain why your individual qualities and experiences compliment the firm’s profile.

2) Prepare some answers

You cannot know exactly what will be asked in your video interview, but you can make some sensible predictions. Draw up a list of potential questions, making sure that you read all the information available on their website about their interview format (they might give you some guidance as to what type of questions they will ask or the answer format they are looking for). Some classic questions are: “Why (commercial) law?”; “Why this firm?”, “Why should we offer you the place/contract/job?”; “Tell us about a time when you demonstrated good work ethic/leadership/teamwork/resilience etc”. Once you have made this list you can start to think about how you would answer these questions concisely and clearly. Remember, using specific examples will make your answers relevant, supported and memorable, and prevent you from waffling or panicking. 

3) Time yourself

As you prepare these responses, practice giving your answer out loud and time yourself. Time flies in these interviews and you might be given as little as 45 seconds to answer each question. You should be able to find out how long the system will give you to record each answer. Even if you cannot find this information until the interview starts, it will nevertheless be really useful to know how long it takes you to say everything you want to say so that you can adapt your answers to fit the time given. This will prevent you from running out of time or finding yourself with not enough to say.

4) Set the scene and look the part

Sit in a well-lit room, with as little background noise as possible and avoid distracting backgrounds. Make sure that anyone you live with knows not to disturb you. Some firms might ask that you wear headphones, some might specify that you should not, so check their guidelines before you start. Make sure your internet connection is secure and your device is well charged. Have some water nearby. If you want to have any notes beside you, make sure these are clear and brief – you don’t want to be looking down while you are speaking so just use them to glance at between questions. Dress smartly and professionally, imagine you are going into the office for your first day in the job.

5) Make eye contact, smile, and try to relax!

Even though the video interview experience can feel very impersonal, your answers will be watched by someone in the recruitment team: a real person who wants to hire candidates who are engaging, personable and charming. Remember you need to show them that you could be an impressive representative of their firm and a valuable member of their team, so your personality matters! Show them that you are someone they want to work with. Make eye contact as you speak, try to relax and give the impression of openness and confidence through your body language: don’t cross your arms, fidget or tense your shoulders. Smiling and letting your personality shine through will help them warm to you and ensure you are not forgotten among the other candidates. 

After each video interview, think about what went well and what you could improve in your next one. Remember, the competition for places is extremely tough and it often takes many rejections before you land the position you deserve, so don’t give up!

Report written by Elizabeth Ambrose

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