If you are applying for remote roles or if you are looking for jobs during this period of social distancing, mastering video interviews is very important. Likely you have some experience with taking phone and even some Zoom/Google Hangout interviews in the past, but we wanted to compile a list of video interview tips so that you go into these calls with confidence.
Most companies follow the same general interview flow:
- Phone screen with HR/recruiter
- Technical phone or video interview
- Onsite/video interview, which includes technical, behavioral, and cross-functional interviews
We have worked with hundreds of people through their phone screens and the rest of their interviews so that they can land great jobs and we wanted to share some of our top tips to prepare for these video interviews so you can go in with confidence.
1. Learn what is important to the company
You need to research the company before your phone screen and all behavioral interviews so that you have a good understanding of the company’s mission, values, and products.
Knowledge of the company mission will help you when you talk about yourself, in your elevator pitch (introduction) and throughout the behavioral questions. You want to connect your experience and goals to the company’s values so they know you are a good culture fit. Check out the company’s About page, Culture page, and Jobs/Careers page for information on what they look for in a good candidate and team member. If you are looking for an elevator pitch template to adapt for yourself, check out our guide.
You should also make sure you have a good sense of the products that the company works on. A lot of people skip this step when they are interviewing with big tech companies because they already use the products. While it is beneficial for you to be a user of the product, so much so that you should consider downloading the app or signing up before interviewing, you should also make sure you read about each product on their website to get a better understanding of the history and goals. You should be able to speak intelligently about how you can drive impact, especially if you are applying for a specific product team, like Oculus at Facebook.
2. Prepare responses to common behavioral interview questions
Don’t let yourself be taken by surprise. There are some questions you know you will be asked, so you should prepare your responses as best you can before the interview. You don’t want to come across as rehearsed, but you do get the added advantage of being behind the computer screen, so you can use notes to help you while you respond.
Phone interviews are typically brief and more conversational, but behavioral interviews in your “onsite” will be more in depth. Some questions you will likely see are:
- What is your greatest weakness and strength?
- Talk about a conflict you have had at work and how you resolved it.
- Share an example of a time you were able to motivate a coworker.
We’ve outlined answers to these behavioral interview questions that you can adapt based on your own experience and background. In general, you should make sure that your answers are succinct and that you avoid rambling. We always recommend that you offer to go into more detail, which gives the interviewer the chance to make a decision on whether or not you should continue talking about that topic.
For even more behavioral interview questions from top tech companies, check out our guide.
3. Practice technical interview questions in the test environment
Working through problems in the test environment is a great way to ensure you go into your interviews with confidence. If you are a software engineer, data scientist, or even product manager, you will likely see technical challenges in HackerRank, so take some time practicing problems on that platform so there are no surprises when you do the real interview.
Set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on what type of problem you are practicing, and work through that entire time so that you mimic the actual experience of participating in a remote technical interview.
4. Plan where you will do the interviews
People often forget to plan where they will actually take their phone and video interviews, which leads to stress and scrambling right before the calls. You want to make sure you are somewhere quiet, where you have good reception/WiFi, and a nice or plain background for the video. It is often helpful to have a notebook or a notes app on your laptop handy too so that you can write down questions as you talk to the interviewers.
Places that are not great for phone and video interviews:
- Coffee shops (too loud and WiFi is not always reliable)
- Outside (could be loud and too bright for the video, reception might not great, and WiFi is not easily accessible)
- Your office (you don’t want to be worried that someone will walk in or hear you interviewing)
Places that are good for phone and video interviews:
- Your apartment (as long as it is quiet – just make sure you have a neutral background behind you)
- A study room in a library (as long as you can speak at a normal volume)
- A phone booth at a coworking space
With the above tips, you should be able to prepare for your phone and video interviews so that you go in with confidence and succeed in each one.
Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With our tips & guidance, job-seekers in our program have, on average, doubled their interview performance scores.
If you want to work with a mentor 1-on-1 to get help with your interviews or any other aspect of the job search, join Pathrise.