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How to Fail a Video Interview

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The rise of remote, hybrid and flexible working across the globe has changed the world of work for good. Businesses no longer need to restrict themselves to their local area when searching for talent, and workers don’t need to commit to long, gruelling commutes to do their jobs.

Because of this, more businesses are utilising technology to recruit and onboard new hires, with remote video interviewing becoming increasingly common.

There’s countless blogs and articles out there giving you plenty of advice of things to do when you are interviewing for a role via video call, but there’s not all that many articles out there on what NOT to do.

We sat down with our Recruitment Experts to talk about some of the biggest faux pas that they have seen candidates make whilst they are interviewing remotely, so that you don’t inadvertently make these mistakes!

Location, location, location

Where you chose to locate yourself whilst conducting your interview can not only have a huge bearing on how you perform, but also on the interviewer’s impression of you.

Interviewing from your bed, for example, can come across as ‘lazy.’

It is understandable that some people may work from their bedroom; remote working caused many of us to create office set-ups where there were previously none, and if you’re in a flat share, your bedroom is also your office. However, try not to be visibly sat on your bed, and if possible, use a ‘green screen’ background to disguise the bed in the background!

Take a step back with clear eyes and look at the background of your setup. You would be surprised just how many people don’t consider that FHM poster that they’ve had on their walls for 10 years, but when it pops up in the background of a video interview it comes across as incredibly unprofessional.

One of our recruiters recently conducted an interview where the interviewee was situated in their kitchen – and in the background were several other people, talking loudly and preparing food. This is incredibly distracting for the interviewer, so before your interview chat to those you share space with to ask them for an hour of uninterrupted privacy!

For this reason, you should also avoid a loud, public location. You want the interviewer’s attention to be completely on you, and for them to be able to understand everything that you are saying. Sitting in a city centre Starbucks however would be loud, distracting, and off-putting.

Check your view through your computer’s built-in webcam before you join the meeting. Make sure you are positioned in a well-lit area and your background is clear, and ensure that you are centre frame and not too zoomed in. The last thing you want is for your interviewer to be spending 40 minutes looking up your nose!

Sort your Tech out in advance - don’t leave it until 5 minutes before the interview time to check that your webcam and microphone work!


Some of these points may seem obvious to you. But bear in mind that we’ve put them here because they happen often enough for it to become a pet peeve of a recruiter or hiring manager.

First of all, you may be interviewing from home – but you are still interviewing for a position! Whilst it is important to feel comfortable during your interview, you should still dress to impress. Recently, we’ve seen interviewees arrive for remote interviews in gym gear, sweatpants and hoodies… and even pyjamas. We wish we were joking.

Don’t eat during the interview! Yes, have a glass of water or mug of tea close by to swig from to keep yourself hydrated, but eating your lunch on the call... not so much. The same applies for smoking – the middle of an interview, no matter how stressful, is not the right time for a cigarette! Do you have a habit of chewing gum? Save it for after the interview.

If you are going to have a drink on the call, please make sure it’s non-alcoholic! Swigging a can of beer or glass of wine, no matter how nervous you are, is not a good look.

Put your mobile phone on silent and DO NOT look at it during the interview. It will distract you. And whatever you do – don’t answer another call, no matter how important it seems!

Be engaged with your interviewer(s). Be sure to appear attentive, not like you’d rather be anywhere else! Don’t sit there picking at your split ends, or staring out of the window, or **shudders** picking your nose. Again – we wish we were exaggerating! Don’t forget where you are just because it’s a video interview.

Oh… and whatever you do – don’t fall asleep on the call. Do we even need to explain why this one is bad?!

Basically, if you wouldn’t do it in an in-person interview, don’t do it in a video interview.

Video interviews offer a lot of bonuses. There’s no travel to the interview site, there’s opportunity for you to have some notes to refer back to (out of sight of the screen!), and you’re in a familiar location where you should feel more comfortable and at ease.

However, don’t take this to mean that all interview etiquette goes out of the window. You are still aiming to make a great first impression and showcase why the interviewer should want you on their team.

What’s the strangest video interview faux pas you’ve ever seen? Head our socials and let us know – we’d love to hear it!

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