In my last few blogs, I shared my insights about the tools and preparation you need to conduct a video interview. This week, I want to share how to actually have a successful video interview.

If you are a beginner, I recommend that you make sure you have everything set-up (lights, headset, etc.) and ready to go at least 15 minutes early. Don’t forget to schedule a time with your candidate and send them the Zoom information they will need to log-on and get started.

When you start your meeting, it will ask you to turn your camera on and use your computer for audio input. At this point, you will want to double check your lighting, ensure your headset is working, and that your background looks professional. Once that is all squared away, you are ready to greet your candidate when they arrive on screen.

Typically, when a candidate arrives you will hear a beep or a bell so you can greet them. If you can’t see or hear them for some reason, there is a chat function that you can use to interact in order to figure it out. Often the candidate is muted upon entry so they will need to unmute themselves and click the button to start their video.

Once you can see and hear them, start by building rapport. I often ask them if they have ever done a video interview before and reassure them it is going to be fun. I generally talk to them about how their week has been or what the weather is like to get them warmed up and talking.

Rapport building via video can take anywhere from two to five minutes, depending on your candidate. They will often give you cues that they are ready—sometimes you can see them noticeably relax. With video, candidates have to get used to seeing themselves on camera. I notice I have the same issue and if I am fidgety it takes me longer to get comfortable. Regardless, take a deep breath, smile and be yourself.

When you think the ice has been broken, I recommend explaining how you are going to conduct the interview and what you are going to be doing. For example, I might say, “I am going to ask you a set of questions and I am going to take notes, so if it seems like I am looking away it is because I am taking notes.” I usually tell them that I will give plenty of time at the end of the call for questions. I recommend setting aside ten minutes for them to ask you questions.

The first question I typically ask is, “Tell me about yourself.” This is a good way to transition from the ice breaker to the interview questions by trying to get to know your candidate. If they say, “What do you want to know?” I like to tell them, “Why don’t you start by telling me what you like to do outside of work? What are your hobbies?” This is another way to delve into who they are as a person and continue to build rapport. Once the initial question has been asked and answered then you can move into your interview questions.

Questions to consider are:

  • What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment? Why? What did this require?
  • What is your greatest personal accomplishment? Why?
  • Tell me about a time where you made a mistake at work? What did you do?
  • What is your next ideal situation? What are you looking for? Why?

I have a full set of interview questions that I use, and I recommend developing your own set of questions. If you need help with questions, this blog outlines the key questions to ask and a few tips on questions to dig deeper.

As you are asking questions, take copious notes (I use Evernote) so when you finish the interview you have plenty of documentation to match against your talent profile and/or the job description. I ask each candidate the same questions so that I can compare candidates as well.

Another key element of note taking during an interview is to type what the candidate says verbatim. The biggest mistake people make is interpreting what people say in an interview. For example, if a candidate says, “I am competitive” then ask for an example of a time they were competitive. Then you could assess how competitive you think they are based on the example. However, if a candidate says, “I wanted to win the race.” I wouldn’t improvise by writing down that the candidate is competitive. The key here is noticing that adjectives are open to interpretation and we want to be as scientific in the interview process as possible. Typically, adjectives give us the opportunity to dig deeper and ask for examples to make more grounded assessments.

When the interview is over, I recommend taking 5-10 minutes to read your notes and then write a short paragraph synopsis on what you thought was a good fit about the candidate and what might not be a good fit.

Video interviewing can be a powerful part of your hiring process by implementing a few key steps you will not only become adept at managing the process, you will gain valuable insights into each candidate.

If you’d like more insights about preparing for and conducting video interviews, please schedule a free 30-minute session with me at