Common Video Interview Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

December 6, 2019

Related: our blog post on video interview tips

It’s game time. First round interviews are just coming out and you’ve spent weeks meticulously preparing for every question that could conceivably be thrown at you. Knowing that it’s the single best use of your time, you kick off recruiting season by firing up Showcase. Did we mention you could apply to 100 jobs in 15 minutes? That's right.

But it isn't 2022 yet - pre-recorded video interviews are somewhat new and have unique challenges. That’s why Showcase views every single submission end-to-end - they have to meet a certain standard to ensure that video makes a stronger case for your candidacy than a resume would.

When playing back your videos, ask yourself: “if my dream company saw this, would this help my candidacy?” If yes, then hit submit!

This example video is what you should strive for. After reviewing hundreds of video submissions end-to-end on Showcase, here are the most common mistakes we see from most to least often:

  1. Not audible

Pre-recorded video interview answers add in a layer of hardware headaches as compared to a normal phone interview. We often receive submissions that seem promising, but are barely audible or entirely muted. Fortunately, you can circumvent this by trying the Practice Question and playing it back to yourself. As a sanity check, when you play it back, keep your computer or phone’s output volume somewhere in the middle. You could even benchmark it to the volume of whatever you’re jamming out to that day. Did someone say “Burnin’ Up” by the Jonas Brothers?

  1. Crowded room with background conversations

As much as we appreciate the enthusiasm of your answering questions while sitting in class, the background conversations are distracting the viewer from the star of the show - you! It’s better to take your time and find a quiet place to record. The living room couch in your fraternity house during chapter dinner is probably not your best bet.

  1. Poor lighting and video quality

Hiring managers view Showcase videos consecutively to ensure that the content of candidate answers is compared apples-to-apples, mitigating bias. Therefore it’s helpful to ensure that you also put your best foot forward elsewhere, including presentation. We recommend finding a well lit room and using up-to-date hardware when recording. The best option is to use the iPhone app (you can borrow a friend’s!) to record. If you use a laptop, play back the practice question and try to replicate the lighting from the example in our video interview tips blog post.

  1. Short answers (<30 seconds) that don’t touch on the “why”

For most questions, we’ve found that answers that reflect best tend to be over 45 seconds in length. You typically need at least that much time to provide a “why” or anecdote to support the statement being made. Let’s take an example question - “why should we hire you?”. Responding with “I’m a hard worker” or “I’m a leader” may be technically correct but it helps to support with an anecdote, example or past experience. A better answer would be:

“During my time as the president of my university’s investment club, I was tasked to grow membership from 25 to 50 and develop a training curriculum for new members in just one semester. This experience is relevant because I’m seeking an entry-level financial services role in which multi-tasking is an important part of the day-to-day, and I was able to prove that as president of the investment club while maintaining a high-GPA with a rigorous courseload.”

  1. Word salad

We sometimes receive answers that don’t form a coherent narrative. These are more often seen for personality questions, and feature the user listing off a bunch of buzzwords interspersed with mentions of past resume experience. An example of a word salad is “A time I made a process efficient was as a Marketing Intern at Hooli, where I improved the efficiency of how I went about processes using Excel”. Use the allotted preparation time to think of an example and a conclusion, and work backwards from there. Our questions are the most common questions you’d receive in a first round phone screen, so there shouldn’t be many (if any) curveballs.

Our goal is to get as close to a 100% answer approval rate as we can, and after reading this post and our video interview tips, I'm sure you'll help us do that :)