25 Video Interview Questions To Hire Better Employees
Both video and phone interviews allow you to easily interact with a candidate from a distance, but video holds the advantage because of the visual component. You’re able to see a person’s reaction and read their body language just as if you were in the same room with them.
Smart interviewers know how to maximize this video advantage. By asking effective interview questions, they’re able to get the “full picture” of a candidate from their verbal and physical responses. This is true for both live video interviews and automated (one-way) video interviews.
To help you assemble your own list of effective video interview questions, let’s start by taking a look at some general guidelines to follow:
Ask open-ended questions
Avoid asking questions answerable by “yes” or “no.” It stalls the conversation and helps the candidate play their cards close to the chest. Likewise, don’t ask questions that have simple, direct answers. Instead, ask questions that get the candidate talking.
For example, asking “what coding languages do you know?” will only get you an answer with a short list. Try “which coding language is your favorite and why?” instead. It requires the candidate to give their opinion and justify it, which reveals how they think and tells you what they value.
Invite them to tell a story
In addition to getting them talking, stories are a good way to see how candidates organize their thoughts. Is the story disjointed, full of random tangents and unrelated detail? Or is the narrative easy to follow and relevant to your actual question?
Their body language can tell you a lot about the person, too. Do they get excited as they tell the story, and start waving their hands around? Or do they clam up and stay at a stiff posture? You may not be able to tell if the person is lying or exaggerating, but you’ll definitely be able to get a sense of how they would behave (and get along with your team) in an actual work environment well before you bring them in for the in-person interview.
Ask about the person’s actions
When a person tells a story they may get so preoccupied with the events that they forget to tell you about their actual part in it. Get the candidate to focus on what they did to contribute to a situation (good or bad). It may turn out that their impact on an award-winning project was actually pretty minor, or vice versa.
This kind of question also shows how a candidate sees themselves. If they try to downplay their actions, they may either be humble or have a problem with self-confidence. Candidates who talk themselves up may be bragging too much or taking credit for other people’s contributions. Listen and watch carefully to see where they fall on the self-confidence spectrum.
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Ask for clarification
A live video interview offers full interactivity and an interviewer should take that opportunity to ask as many follow-up questions as possible.
Some interviewers prefer not to do this because they’re afraid to look uninformed in front of the candidate. This absolutely should not be the case!
If the candidate uses jargon you don’t understand, ask them to explain it. If the candidate relates a story in an unclear manner, ask them to clarify. If they keep mentioning a specific name, ask who that person is. Don’t feel guilty for doing so. You’re not challenging them, you just want to fully understand what you’re being told so that you can better evaluate the information.
Of course, if anything about the candidate’s story rings false based on what you hear or see, then you definitely should challenge them. Ask for additional detail about any part of the story that seems suspicious, whether it’s overemphasizing their contributions or glossing over a bad outcome. In this case, you may be weeding out someone who will be openly dishonest with you just so they don’t appear weak. If they’re going to dishonest in an interview, they’re going to bring that quality to the job as well.
To learn all about video interviewing, check out our beginners guide at What is Video Interviewing?
With the above general guidelines in mind, let’s now take a look at some specific examples of video questions you can ask, and what you should look for in an answer.
Effective video interview questions
1. Can you tell me about yourself?
This simple question tells you so much about the candidate. How much emphasis do they place on their career? How much of their lives are they willing to share with you? Which parts? Do they tell it with energy and candor, or are they careful and reserved?
As they tell their story, ask them to expound on areas you find interesting. Don’t steer their conversation, but don’t let them ramble, either. A strong candidate will find ways to connect their answer with the job role.
2. What do you know about our company?
You want to hire someone who, at the very least, has researched your company. They should have a basic understanding of your customers, products and mission. Usually, this can be accomplished by researching your company’s website, so remember they only have the information you provide there.
3. What excites you most about this role?
This question tends to catch people off guard enough that they answer the first thing that comes to mind. Maybe it’s salary, maybe it’s the company itself, or it could even be they want a change of career.
You’re looking for sincerity and enthusiasm. Lukewarm answers are sometimes a red flag as it could indicate that your company is just one job target out of many.
4. What’s the best job you’ve ever had and why?
Get the candidate talking by having them share about the job they liked the most so far in their career. Ask follow-up questions about what their accomplishments, any shortcomings in the role, and how they envision a future role can become the next “best job.”
5. What prompted you to apply for this job?
This question helps you to learn more about their motivations when applying for the job. Clock watchers will only see your organization as a placeholder until something better comes along, for example, a job that pays a bit more, or is a little closer to home, or requires fewer hours. You want to get a sense if they’ll jump ship as soon as they get a new opportunity.
Great answers incorporate some knowledge of your industry, company, and team. There should also be a clear passion for the job itself and future prospects at the company.
6. What skill makes you qualified for this job?
This is both a test of their own confidence and their understanding of the role. If the candidate emphasizes a skill that isn’t directly related or a key part of the position, then it’s less likely they will be a fit for the role.
Also, don’t forget to ask them why they chose a particular skill. By probing further into their choice you can learn more about how the candidate will approach the role, and, if it’s a managerial role, what they will look for in their team.
7. If you were building a team of former co-workers, who would you recruit and why?
One of the best ways to get to know a person is by how they see other people. This question gives you a peek into their prior working relationships and what they think makes one co-worker or another stand out. You’ll discover what the candidate values in other people and how they may potentially see their future co-workers.
If a candidate can’t decide on anyone, that may be a warning sign that they don’t have the skill set to evaluate a co-worker’s performance, they don’t know enough about their co-workers to make a decision one way or the other, or they don’t have a good working relationship with their previous team.
8. What’s the toughest problem you were able to solve and how?
This is an opportunity for a candidate to demonstrate their lateral thinking and problem-solving abilities, and also an opportunity for you to see how truthful a candidate is.
As the candidate relates their story, ask them to provide more detail on the steps taken to solve the problem. Things like context, specific actions, and minor details. If a candidate participated in solving the problem, they will be able to provide most of that information. If they don’t know or claim to not remember, then they might not have been quite as involved in the problem as they suggested.
9. What is your ideal work environment?
Job skills aren’t the only thing that make a good employee. You also have to figure out if the candidate will be a good fit for your company culture.
For example, a candidate who hates dogs might not be a good choice in a dog-friendly company. And candidates who take comfort in fixed job requirements and predictable tasks wouldn’t appreciate the chaotic, everyone-does-everything nature of a startup.
After the candidate explains their work environment preferences, feel free to share yours as well to see how they react. Are they enthusiastically embracing what you’ve shared? Are they less than enthusiastic but willing to compromise for a chance to work with you? Or are they visibly discouraged by how you describe your workplace?
10. How would you describe your working style?
Fit goes both ways. The candidate might like what they see or hear about how your team works, but you should also check if the candidate’s work habits will be a seamless fit or potentially cause conflict. You may have to draw the candidate out with examples of real work situations your team has encountered and ask how they would have responded in that situation. Hypothetical examples can work well too.
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11. How would you spend your time if you didn’t have to work?
You don’t have to make all of your questions so serious. Get to know the candidate as a person by discovering their interests. You may find out that they share the same hobby as some of your other employees. Even if they don’t, other employees might be interested in learning their new hobby and bonding over it.
12. How would you solve this problem?
This is somewhat similar to the earlier problem about the candidate solving their biggest challenge, but instead of looking to the past, this question looks forward. You have to assess whether or not the candidate has the skillset to perform the job functions.
This question isn’t just to see if they can come up with the right answer, but also what their process is for solving problems. Give the candidate a general outline of the problem and see how they approach it. A good candidate will come up with a logical and feasible answer right away. A great candidate will ask you more questions first to to learn more about the problem, then slowly peel away the possible alternatives until they arrive at an excellent solution.
13. How do you resolve conflict with a co-worker?
Everyone has a difference of opinion with a colleague at some point in their career. And it doesn’t have to be an actual argument or fight.
Pay attention to what the difference of opinion was about. Was it personal or professional? Petty or major? On their own behalf on the behalf of someone else?
As for the resolution, did the candidate try to resolve it on their own, or did someone have to step in? Was the candidate satisfied with the resolution, or are they still holding a grudge? The answers to all of these questions will tell you how well they’re able to handle conflict.
14. What didn’t you get a chance to include on your resume?
This is a question attributed to Richard Branson, and it’s worth including on the list because it’s so good. Most resumes are stripped down to the barest essentials, and things that might’ve been a major selling point for the candidate may have been left out. This question offers the candidate a chance to correct any omissions and take one last shot at highlighting their best attributes and skills.
15. What is one skill would you like to improve upon?
This question puts a positive spin on the universally-used “what is your biggest weakness” question. People often have good intentions about wanting to improve certain skills, but have they actually given serious thought to it and acted on it? You can also follow up by asking if their answer was affected by their understanding of the skills they would need for this job.
16. How do you think our product could be improved?
The candidate must do their research to give an insightful answer, because it would be very hard to fool an employee interviewer who knows the product well. This is also a good opportunity to see how the candidate offers criticism: harsh or gentle, honest or sugar-coated, vague or detailed.
17. What professional achievement are you most proud of?
It’s nice to be able to toot your own horn, and most applicants will leap into this question with enthusiasm. You’ll be able to get a sense of who they are professionally based on the achievement they select, how much or how little they appear to embellish, and whether they focus on individual or group achievements.
18. Describe a recent situation when you had to handle an angry customer.
This answer will give you insight into the candidate’s composure under difficult circumstances. Look for indications that the candidate is unflappable and capable of remaining professional at all times. If pressure situation appear to cause the candidate t lose focus, or get frustrated easily, you should consider those red flags for future performance at your company.
19. Who is the best person you ever worked with? Why?
The insights to be gained from this question come in two parts: First, the role (e.g. a co-worker, boss, mentor or other) of the person they consider “the best.” Next, the qualities they value in that person.
As you hear the response to this question, try to gauge the company the candidate keeps in their professional and personal lives, and decide if their standards measure up to your own and those of your team members.
20. What has frustrated you in one of your previous jobs?
This is an excellent question simply because it allows you to flash forward in time. The candidate’s answer may give you an idea of why they could leave you a year or three in the future. If the reason doesn’t apply to you, then there’s likely no problem. But if you’re pretty sure they’ll encounter the same situation in your company, then you may think twice about the candidate’s potential for long-term success.
Want to know how video interview questions fit into an overall recruitment strategy? Check out our Recruitment Strategies Guide
21. Why are you looking for another job?
This question is an interesting test of character. Is the answer a calm, objective and well-reasoned explanation for the transition, or does it turn into a five-minute rant about perceived unfairness? Do they prioritize personal gain, career growth, job satisfaction, or all three?
22. Tell me about a situation you handled poorly in the past. How would you handle it now?
The danger of asking a general “what was the greatest failure you experienced in the workplace?” question is that a clever candidate can spin things in a way that lays blame on others. But wording the question in this particular way challenges them to admit to a shortcoming or mistake of their own and describe the details of that circumstance.
The follow-up question tests their willingness to learn from their mistakes and reveals how their problem-solving skills would be different with the benefit of a do-over.
23. Is there a situation in the past when you did the right thing at work and nobody saw it?
This is the complete opposite of the previous question. Instead of highlighting past mistakes, you’re asking them to show their moral character — which can be more difficult to share with a stranger.
Remember to apply the condition of “nobody seeing it,” as it automatically excludes any situation driven primarily by personal gain. Feel free to
24. What do you worry about late at night and why?
This revealing question gives you insight
If they’re worried about money, then you know that compensation will be an important factor for them (for both the final job offer and for job satisfaction moving forward). If their answer relates to family, then you know that they value personal time and work-life balance. Analyze their answers closely for clues about how they would view the role and your company culture.
25. Do you think it’s more important to work fast or get the job done right?
This question will give you insight into how the candidate juggles priorities. Do they work fast simply to meet deadlines, but at the sacrifice of required quality? do they obsess over perfection in output when it’s more important to complete the work on schedule? the candidate’s answer can help you decide if they will bring the best judgment for the the role.
Remember, when it comes to an interview the candidate has to bring their A-game, but so do you. So choose your interview questions carefully and be prepared to challenge their answers! By doing so, you’ll gain valuable insights to help you decide whether the candidate should move on in your hiring process.
Automated video interviewing by HelloCecil will help you spot top job candidates faster. See it for yourself at hellocecil.com