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Applicant completing Snapshot video interview

Need to submit a video interview for your college application? Here are 6 tips to help you prepare

Interviews have long been used by admissions committees as a vital tool for selecting the best, well-rounded students for their programs. These days more and more colleges and universities are turning to online platforms for video interviews where you record and submit your answers to a set of predetermined questions. Although you may feel uncomfortable recording yourself, these video interviews are well worth your time; by interviewing in the comfort of your own home (or wherever else works best), you can feel more at ease and just focus on the quality of your answers. This gives the admissions committee a better sense of who you are than your written personal statement and grades alone.


With that in mind, here are our 6 tips for completing a successful video-recorded interview:


1. Check your tech 

Make sure you have the necessary equipment to record your interview responses. Generally, most platforms require:

  • A reliable internet connection with a bandwidth speed of at least 1 MB/s (you can check your current bandwidth speed here)
  • A laptop or desktop computer with a webcam (some platforms may also support smartphone or tablet devices, but prop them up accordingly)
  • Headphones or earphones with a microphone (you may want to consider wired headphones instead of Bluetooth to reduce any connectivity or battery issues)

Some video interview platforms have built-in system requirement tests so you can verify your equipment functions properly. At Altus, we provide applicants with a complete systems requirement test so they’re prepared for their Casper test and Snapshot video response.


2. Choose your spot

You’ll want to record your interview in a room that is well-lit, clean and uncluttered, quiet and private. This is to make sure you won’t be interrupted by other people, pets or noises and that you don’t accidentally display something in the video that you don’t intend for others to see. 


3. Pay attention to your body language and tone

When it comes to any interview, it’s about more than just your words. In fact, between 70 and 93% of what we communicate is non-verbal. You’ll want to make sure you come across as confident, engaged, knowledgeable, open and approachable. You can do this by sitting up straight, using gestures to emphasize some of your points, speaking clearly and smiling.


4. Maintain eye contact

You may not be sitting across a person during this interview, but practicing appropriate eye contact is still important. A study found that 43% of the attention we focus on someone is devoted to their eyes, making it the strongest form of non-verbal contact. Although you’ll automatically want to look at your screen, you should direct your gaze towards your webcam to simulate in-person eye contact. If you find this difficult, try removing any distractions on the opposite wall and turn off the mirror image on your screen to help you remain focused on the webcam.


5. Get comfortable in front of the camera

The only way to get over the awkwardness of being in front of the camera is to have multiple practice runs. Try to imagine you’re having a real conversation with someone and record yourself using Camera (if you’re a PC user) or Photo Booth (if you’re a Mac user). Review the video afterwards and identify any areas for improvement and just keep at it. If you have a friend preparing for a similar interview, watch each other’s recordings and give feedback. It’s always good having another perspective.


6. Familiarize yourself with interview questions

Interviews typically have a mix of personal and program-specific questions, and you may be able to find some sample questions to use in your practice runs. Practicing with these questions will make you more confident when responding to the prompts in your interview, as you will have experience thinking on the spot and structuring your answers in a clear and concise manner. If you’re applying to a program that requires you to participate in Snapshot, you can find some sample questions on the Snapshot page.


You can also consider perusing these resources:


Last but not least, approach this interview with a positive attitude. It’s your chance to make a great first impression on your dream school, so do your best!