Careers advice: Tackling the video interview

In our latest careers blog Lisa Carr from our alumni careers team examines trends in the use of video interviewing and shares her tips for success.

Around 80% of large employers use video interviewing as part of their selection process. As well as skype interviewing, there is a growing trend for employers to ask candidates to pre-record interviews using automated interview software. Intended originally for volume recruitment, this is now spreading to higher level jobs. A recent report by Sonru, a major software supplier, showed that 42% of roles applied for using video interviews were for experienced hires and 8% for senior management.

It’s likely to be only a matter of time before we see video interviewing become a mainstream part of the recruitment process. If your last experience of interviewing was a face-to-face or telephone interview, you may be feeling a little nervous. Here’s the lowdown on what to expect and how to shine.

Most employers use recorded video interviews at an early stage of selection. Typically you will be given a login to a portal and a deadline of a few days to record and submit your interview. You will be presented with a list of written interview questions one at a time, with a set time to read and respond to the questions – this might be 30 seconds to read and 1 or 2 minutes to respond. The employer will review your interview at their leisure and may share it with other recruiters.

You are usually given a practice question but cannot review or re-record your answers. Getting it right first time is therefore essential. You must also make a good impression quickly as the recruiter may only view a couple of minutes of footage before deciding whether to move on to the next candidate. Here’s how:

Set the scene
Recruiters make judgements based on visual clues. In face to face interviews this might be how you dress and your body language. In a video interview, a strong impression will also be formed by the room you are in. What does the room say about you? Choose a neutral canvas and remove clutter and distractions. If books or pictures are on display, make sure they look professional. Ensure your desk and chair give you a good posture (avoid swivel chairs if possible).

Practice makes perfect
It’s vital to use the interview practice facility to familiarise yourself with the process and to check how you look and sound. You can also practise your video interviewing technique for free on the interview4me website.

Sort your technology
You may be given the choice of recording your interview on a laptop, tablet or phone. Consider which will look best on screen and have the most reliable internet connection. You should be able to perform a test beforehand to check your device is compatible and your audio and video optimised. Ensure your battery is fully charged and that automatic updates and chat boxes are disabled. You don’t want your computer to reconfigure mid interview.

video interviewing
Watch your eye contact: Focus on the webcam not the screen

Watch your eye contact
Strong eye contact with the interviewer is a key way to convey confidence and trustworthiness. In a video interview you will need to make eye contact via the webcam (not the screen). By all means refer to notes during the reading time, but avoid checking notes on screen or on the desk whilst you record your answer as this will break eye contact. It is better to take a drink before the interview rather than during it.

Act natural
The automated nature of recorded video interviews can sometimes lead people to appear overly formal and lacking in personality. Try to inject some energy into your voice to convey enthusiasm. Vary your tone to avoid sounding wooden. Don’t forget to smile as this conveys a real sense of warmth and confidence. Avoid exaggerated hand gestures as these can be distracting.

Sell yourself
Getting across your key selling points can be harder in a video interview as you will be limited to set questions with no interviewer follow up and your replies are strictly timed. Some employers ask a final question such as “Is there anything else you would like to add?” or “How did you find this interview?” If so, use this opportunity to sum up your motivation and suitability for the job. If not, ensure you reference your key selling points throughout, having some short snappy phrases prepared to summarise at the end of each question.

Do your due diligence
Traditional interviews with live interviewers give candidates clues to the company’s culture and a chance to ask questions. Not so with recorded interviews. So you will need to rely more on assessing your potential fit for the role and job by using your networks and carrying out your own research. There are tips to how to research employers effectively online and offline in our Careers Management Module.

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