Video interviews are more popular than ever these days. As with all types of interviews, it’s important to prepare for them, as this will increase your confidence levels. There are two types of video interviews – live video interviews and pre-recorded video ones. I’ll start by explaining the difference between these:
Live video interviews
This type of video interview is the most common type. It’s where the interview is carried out off-site (i.e. not at the company or organisation’s offices). Usually, the interviewee is at home and is sent a link to a video platform so that they can have a conversation with the interview panel virtually.
Pre-recorded video interviews
Pre-recorded video interviews have increased in their frequency during the past few years. These interviews are usually the first stage of a series of interviews or assessments. They are often used in graduate recruitment schemes. You’ll be asked to log on to a platform which will explain how the system works. Then you’ll record your answers to a set of questions that come up on the screen. The assessors will then view the recording at a later date.
Answering interview questions in a pre-recorded video format is far less personal than if you are talking to a real person. You won’t get to see the interview panels’ body language and how they are responding to your answers.
If you are invited to take part in a pre-recorded interview, normally you’ll have a deadline by which you must submit your video. This deadline is usually around four to five days. There are usually four to six set questions that you’ll have to answer and you won’t know what they are before they come up. You’ll often have to record your answer to a time limit. Often as part of the software, you can have a practice session. It’s really recommended that you do this, so you get used to the software and the amount of time you are allocated to answer the question. It’s important that you don’t accidentally miss the fact that it’s actually recording the interview itself. Otherwise, you could be using up your chance to answer the questions, before you are ready.
How to plan for your video interview
- Your appearance: remember to dress as you would for a face-to-face interview. Even though they will only see your top half, it’s a good idea to dress well with matching trousers/skirt etc in case, for example, they ask you to retrieve some documentation and you have to stand up to get it.
- The background: think carefully about what the interview panel will see in the background if you are conducting the interview from home. It’s a good idea to try to see what the background will look like by signing onto a video platform and taking a look at what can be seen. It’s safer to have a very plain, non-distracting background if you’re unsure. Think about the lighting you have, consider natural light as well as other light options.
- Understand the video platform in advance: it’s a good idea to sign up for the platform and use it first on the same computer where you’ll be having the interview. This way you can minimise any technical issues, understand how the microphone works and download the latest version of the app. Therefore, you will be fully ready and there are no delays in your entering the virtual room.
- Make sure you have good Wi-Fi connectivity: check this in advance.
- Double-check instructions for the interview: it’s important to do this anyway, but for video interviews it’s especially important that you carefully read the email they have sent. That way you’ll know as much as you can about the format of the interview.
- Let your household know that you need silence: don’t forget to tell the people you are house-sharing with that you can’t be disturbed. It’s also a good idea to turn your phone off, so that this doesn’t ring during the interview.
Performing well at your interview
Other than the tips outlined above, video interviews will be much the same as face-to-face interviews. The same sorts of questions will be asked, the same interview preparation will be required.
Below are some tips:
- Practice in front of a mirror or with a friend: the refrain ‘practice makes perfect’ is definitely true, as the more you can practice your interview technique, the easier you’ll find it to come up with well-constructed answers. Practising the answers out loud is important, rather than just answering them in your head. It will be closer to the real interview experience. Note, if you are practising questions with a friend or family member, do ask for constructive feedback.
If you are a student or recent graduate and have access to a careers service, you could get in touch with them to ask for some mock interview practice. It won’t cost you anything and will be part of the support that the college/university offers. If you have a virtual interview, you can ask the careers consultant to use an online format.
- Investigate the organisation you’ve got the interview with: make sure you know the industry/sector in which the organisation is working. Who are their clients/stakeholders? What portfolio of work do they have? A very typical question is, ‘What do you know about us?’. Be able to answer that in a thorough, but concise manner.
- Study your CV: think about the experiences that you have had so that you can talk about them at interview. A typical question might be: ‘What achievement or achievements are you proudest of in your career to date?’ In a virtual interview you could have your CV to hand, however, be aware that they will notice if you look away from the screen at the document.
- Have a good idea about your strengths: an interview is the chance to sell yourself and to tell the interviewer about how great you are. Morrisby has some great assessment tools that can help you become more self-aware. These tools will also help you to realise careers that might be a good match to your strengths.
- Be proactive in terms of gaining more experience: If you are a student in your penultimate or ultimate year, if you think that you don’t have enough experience to talk about, then get proactive about doing something about this. There’ll be lots of opportunities to get involved in volunteering and other experiences/hobbies that you can add to your CV. These are experiences that you can tell the interview panel about.
If you’re not a student, you can also volunteer! Take a look at what’s going on in your community and you can also explore these websites:
- Volunteering Matters
- National Association for Voluntary and Community Action
- National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
- Look at some typical interview questions: you can find these online via a Google search. Alternatively, you could borrow an interview book for free from your local library.
- Try to predict the type of questions they’ll ask: a very straightforward way of doing this is to look at the job description and particularly the person specification. If the person specification is available, it’s often easy to see what they are looking for in a candidate. It can even be there in front of you in plain English. For example, if they ask for a competency such as ‘an ability to work well in a team’, you can bet that there’ll be a question about that! You can therefore prepare what you want to say about this topic and you can get your examples ready.
- Use the STAR approach: this helps you to structure your answers to any questions. It’s especially useful when you are giving the interview panel some examples to illustrate your answers. The STAR approach stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result and demonstrates a good approach for answering competency questions fully.
- Get yourself into the right headspace: give yourself time before the interview to try to relax. Even when you are having a virtual interview, without the stress of having to travel and find an unfamiliar location, it’s important to take a break before you are ready to start the interview. You can then make sure you have a good posture, avoiding hunched shoulders and slumping. It’s also important that you are sitting in a relaxed way. If you are more relaxed, this means that you’ll also slow down your speech, so that you give yourself more time to focus on your answers and to think. Your speech should be loud enough, as well as being clear and direct.
Remember that interview success doesn’t always come immediately, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes a few goes before you are offered a job.
Each time, it’s a good idea to write down the interview questions that you remember having been asked. If you feel you didn’t answer them so well, then have a go at thinking what would have been a better answer. Each time you have an interview you can build on your repertoire of questions and answers. Making a note of what went well in the interview each time, will also help to boost your confidence.
Lisa is a registered careers practitioner with the CDI. She has worked as a careers consultant in the NHS and the university sector. She has also trained in Leadership Coaching and is a Certified Associate member of APECS (the Association of Professional Executive Coaches and Supervisors).