Video Interviews – what are they and how should I prepare?

Sinéad English of Hilt, a career management services company, writes about what video interviews actually involve, what the common misconceptions and mistakes are and how you can best prepare. 

 Q: So, what do over 40% of all graduate recruiters including Musgrave, Bank of Ireland, Paddy Power, Ornua, Boston Scientific, Oracle, Dell, IBEC Global Graduates, Enterprise Ireland, Zurich, Accenture, PepsiCo, Tesco, Kerry Group and just about every large Investment Bank have in common?

 A: They all use video interviews as part of their assessment and selection process. 

Let’s clear up a common miscomprehension here.  Video interviews are not Skype interviews.  During a video interview there isn’t a real person on your screen giving you encouraging nods as you go through your answers.  In a video interview you are asked to record your answers to a series of questions that pop up on the screen every two minutes.  There is no-one on the “other side” when you are doing your interview.  Once recorded, your answers are then sent to the employer – with no chances for second attempts or re-takes.

Sounds unnerving?  How should you prepare?  What do you need to know? How does it work?

You receive an email from the employer informing you that you are invited to an interview. So far, so normal. The email contains a link which brings you to an interview site.  Employers usually give candidates between 3 – 4  days from sending the invitation to complete the interview.  You can do the interview on a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone.  The email will contain a candidate briefing with advice on how to access the interview and tips for delivering your best performance.

The employer will set out the structure of the interview in the candidate briefing and will tell you:

  • How many questions will be asked (average is approximately 6)
  • How long you will have to read each question before you have to start answering (between  30 – 60 seconds)
  • How long you will be given to answer each question (usually between 1 to 2 minutes per answer – if you don’t finish within the required time you will be cut off mid sentence! There will be a countdown timer on the screen to keep you on track)
  • Possibilities to review your answers and retake each question if you are not happy with your answer – not usually offered

You are asked to run through some online checks to see if the camera and sound on your laptop/desktop computer or phone are working ok. Most employers will allow you to do some practice questions so you can try out the technology and see how you look and sound on camera. Answers to practice questions can be recorded and replayed by you as many times as you want  and do not form part of the interview. Your answers to the practice questions won’t be viewed by the  employer.

When you are ready to take the interview you click “Start Interview” and the recording starts.

What’s the best way to prepare?

Practise under conditions as close as possible to the ones you will experience in the video interview.  Use your phone or laptop to record and time yourself answering commonly asked interview questions.  It’s a safe bet to say that in a video interview you will be asked questions like:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What motivates you?
  • Questions to test key graduate competencies including teamwork, initiative, problem solving and meeting deadlines
  • Why do you want to work for our company?

Get used to talking to a blank screen and focusing your eye contact on the camera.  Make full use of the practice zone on the video interview invitation you received from the employer.  If your first attempt at answering the questions is on the real interview you will more than likely underperform in the real interview.   Ask someone to review and critique your recorded responses. Receiving guidance and feedback on your answer content, body language, delivery and interview environment (lighting/sound quality) is by far the best way to ensure you deliver an excellent performance when doing the actual interview.

To help you ace your video interview Hilt has recently launched an innovative online video interview training solution which enables you to simulate real video interview conditions targeted at your industry and get extremely detailed feedback and guidance on how to improve your performance. Visit https://www.wearehilt.com/services-for-individuals/video-interview-training/ to find out more.

For more on preparing for interviews, whatever the format, visit our dedicated interview section on gradireland.com

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