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Video Interviews: put your best face forward

Video Interviews: put your best face forward

With increasing usage of video interviews amongst employers, find out how best to prepare for them.

Be prepared

Video interviews are increasingly popular method in the graduate recruitment process. According to gradireland’s Irish Salary Survey 2014, there has been a 10 per cent increase in usage of video interviewing, from 6.2 percent in 2013 to 16.2 percent in 2014. There are a number of methods in use; one-to one video interviews via Skype, or automated video interviews or self-recorded video applications which vary according to the system each company uses. They are a cost effective and time efficient way of screening potential candidates, they eliminate travel time and cost and can be recorded and reviewed several times during the employer’s decision process. Interviewing a candidate through video gives an employer an in-depth insight into a candidate’s mannerisms, their communication skills and their personality. A video interview may sound relatively simple, but like any interview you need to prepare for it!

one-to-one video interview (Skype)

Skype interviews can often be a relief to some candidates, as they do not have to factor travel time or cost into their interview, and can perform the interview from the comfort of their own homes. However, impressing an employer over Skype can prove to be more difficult than you might think. Employers can use a video interview to assess a number of key competencies such as your technological abilities, your interpersonal skills and even your organisation skills.
There a lot of factors to consider and prepare before attempting to make a lasting first impression on an employer with a video interview, as Barry Foy, an Application Scientist with Nanometrics, explains below:

"Not as intimidating as they sound!"

Video interviews aren’t as intimidating as they sound, they can be a great experience; however there are obvious differences to a
face-to-face interview to note. Choose a time that does not conflict with anything, ensure you’re giving the employer your full attention. I’d suggest dressing in interview attire; I found that it helped me to get into the right mindset. My biggest piece of advice would be to test everything beforehand; your technology setup, your interview area, your speakers and headset to ensure there’s no feedback, etc. You need to make sure you are in a clean and quiet environment to give yourself the best possible chance of performing a successful interview.

Automated video interviews

Automated video interviews are increasingly common and are markedly different from 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.

Tips for completing video interviews