We’re seeing an increasing number of recruiters using video interviewing as the first part of their selection process. It looks as though this new approach to sifting applications is going to be here to stay. Applicants are going to have to get used to it. You can’t treat it just as if it is a face to face or even a skype interview, so here are seven top tips on how to deal with it.
1. What to expect?
You will probably have to handle around four questions. The typical format is that you’ll have 15 to 30 seconds to think after each question is revealed to you, and then between 1 and 2 minutes to talk. Each question is going to count. You don’t have the luxury of unlimited time or of the “soft” settle down questions typical in an interview. You’re going to need to keep your nerves in check right from the beginning. So here’s how to approach it.
As usual you need to do this but now is the time to try timing yourself. You can have a reasonable guess at what some of the questions will be, “Why do you want to work here?” “Why should we pick you?” would be a good place to start. Set yourself the question and then try answering it with a recorder and a timer on. You will probably be surprised by how long your answer is. You may well have gone over time. Listen back to the answer. Did you repeat yourself? Did you um and er? Did you actually answer several other questions as well? Work out the essential part of your answer, perhaps make yourself some notes and then try again. If necessary, again and again, until you have a crisp clear answer. Ideally have two answers for these obvious questions, one lasting for one minute and one for two minutes.
3. Expand your repertoire.
Now you have the really basic questions sorted, start working your way through some of the standard competency questions we’ve talked about before in this blog. Remember your CARE framework and that competency questions are the ones which start, “Give me an example of a time when….” You’ve probably already answered a number of these on application forms. Favourites are likely to be around teamwork, your powers of persuasion, your ability to re-plan quickly when necessary to avert problems or your ability to implement a creative solution. You’ll be able to think of others. Start answering them using the same technique I’ve talked about. Try to get a “feel” for how long your answer is. In the interview you’re likely to have some sort of clock clicking down on your screen. You don’t want to have your eyes glued to this. It’ll distract your answer. Developing a sense of timing will really help you.
4. Watch yourself.
You do need to watch a video of yourself answering the questions. Be objectively critical. Did you smile? You need to. A smile alters the whole tone of your voice and makes it warmer. These employers aren’t looking for an efficient automaton, they want a human being they can work with! What about eye contact? When you answer you need to be looking at the screen camera. If you just stare in the general direction of the screen then you won’t look as if you have any contact with the person watching you, you’ll be losing out on the opportunity to charm. What about your demeanour? Did you fiddle with fingers or touch your face? Don’t. At best it will make you look really nervous, at worst you’ll look shifty!
5. Book a mock interview.
Remember that this interview is just as important as the real thing. If you haven’t already had a mock interview from careers, now might be the time to take advantage of the offer. Make sure that you explain in advance that you are facing a video interview so that your careers consultant can work out how best to help you. It might be as simple as asking the questions from behind you! If you’re a Warwick student it would also be a good idea to use our on line video training.
6. Plan for the actual “take”.
You need to find yourself somewhere quiet where you are not going to be disturbed. Think about the what is behind you too. Will it be an appropriate background? You’ll also want to get dressed up for this, make sure that you are appropriately attired from head to toe. You’ll want to “look the part”, just as if it were a “live” interview, there are lots of horror stories about people only dressing up on the top half and then having to move during the recording! You might want to have a glass of water nearby just in case your mouth goes completely dry or you start coughing. Think about the light too. Is it falling so that your face is illuminated without going into your eyes, you don’t want to end up squinting? Spending a few minutes thinking about all of this can really make the difference.
Once you’ve done all this you should be ready. Try to keep calm. Employers will expect nerves but you need to be able to keep them in check sufficiently to give coherent answers. You’ve done your planning and practice, now is the time to believe in yourself. Go for it! Good luck!
7. Learn from the experience.
Typically the software now being used by employers enables you to replay your answers once you’ve finished. The thought of being able to do this (but not re-record) may fill you with horror. But, as with all interviews try to get some perspective. Reviewing your answers is important. An employer could probe further on what you said in the next stage of the process and you might be about to receive another video interview request!