Video interviewing is on the rise, and who can blame companies and recruiters for that? Most recruiters have made their mind up about a candidate in the first few minutes, or seconds, even. In a ‘live’ interview, this means another minimum half an hour giving an unsuitable candidate unnecessary time that could be more profitably spent elsewhere.

Video interviews will, therefore, be an increasingly popular part of the interview process, and optimising your recruitment strategy will mean having an excellent understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Normally, these are entirely virtual, pre-recorded processes with standard questions requiring answers in tight windows of a minute or so. This can be demanding, given the time constraints and lack of interviewer to provide additional guidance. Compared to traditional telephone interviews, where you might be given sufficient time and prompts by the interviewer, pre-recorded video interviews can be quite a challenge.

Still, this is a great opportunity to stand out, and it’s a process that rewards people who prepare. Try doing the following to maximise your impact:

Research thoroughly: Of course, all interview processes require this, but it’s particularly important when you know you won’t have the time or space to think up responses in the moment. Make sure you have one minute answers for all obvious questions (strengths, motivations, weaknesses). Write down a list of skills the target employer wants and prepare examples of how you have used these in at least one situation. Use the STAR (Situation Task Actions Result) technique to structure your answer.

Spend most time describing your ‘Actions’ in your STAR examples: don’t get bogged down in pointless detail or context, and make sure you are talking about your own activity (think ‘I’ not ‘we’). Use strong, active verbs to describe times when you made a difference.

Prepare and repeat bullet points: keep your answers in bite-sized chunks, easily understood and accessible for the audience. Start your answers with a summary of what’s to follow, eg ‘there are three main reasons why this position is right for me’.

Focus on strong delivery; don’t worry too much about the perfect structure: much as the above is true, it’s more important to keep the content relevant and present with a confident, upbeat style than it is to have a perfectly fabricated response. Your interviewer will make allowances; they’re looking for presentational polish, quality of information and cultural fit.

Stay positive; assume it’s going well; there will be no visual cues or responses to help you, and it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t start beating yourself up to the point that it affects your pitch. Ignore self-critical thoughts, stay upbeat and keep going. Even if you have done badly, test your ability to stay positive so that the next one is better. And in any case, people often over-estimate how badly they have done on interview. 

Prepare, practice, then practice again. Sometimes companies will give you the opportunity to have a practice question and answer session, but not always, so try to practice ahead of time and film yourself while you do it. Remember to set time limits of roughly a minute; run through each main question at least two times. Most people start seeing a big upswing in performance on the third run-through.

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