Wait! Did you say "Video" Interview?

The day of the interview you walk into the room. You don’t acknowledge the interviewer; you just sit down and open your laptop to look through your email. Typically that strategy is not an effective beginning to an interview, but it is becoming a common experience for job seekers because more employers are adopting one-way video interviews as a first interaction with applicants.

The Process

You first receive an email informing you that you got the interview. The email contains a link to a website where you perform the interview. The email also contains your personal candidate login code which verifies your identity. Once you begin, the software runs a test to ensure that your camera and microphone are working properly, and you will likely be given a practice question to get a sense of what the interview will be like. The video of the practice run is then discarded, and the interview begins when the employer gives a prompt. The prompt is a typed question that you have time to read and think about. After a short planning time, the actual interview begins, and the software records the candidate as he or she answers a set of questions.

Employers are turning to video interviews for several reasons:

  • They are less expensive since they eliminate travel costs.
  • Scheduling is simpler because the candidate can perform the interview when his or her schedule permits (so long as it falls within the time frame that the employer allots), and the interviewer can evaluate the video on his or her own time.
  • The interviewer can control what and how much of the interview he or she sees by pausing, stopping, and fast-forwarding the video.
  • Comparing prospects is simpler because the interviewer can replay and rewind each interview with ease.

Use video interviews to your benefit

While this method is more efficient for employers, potential employees can also benefit from the one-way video interview by strategically utilizing the added freedom. Start by researching the company’s interview format. For instance, many companies use Hirevue to conduct their video interviews, so explore the interview service provider’s website to learn more about their specific process.

Give yourself ample time to prepare, but know when to stop. Once the employer notifies you that you got the interview, you have a set amount of time to complete the interview, typically a few days. Use this time wisely. Study the company. Consider possible interview questions. Think of strong examples of situations when you utilized characteristics that the company may find attractive based on your research of the position. However, don’t overthink it. Once you feel confident, go ahead and complete the interview rather than waiting until the deadline. Completing the interview when you feel aptly prepared will make you confident and at ease knowing that you are not rushing to meet a deadline.

Find a place where you are comfortable. You have complete control over the location. Use it wisely. Go somewhere that you are comfortable, but make sure the setting is professional–not your bedroom. By choosing a comfortable location that you are familiar with, you ease your anxiety during the interview, and you relieve the stress of scrambling to find a location typical of traditional interviews. By choosing a professional location, you send the message that you thought and planned ahead and are taking the interview seriously.

Record yourself. Unlike face-to-face interviews, one-way video interviews don’t offer eye-contact or non-verbal cues. A video interview is exactly like recording yourself, so practicing alone is easy. Whatever you see is exactly what they see. You may feel strange and uncomfortable watching yourself, but the video doesn’t lie, and you can see yourself as the interviewer sees you. However, practicing alone makes it easy to lose focus, so do a mock video interview. Have a friend give you an unexpected, potential interview question. Take 30 seconds to plan your answer, spend two minutes answering the question, and review the video with the friend to get a sense of having someone else evaluate your performance.

Take advantage of the planning time. Having a moment to plan and organize your thoughts is the most beneficial aspect of a video interview. After the question is asked, you will typically have 30 unrecorded seconds to plan your response. In a face-to-face interview, you have to think on your feet, and you have to respond immediately. Develop your answer, organize your main points, and write them down. Put the notes out of the camera’s view. Once the recorder begins, maintain eye contact with the camera, but glance at your written notes if you forget what you are going to say next. By capitalizing on the planning time, you can provide a well-organized and effective response.

A video interview may seem like an intimidating and foreign concept, but you can ace the interview by using the freedom of the process properly. Also, understand that many of the strategies we have learned for performing traditional interviews also apply to a video interview, so consult Kyra Harakal’s post to review some tips about how to interview well. And relax.


Ryan Ramsey

Business Administration Major

Kenan-Flagler Business School