If you're currently looking for new opportunities in the job market, chances are you'll have come across at least one job application that requires a pre-recorded video interview. This type of interview usually occurs at the beginning of the interview process as the initial candidate screen. What makes it different from a phone screen or other video interview is that the interviewer isn't physically present when the candidate is answering interview questions. Recruiters and hiring managers usually prepare a set of questions ahead of time about the advertised role and send candidates a link through which they can record their answers. Once the video recording is submitted, the recruiter/hiring manager will evaluate the answers and determine whether to invite the candidate for a face-to-face interview.
1. Read and follow the instructions
It sounds obvious but you will be more successful in the interview and you will demonstrate your ability to work carefully and thoroughly by following the directions for the interview very carefully. Avoid making assumptions about the process that could be wrong.
2. Meet the deadline
The good news is that you can usually pick a time for the interview that is the best for you. The employer usually sets a "due date" for when the interview should be completed. Know that date and meet that deadline. If possible, beat that deadline by several hours or even days. Avoid doing the interview at the last possible moment to make the best impression on the employer.
3. Make sure you have the right devices available
If you have no other options, you can probably use your smartphone for this interview, assuming it has a camera. However, you will very likely make the best impression using a camera connected to a computer, assuming the computer also has a microphone and a speaker. When possible, test the connection to be sure it works before the interview regardless of device used. In advance, test your microphone and camera to be sure that they work. Even perfect answers to the questions won't make an impact if they can't hear your answers or see you talk. When you are answering a question, look directly at the camera rather than at your computer screen. Imagine that the personal who will be viewing this video is right there in the camera. Pretend you are talking to that person.
4. Do your homework
Carefully review the job description and highlight where you meet or exceed the requirements. Learn all about the company, its competitors, its products, and its goals. Know who they are and where they are going. Then, be sure to focus on how you align with the job's requirements as well as the employer's goals and mission.
5. Have your interview answers ready
If you receive the questions in advance, you have received a fabulous opportunity to be well-prepared. Script out your answers in advance, remembering to give clear and concise answers that evidence your accomplishments, skills and experience. If you don't receive the questions in advance, be prepared to answer the standard job interview questions and potential questions that might come up as a result of the job description and company. Either way focus on the challenges you faced, the actions you took, and the results you attained. Say “Me” not “We” and “I” not “Us”. They want to know what YOU did and can do.
6. Don’t read from a script
The key is to be yourself and treat this like you would any normal interview. If you have received the questions in advance don’t read out your answers word for word as this will sound scripted. It’s important that you add personality to what you are saying and appear natural. Use key bullets points as prompts that will help you to communicate the main points but also allow for a free flow of dialogue too. If necessary stick post it notes round your screen to remind you of key points but also to remind you of your behaviour points. Clear and concise communication skills are an important part of any job and this is your chance to showcase your skills. Be confident, articulate, don’t rush and don’t forget to smile. Avoid any bad habits, like playing with your hair, looking away from the camera or too many ‘ums’.
7. Stay calm and answer the question
It might feel awkward to answer pre-recorded interview questions without the interviewer physically present, but it's important to maintain a relaxed body language. Enunciate your words clearly as well, the last thing you want is for your excellent point of view to be lost in your mumbling! Listen to each question, take your time to contemplate the answer, respond in a calm manner, and make sure that you're addressing the question being asked. Going off track and beating around the bush isn't going to do you any favours in a video interview, especially if there is a time limit on your answer.
Stay positive and showcase your personality. Remember, interviewers and decision makers are interested in getting to know you as a person, not just listening to a memorized list of accomplishments.
8. Choose your location carefully
Choose a quiet spot where you will be the only person visible (and audible). Turn off your mobile phone and any other devices in the room that may create ambient noise. Keep the background as simple as possible, like a plain wall, or something else that is unlikely to cause a problem or create a distraction. Make sure the camera is at eye level when you sit down. If possible, have a light showing on your face from in front of you so that your face is well lit. Test the lighting to find the best position for it. A lamp which is slightly above your face and behind the camera, shining on you, is usually the most flattering. You may need to close the curtains to prevent glare if you're recording in the daytime. Also make sure that you have a great internet connection to prevent disruptions.
9. Practice, practice, practice
There is no such thing as too much practice for something like this. You must know your script well enough to be natural. When you answer the questions you need to sound like it is second nature to share this information. You won’t have that unless you memorise it, practice it aloud, and grow into it. Record yourself and play it back, look at the areas to improve and keep practicing until you get them right.
10. Be the best you
The best you sits up straight and leans slightly forward, makes eye contact, remembers to smile and show personality, and talks in a clear, well-modulated voice. Don’t whisper, mumble, or fidget. Just because you are not face-to-face does not make this any more casual. You want to be well-groomed and well-dressed, avoiding distractive prints, overly bright colours, and noisy jewellery. You want the focus to be on you, not on what you are wearing.
11. Pay attention to the clock
Usually these interviews have both an overall time-limit and a question time limit. So, put a clock where you can easily see it, and use the time wisely. If you have practiced each answer and test recorded them you will be able to get it down perfectly in the timelines required.
12. Follow up
The video interview process doesn't end once you submit your recorded answers; be sure to show your courtesy by sending a thank-you email to the interviewer or employer on the day of submission. In the email, you can indicate your interest by asking about the next steps and when you should expect to hear a response. It helps to show your interest by keeping a constant stream of communication between yourself and the interviewer. You can email them once a week to follow up and reiterate your interest. But keep in mind, anything more frequent might make you appear aggressive and desperate! Following up is important, but too much of it can have a negative impact.