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3 Video interviews

Employers are increasingly using video interviews as part of their recruitment processes – either live, using a video conferencing tool with a recruiter at the other end, or recorded, where you answer pre-set questions using your own equipment and submit them when you’ve finished.

Live video interviews follow the same rules as any ordinary interview but it can be useful to be aware of how you come across on camera. Practise by using Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts etc. with your friends or family. You’ll explore these online conferencing tools in more detail in Week 7 when you investigate virtual internships.

Pre-recorded video interviews are a bit different and can feel quite uncomfortable when you don’t have a person to interact with, i.e. there are no visual cues or encouragement/feedback from dialogue with an interviewer. Knowing what to expect can help to build your confidence. A good first step is to be more aware of the practicalities involved.

Box 3 gives some practical points to consider when preparing for a pre-recorded video interview.

Box 3 Practical points to consider when preparing for a pre-recorded video interview

  • The employer will provide you with login details.
  • You’ll usually be able to check that your equipment works and have a practice run before you start.
  • During the interview, the questions will appear on the screen and you’ll have a set time to read and then answer them. This time can vary between employers but is usually around 30–90 seconds. The time is often displayed on the screen so you can keep an eye on how much you have left.
  • You can usually choose when you start recording but you can’t stop and restart unless there is a technical problem.
  • If there is a technical problem, the software should sort it out but there will be a helpline number available just in case. Make it clear in your recording or to the person interviewing you that something has gone wrong.

For both a live and pre-recorded interview it will be important to consider the following:

  • location – think about background and lighting and make sure you are somewhere you won’t be disturbed or easily distracted
  • equipment – make sure your internet connection, webcam and microphone are working correctly and that you are happy with the position of your camera; ideally you should aim to have it slightly above eye level
  • practise – speaking over a video connection can be strange if you haven’t done it before; for example, the appearance of eye contact comes from looking into the camera rather than at the screen, and the images and sound sometimes lag.

A video interview might be something you haven’t experienced yet or, if you have, it might be something you don’t yet feel comfortable with. If this is the case, Activity 4 will give you an opportunity to practise and build your confidence.

Activity 4 Practising for a video interview

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes for this activity

Go to the Assessment Day website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] where you have the opportunity to do a practice recording.

The technical requirements to participate are as follows:

Ensure you have a webcam and microphone connected to your PC or laptop. You will also need to allow access to your microphone and camera on your phone. This will be used only to record your responses. You can then play them back to review your responses yourself. You will also need Flash installed on your browser.

If you don’t have the equipment required, ask a friend or family member to record you on their camera or phone.

Choose one or more of the following practice questions suggested by Assessment Day (no date):

  • Tell me about a time you needed to use teamwork to solve a problem. (Use the STAR technique for this one from Activity 2.)
  • What motivates you at work?
  • Describe a time when you needed to develop an unconventional approach to solve an existing problem. (STAR technique.)
  • Which achievements are you particularly proud of?

If you prefer, you could choose one of the strengths-based questions listed in the previous section.


How did that feel? How did you come across? Were you awkward and hesitant or did you feel confident? What was your body language like?

Did you structure your answer using STAR? Did you take the opportunity to highlight some of your key strengths?

The benefit of getting a friend to film you is that they can give you feedback too. If you did it on the website this time, perhaps ask a friend to help you next time.

As well as Assessment Day, guidance on video interviews for candidates is also offered by Sonru and LaunchPad Recruits – two online platforms used by recruiters for video interviewing. You can access their websites in the Further reading section of this week.

If you are currently studying at university, some university careers services can give you access to practice interview opportunities on these platforms. For example, the Open University Careers and Employability Services have access to Sonru and students can apply to take part and get feedback from an employer or a careers consultant.

A networking event is another opportunity for face-to-face interaction with potential employers, and you’ll investigate these further in the next section.