Making a good impression
Find out about video and telephone interviews
Video interviews are often used by companies as a screening method earlier in the recruitment process, usually before a more formal in person interview or assessment centre. Video interviews have become increasingly more popular over recent years as they are often cost-saving and more time-efficient for both companies and applicants.
Live video interview or pre-recorded?
Before starting your interview preparation, it’s important to first establish what type of video interview you will be undertaking. Information on the format should be clear on the invitation you have received to join a video interview. Typically these type of interviews fall into two main categories:
Live video interview
- Like a face to face interview, it will be held in real time and you will speak with either a single interviewer or an interview panel through a virtual platform such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Pre-recorded video interview
- A pre-recorded interview will not be held live with an interviewer or panel and instead will ask you pre-recorded or written questions. Your answers to these questions will be recorded by video and will often have a time limit of one to three minutes.
- Responses to your questions will usually be recorded directly through the employer’s own interview platform (which you’ll be invited to). Popular platforms used by employers include: HireVue, Spark Hire and Willo. Alternatively, for some pre-recorded interviews you may be required to use your own device to record your answers and upload to the employer.
- Once you have established the type of interview you will be doing, it is important like any interview to ensure that you undertake some research into the organisation you are applying to.
- Research the job vacancy - understand what the employer is looking for and familiarise yourself with the job description and/or person specification and consider what types of questions they may ask and how you might answer them.
- Reflect on your different experiences to help answer potential questions and demonstrate how you meet different requirements. Prepare some examples where you have demonstrated specific skill or evidenced significant achievements. Familiarising yourself with your application offers a good starting point and provides an opportunity for you to elaborate.
- Ensure to prepare some questions to ask the interviewer - these should focus on the role itself, the organisation or career development. Avoid questions about salary and working hours at this stage.
Beyond this guide, research more advice and tips on how best to prepare for video interviews, such as this TargetJobs’ Pathway which provides a short 35 minute online module on How to perform your best with pre-recorded video interviews. More suggested resources can be found at the end of this guide.
- Do a technical check ahead of your interview. In the invitation letter to your interview you should be told what platform you will be using for either your live or pre-recorded interview. Familiarising yourself with the platform beforehand will help you feel more confident with how to navigate it and help avoid technical issues on the day.
- Set up your space - as much as possible, try to ensure you have an environment that will support you in giving a good impression during your interview. Opt for a quiet space with good WiFi connection and where you can, avoid any disruptions. If this is difficult to achieve, consider other venues where you may be able to access a quieter space, for example, perhaps somewhere on university campus. Busy backgrounds to your video can be distracting so if possible, ensure these are clear and neutral - most video software also allows you to blur your background.
Practise interview questions
Practising questions will help you to develop your answers and will make you feel more confident for your real interview. Once you are familiar with the job description, the organisations and the types of questions you may be asked, you can then begin practising your answers. Our dedicated page on Interview questions you might be asked is a good place to start.
Ahead of practising your responses, it will also help to have had some thought already about which areas of your experience you could refer to for different questions (consider your degree, volunteering and extracurricular activities as well as paid employment. Identify specific scenarios, situations and achievements gained from these areas that can help you best answer these questions.
Now you’re ready, so how can you practise? The best way is to try this actively by practising your answers aloud and reflecting on your responses to identify ways you might be able to improve. There are lots of ways this can be achieved and the below outlines some common ways:
- Undertake a mock interview with a trained professional and get tips and constructive feedback to strengthen your approach. This is a service we provide within our own Careers and Employability Service. To request a mock interview appointment with one of our Career Advisers, complete our short Careers Support Request form.
- Use a video interview practice tool to familiarise yourself with this style of interview. Practice through these platforms can be helpful for both virtual and in-person interview preparation. There are a variety of video interview practice platforms out there, such as the LinkedIn Prep Interview Tool. These tools help to practise questions within a given timeframe and some will offer you automated feedback on your responses. Many companies using video interviews, will often provide an option to practise a couple of questions to familiarise yourself with the format before recording your actual responses, so look out for these!
- Practise with someone you trust. Depending on the type of interview you have coming up, you may choose to practise with somebody in a way that will match this e.g in person for a face to face interview or via a live video link for a virtual interview. If the interview you are preparing is recorded, you may even decide to record responses to questions on your phone and ask your trusted person to provide you with feedback.
- Practise your responses in front of a mirror. Although practising with someone else or via a video platform may feel a little more natural, practising in this way can really help you get comfortable with being in a more uncomfortable and unnatural setting.
On the day
Although not in person, it is important that you dress for the job you want, this will make the employer feel you are taking the opportunity seriously and will help you feel more professional on the day. Don’t fall into the trap of just dressing smart on your top half as you may find yourself needing to stand up for something
It is normal to feel nervous for your interview, it is important to speak clearly where possible. This will allow the employer to fully take in your responses and will also demonstrate a clear skill requirement for them, good verbal communication skills
You don’t want to start fidgeting halfway through, especially if this impacts the camera settings
It’s tempting to look at the screen but then the interviewer will see you looking away from them. Good positioning of your camera can minimise problems
Video Interview Resources
- 16 Video Interview Tips for Success - Coursera
- Expert video interview tips to impress recruiters - TargetJobs
- Screening Call: Video Job Interview Preparation Tips - LinkedIn Learning Blog
- Top video interview tips to succeed - Bright Network
- Video interview tips - Prospects
- Virtual/Video Interview Tips: The Ultimate Guide on How to Prepare - Wikijob
Although video interviews are now the most common form of screening interview, some employers will use telephone interviews as a way of screening applicants in the earlier stages of the recruitment process.
In many ways, telephone interviews operate in a very similar way to live video interviews, with just the use of a camera removed. Due to the lack of visual visibility in a telephone call, the interviewer is likely to put even more focus on aspects such as the content of your answers, tone and pacing, as they won’t be able to make their assessment on body language. A few tips on how to perform well for your next telephone interview have been outlined below.
- On your application ensure to provide a telephone number that is only answered by you where possible.
- Ensure if your call is missed for any reason, that you have your voicemail set-up to capture any key messages. Setting up your voicemail with your own personalised message can sound more professional and ensures the caller that they have reached the right person.
- If you are expecting a telephone call at a particular day or time, ensure your phone is fully charged and that you are in an area of good signal so as not to miss the call.
- Try to take the call in a space where you won’t be disturbed and distractions are removed (or at least limited).
- If a company hasn’t warned you of their call beforehand and they call you unexpectedly, don't feel pressured to take the interview there and then. It’s okay to ask for an alternative date, just be sure to confirm that you’re still interested.
- If you miss their call, phone back as soon as possible. Be prepared to do the interview immediately or give alternative dates if that’s not convenient for them. If you need to leave a message, make sure you give your name, the title of the vacancy you’ve applied for and your phone number. Make sure you let them know you’re still interested.
- Answer the phone professionally – for example, "good morning, [your name] speaking" will set the right tone and the caller will know they're through to the right person.
- Smile – your interviewer may not be able to see you, but psychologically it will make you feel more positive and enthusiastic and this will come across in your voice.
- Listen carefully to what your interviewer has to say and make a note of your interviewer's name.
- If you don't understand a question, ask for it to be repeated or rephrased.
- Throughout the interview, try to convey your enthusiasm for the role – remember, the interviewer cannot see you so you have to find other ways to make sure they're in no doubt about your interest.
- Remember to speak clearly – you can't rely on facial expressions or hand gestures to clarify what you're saying, so make sure you give full answers which convey exactly what you mean. Our own guidance on Interview questions you might be asked is a good place to start and covers how you can ensure you are covering enough detail in your answers via the STAR method.
- At the end of the interview, you're likely to be asked if you have any questions. Refer to your list of prepared questions, but use only those that haven't been covered during the interview.
- Finally, thank your interviewer for their time and for the opportunity to interview for the job. Reaffirm your interest in the role and ask what you can expect to happen next and when.
- End the interview on a positive note and then send an email to say thank you and restate your interest.
Telephone Interview Resources
- How to handle a telephone interview - TargetJobs
- How to prepare for a telephone interview - Jobsite UK
- Seven top tips for your telephone interview - Bright Network
Additional Preparations and Tips
For video interviews you’ll need a device with an in-built camera and telephone interviews require you to have access to a phone number.
You should also prepare:
- A notepad and pen to make important notes during or after the interview.
- A copy of your completed application form or CV and any notes you've made.
- Your diary – if your diary is on your phone, keep a paper copy so you can check your availability for the next stage of the assessment process without compromising the call.
- A glass of water in case your mouth dries up.
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