Tips for Candidates – Online One-Way Video Interviews

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The one way video interview is on the rise: companies like Apple, Twitter, Google, and many more use a one way video interview at some point in their hiring process. Some estimates have seen a nearly 30% increase in the use of pre-recorded interviews in the last year. While one way interviews are a great time-saving tool for recruiters, they can be an awkward experience for the candidate.


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7 Essential Tips to Give Your Candidates (PDF)


Unlike in-person interviews, one way video interviews require a different type of preparation from potential hires. The job candidate doesn’t have the advantage of reading social cues that come up in the course of normal conversation. There’s often a limited amount of time in which to record your response. A candidate has to answer the question and showcase their personality within the limits of the screen and question parameters. It can be a challenge to convey what makes a candidate the best fit without the benefit of an in-person connection.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to make your interview stand out from the pack. Knowing that a one way video interview can actually help your application is the first step toward success. Take these steps to knock your next pre-recorded interview out of the park.

Set up for your one way interview

Pay attention to lighting, posture, background, and background noise. Find a nice, well-lit space with a blank background. A plain wall, a screen, or a bookshelf (but make sure there isn’t anything weird behind you) work best. Experts suggest having at least two feet of distance between the background behind you. That space can reduce the shadow and make the lighting more flattering. If you don’t have a webcam, you can use your phone’s camera to record your answers. No matter what device you use, test your microphone and camera angle beforehand. Set yourself up to make a great first impression!

Setting up a computer device for a one way video interview.

Prepare answers for your one way video interview

Before your interview, do your research and speak to the recruiter to get a full understanding of how the process will work. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Can you re-record your answers?
  • Will you have the questions ahead of time?
  • When is the interview due, and how long will you have to record it?
  • How much time do you have for each question?
  • Will you be able to review your videos before submitting?

It’s common for pre-recorded interviews to let you re-record your answers, but you need to go into the experience prepared. If it isn’t possible to re-record, make sure you do a few test runs before entering the formal interview experience.

Preparing a list of questions for an interview

Rehearse your answers for a one way video interview

Even if there are no time limits placed on the length of your answers, the best pre-recorded interview answers are succinct and well-prepared. Plan ahead what you want to say, given that each video interview has a short window in which you can record your answer.

There’s a hidden risk with one way videos: you don’t want to rehearse too much. Over-preparing your response can lead to your answers sounding static and robotic. Video interviews already make it hard to showcase your personality; memorising your answers can only compound the problem. Even if you don’t have the questions ahead of time, you can anticipate some of the most common interview questions and prepare for those accordingly.

If you don’t receive the answers ahead of time, make sure to have your resume or the job description handy. Prepare as you would for any other interview and take time to review standard interview questions.

Rehearsing for one way video interview

Figure out what the interviewer needs to know

One way interviews are part of a larger application process that may involve your LinkedIn, resume, phone screen, or second in-person interview. Think about where in the recruiting process you are, and then prepare to show the recruiter something new. Is this a skills-based interview section, or a pre-screen before inviting you in person? What will a recruiter be looking for to move you to the next phase?

7 important tips for candidates: 

  1. Meet the deadline.
    You will usually be given at least a few days to complete the one way video interview. This means you are able to choose a time that suits you, that is free from distractions. To leave a positive impression, it is recommended to try to complete and submit your interview as early as possible before the due date. If you leave it until the last minute, you run the risk of technical difficulties or unexpected factors tarnishing your opportunity to complete it, and missing out entirely. 
  2. Dress like you’re in an in-person interview.
    Despite the employers only being able to see a small view of you, it is still important to dress professionally. You always have to remember that this is the first time the employers are seeing you, and you want to leave a good impression. 
  3. Before you start recording for a question, check to see what the time restrictions are.
    Be aware that if you have practiced an answer to a question that is 10 minutes long, but you only have 5 minutes to answer, you may need to make adjustments in order to abide by the time limit. There is nothing worse than being halfway through your strongest point or most important information, and then the timer running out. Adjust your points and the order you are going to say your answers in according to the amount of time available. 
  4. Maintain eye contact with the camera.
    Although it may feel unnatural to keep your eyes focused on a camera for a period of time, this is very important. If you are constantly looking around the room you’re in, or out the window, or appear to be reading a script, this not only makes it out as though you are unprepared but also, unprofessional. You want to avoid it seeming as though you’re unfocused and being distracted, so make sure you are always looking at the camera.
  5. Make sure you have a strong connection to the internet.
    The last thing you want is to be halfway through recording or uploading a video, and your internet cuts out. The risk is that before you can fix it, your recording is gone, the timer is up, and you have missed the opportunity to answer that question. To avoid this, make sure your connection to the internet is strong before starting the interview, and if you can, ask other people in your house or office to stop using the internet for the ten or so minutes it will take for you to complete your one way video interview. Also, shut down all the other apps and tabs on your device. This will also work to help reduce the likelihood of the internet cutting out, as it is being used up by a reduced amount of programs. 
  6. Sit on a comfortable, quiet, and stable chair.
    Although it may be the last thing you think to consider before completing a one way video interview, but what you choose to sit on for the duration of the interview actually matters. Swivel chairs, chairs that creek when you move or lean back, or exercise balls that make it difficult to stay still in the one spot may not be the best choice of chair to choose to complete the interview. If your video shows you slighting swinging in your chair, bouncing on the ball, or an eerie creek is heard every time you move, this can prove to be distracting to the employers and end up negatively affecting the quality of your interview. You don’t want to look as though you are uneasy, uncomfortable or nervous, therefore try to sit on something steady, that will keep you stationary throughout the interview. 
  7. Finally, put any pets that may interrupt your video outside
    Imagine practicing your response to the question, perfectly executing it for the video, getting to the last few words before ending the recording; only for your puppy to run into the room barking in the last two seconds. Background noise from pets can not only be distracting for you, but also for your employer. It is important to try to eliminate this interference as best as possible, therefore consider putting your pet outside, or perhaps asking somebody else in your house to take them for a walk for the duration of your one way video interview.
One way video interview being interrupted by a cat

Treat your pre-recorded interview like a normal job interview: prepare, address the interviewer with confidence, and do your best to highlight qualities that can’t be found on your resume. One way interviews are designed to help candidates succeed, rather than fail. Follow these tips to make the most of your opportunity to find the right position for your career!

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