Pre-recorded interviews have become much more commonplace, particularly as part of large companies’ first steps for prospective employees. While more convenient for the employer and less nerve-wracking for the employee, this interview format can prove challenging to interviewees. This is due to a lack of personal connection while interviewing, as well as an inability for the interviewer to ask follow-up questions. With this in mind, we’ve collated several useful tips:
Give yourself ample time to prepare
Depending on the job you are applying for, the deadline for completing the pre-recorded interview can be anywhere from ten days to 72 hours, meaning that there may be a rush to get the interview completed. Most companies outline the interview process on their information page, so take a look at their website before sending your application to get an idea of how long you will be given to complete your pre-recorded interview. If there is no indication, you could draft a few simple answers to questions that can be expected for the sector you are applying for, so you are still proactively preparing and getting into the mindset of interview preparation.
Use Glassdoor to aid preparation
Glassdoor is an excellent resource to view interview questions in advance. After you’ve signed up for free, you can view an unlimited number of questions that other candidates have been asked during their interviews, with other users providing practice answers to these questions. This is great for getting an idea of what answers to prepare, meaning that during the interview you can better anticipate what is coming next.
This should not be your only method of preparation however, as interview questions change and not all users will post about their interview experience, so reading the job description and drafting answers for each of the skills required from you is also vital. Additionally, as interview questions change, having key examples which cover a set of skills and situations rather than answering a specific question means your examples are more flexible. Labelling examples in your notes as ‘problem-solving’ or ‘teamwork’ or ‘time-pressure’ may help you differentiate which answers are useful for certain types of questions.
Use the STAR Method
As you have no one interviewing you to cover any points you may miss, having examples which are structured not only help the interviewer understand your answers better, but also will ensure you do not forget to include any vital details. The STAR method breaks down your answer into four easy steps: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. The situation is a two-to-three sentence description of the context of the situation. The task is a description of the situation at hand and your responsibilities. The action is your opportunity to explain what steps you took to address the situation, ensuring that you use strong active verbs to drive home the action you took. Finally, the result is your time to share the outcomes of your actions. If relevant, add in a statistic here to further highlight the positive impact of your actions.
This method is not applicable to every type of question however, and is primarily used for behavioural questions such as ‘tell me about a time when…’, or ‘Give me an example of…’. This does make up a large chunk of interview questions, so it is important to learn for all interviews, not just pre-recorded interviews. Furthermore, this structure can be tailored for other types of questions to ensure that all your answers are comprehensible to the employer.
Practise in front of a mirror
While having a script and memorising your answers may sound like the best course of action, and may work for some, in reality it may cause you to over-prepare and not sound natural. To remedy this, writing out the key points on a piece of paper and practicing your answer in front of a mirror helps you to get a natural flow to your answer, while also ensuring you cover all the points from the STAR method. Similarly, you may also wish to record yourself and play it back, but the most important aspect is being able to use your notes to answer the question concisely and confidently.
Make sure your background is clear
Great lighting and a clear background is paramount to giving a great first impression. Although conducting the pre-recorded interview at home, clearing out any clutter in the background will stop the employer from becoming distracted, ensuring their focus is kept on you. Ideally a neutral wall is the best backdrop, however any wall that is not overly busy is perfectly fine, as long as the interviewer can clearly see you and your face.
On the day of the interview, having notes to hand is useful for reminding yourself of key points. Posting post-it notes on your desktop or corner of your laptop means you can easily follow your points for specific questions and examples, while also knowing where your notes for each question are without having to search through a notebook or Word document. Keeping these short and concise is necessary to avoid completely reading off them, as well as appearing confident and clear.
Remember to take a breather between questions
Upon seeing the question for the first time during the interview, you may only have 30 seconds to a minute to think of a response before launching into your answer. If you are prepared, this is of course less daunting, however this short amount of preparation time may still feel overwhelming. After you have answered a question, you will be prompted to continue onto the next question when you feel ready, so taking a 30 second breather to have a drink of water, or calm down after a difficult question, is vital to maintain composure. This is the advantage that interviewees have during pre-recorded interviews; you have the space to collect your thoughts to ensure you can answer the next questions as prepared, even after a potential stumble on the previous question.