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4 common mistakes made at video interviews and how you can overcome them

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By Hannah Salton, career coach and former graduate recruiter

Pre-recorded video interviews have grown in popularity amongst employers in the last few years. While it's likely their use will continue to rise, students can be a little wary about what is a relatively new way to assess candidates. Video interviews differ from two-way, live Skype interviews, as they use a pre-recorded set of questions asked over a set period of time, with no conversation. Your responses get recorded on camera – either via webcam or sometimes through your iPad.

I have heard students describe them as impersonal and intimidating, resulting in them feeling they aren’t able to get their best selves across. Graduate recruiters like them as they can be resource-efficient and help to remove inconsistency by using a wide pool of live interviewers. Love them or hate them, they are likely to stick around in some form or another for a while.

Here are my top 4 mistakes to avoid, which will help you succeed at video interview stage:

Mistake number 1 - Not understanding the competencies being assessed

Companies are often very transparent on the competencies being assessed at video interviews. Spend time reflecting on what they are, and what specific examples you could use that demonstrate them. Words such as ‘collaboration’ and ‘leadership’ can mean different things to different companies, so make sure you understand the specific firm’s definition of whatever it is they are assessing.

Mistake number 2 - Thinking that everyone else knows exactly what to do

Video interviews are one of the newest mainstream methods of assessment – and many candidates are still adjusting to the lack of two-way rapport they are able to build when talking to someone face-to-face. Remember – all other candidates are in the same position as you, and many others will find this daunting as well. You aren’t expected to perform exactly the same as you would in a ‘normal’ interview environment, and the person watching your video back will understand the artificial context in which the interview takes place.

Mistake number 3 - Lack of familiarity with the process

It’s worth repeating – recording your answers to a screen is not something any of us are overly familiar with. You must practice so you're more comfortable with the process. Some employers offer practice video interviews – if you get this opportunity, take it as many times as you can to become accustomed to the different way to interview. If a practice interview is not given, ask the company if they have one you can use and if they don’t - use the power of Google to search for a practice tool. Just remember that each firm will have a slightly different way of doing things so the reality may differ from the practices.

Mistake number 4 - Misjudging how long you have to answer the question

Video interviews often stick to quite strict timescales for each question. Make sure you know exactly how long you have for each before you start. Most interviewers want a fairly chunky response to every question, so make sure you tailor your response to the expected length of time. Don’t rush through your answer – the recruiter will be looking for content and detail. Alongside this, make sure you’re clear and concise – there’s no point padding out your answer with fluff and buzzwords if you have already said everything you have to say.

Hannah Salton worked in HR and graduate recruitment for 8 years in the legal and professional services industry. She now owns her own coaching and consulting business, specialising in helping professional create careers they love. For more information visit  or email .