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A guide to modern interviews: pre-screening and video calls

Recruiters are increasingly using video interviews and pre-screenings, but do you know the difference? And do you know how to conduct yourself professionally on camera to maximise your chances of making it to the next round of interviews?

Having a round of video interviews before recruiters meet candidates face-to-face has become commonplace in today’s job market. This is in order to save on costs and quickly whittle down large numbers of candidates. In recent years, video pre-screenings are also being used more and more.

What is a video pre-screening?

This is where a company prepares some questions and asks candidates to upload a video recording of themselves answering those questions.

How to prepare for a video pre-screening

  • In some ways, a pre-recorded interview puts you at an advantage because you know what the questions are beforehand and so can prepare your best answers.
  • You also have the advantage of being able to record as many videos as you like. If you make a mistake, you can do-over your answers until you’re happy and send over a polished final recording.
  • Just like a live video call and face-to-face interview, you should dress appropriately and take care over the video production – find a quiet, uncluttered space with good lighting and make sure your tech works.
  • Finally, make sure you follow the instructions. This may sound obvious, but sometimes it’s easy to carelessly miss out a question, or upload your video in the wrong file format. It’s little things like this that can put a recruiter off when comparing you to another equally qualified candidate. The recruiter knows you have had more time to prepare your recording than you would in a face-to-face scenario, so may judge your submission more harshly than if you had been put on the spot.

How to prepare for a video call

  • To begin with, prepare like you would for a normal interview. Research the company, prepare answers for common interview questions and have some examples prepared of scenarios where you have particularly excelled at work or overcome obstacles. For more tips on preparing for interview questions, click here.
  • You should also dress as you would for a normal interview – choose an appropriate level of smartness for the job you are applying for.
  • Video interviews give you the unique advantage of being able to have your notes in front of you if you get stuck. If you’re smart about it you can make it look natural, by placing them directly behind the lens of your webcam on a piece of paper, or having them typed up on your screen. Just make sure you never look as though you’re reading the answers.
  • Ensure you get the basics of your video production right. You’ll need a good internet connection, good lighting and no background noise or distractions. Failing to do these basic things can easily make you look unprofessional and decrease your chances of making a good first impression.
  • You still need to be punctual, so be ready in front of your computer 15 minutes before the interview start-time with all of your tech set up. You should not be fiddling around with power cables, microphones or camera angles after the interview starts.

Tips for being on camera

Whether you’re preparing for a live video interview or a pre-recorded video, you will greatly benefit from practising appearing on camera. Record yourself as you practice answering questions and make sure you’re following these tips:

  • Don’t fidget – this can be very distracting and appears more obvious on camera
  • Smile, as the camera tends to make a neutral face appear more miserable than it actually is
  • Don’t lick your lips, as this really stands out on camera and can look salacious
  • Look into the camera, not at your computer screen, to mimic eye contact with the interviewer

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