Skype interview

How graduate recruiters use video interviews

Find out about live video interviews and recorded questionnaires and what graduate recruiters look for, whether they use FaceTime, Skype or YouTube.

So you’ve been invited to a graduate job interview by video. Are you filled with horror at the thought or do you see it as an opportunity to show off your presentation skills whilst secretly wearing PJs under the table? Video interviews are the big new buzz for graduate selection so we’ve asked the experts for tips on making the technology work for you.

Be prepared and presentable for your video interview

Don’t risk an embarrassing on-screen moment; check out your background, shut out the wandering cat, silence the dog, warn your flatmates and tidy your screening room, or at least the area that will be in view. A real-time Skype call may sound a friendly proposition but treating any video interview like Skyping your mates would be a mistake, says Chris Krabbé, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

‘Don’t be casual just because you’re connecting to somebody via a laptop in the tip that represents your bedroom,’ he warns, advising candidates to take down the posters and clear the space behind them before switching on the webcam.

‘You actually need to look presentable. You need to look as if you’ve made an effort because first impressions will ALWAYS count whether that’s face-to-face or over a laptop connection. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so if you look as if you’ve just fallen out of bed, or indeed, if you haven’t even got out of bed and it shows…’ Chris may be joking, but the reality is, recruiters will definitely take your video interview seriously their end.

Understand what the recruiters want

Does the job demand presentation skills, video calls or e-conferencing? Is it an international, global company that includes employees halfway around the world in another time zone? An employer may wish to check out how you come across on screen for any or all these reasons. Including a YouTube, Skype and FaceTime interview in the selection process tells recruiters they’re on the right track, but the overriding motivation driving organisations on-screen is the time and money it saves running first round AND second round face-to-face interviews.

What happens in a video interview

An interview format that is becoming increasingly common uses a video questionnaire rather than a live connection with the interviewer. The specifics may change, but in the main, employers set questions or tasks, then use specialist video companies like webrecruit, Sonru, LaunchPad Recruits and InterviewStream to conduct the virtual interview. All the candidates get asked the same questions, and the recruiters can replay or review anything that catches their eye.

Employers say that candidates benefit by starting the session at their own convenience without having to travel or take time off from another job, if they have one. The video companies offer opportunities to undertake practice interviews, but once the real interview begins, you can’t rewind or review your answers. It’s just like a face-to-face interview but with none of the feedback you’d expect from a person-to-person experience.

Skype, FaceTime and video questionnaire interviews are sometimes being used where telephone interviews might once have been, allowing bosses to assess a candidate’s manner and knowledge before inviting them to a face-to-face interview.

Self-recorded and YouTube options tend to be used for sales, media or marketing jobs. A candidate is invited to upload a five minute film to a password protected site to highlight certain aspects of their skills, eg presentation.

It’s not just for graduates

Chris Krabbé says video interviews happen higher up the career ladder too. Managerial candidates for top jobs are encountering rigorous video conferencing interviews in the course of the recruitment process. If you’re apprehensive about your video interview, imagine talking to six small portraits via your laptop, knowing a company executive team is scrutinising your answers as your face beams down from the board room big screen. It’s worth knowing your first experience of video interview may not be your last as your career progresses.

Recruitment law must be followed

Chris Krabbé points out all interviews, however they are conducted, have to comply with recruitment law. Our in-house recruitment experts emphasised that employers will set criteria and must adhere to them however they conduct the interviews, or they could be exposed to accusations of prejudice. What’s more, experts also mention that legally, employers must inform you how long they plan to hold on to the videos, and can only use the recorded material at a later date with your permission. So you don’t have to worry that the dog howling in the background, the cat sitting on your keyboard or your flatmate wafting past with just her towel on, will appear on a YouTube or LolCatz compilation of graduate interview gaffes in the future.

Even with all those reassurances, it’s still better to be safe, than sorry. Make a checklist of our tips and practise before you switch on the webcam and dial up the number. You did remember to close the door – didn’t you?

Seven companies that have used video interviews