BNP Paribas Real Estate include a video interview in the recruitment process for its graduate programme. After filling out an initial application, submitting a CV and covering letter and completing psychometric tests, a number of candidates will be invited to take part in a video interview. If you impress during this initial video interview, you will then be able to progress to the final stage of the recruitment process – the assessment centre.
We spoke to Kim Brumley, resourcing manager (associate director) at BNP Paribas Real Estate, to find out what you can expect from this stage of the application process and discover how best you can prepare.
How is the video interview carried out?
BNP Paribas Real Estate use a system called Sonru for their video interviews. You will be sent a link to complete your video interview. This link can be accessed on tablets and phones as well as laptops and computers. During the interview you will not be speaking to a recruiter. Instead, you will be shown questions and will have around a minute to think before answering. The system will record your answer and, again, you have a time frame of around a minute.
What difference is there between the video interview and the face-to-face interview?
A major reason that the video interview was introduced is convenience, for candidates as well as for recruiters. As you are able to choose when you want to complete the interview, it can now better fit in with you and other candidates’ schedules.
You no longer need to travel to London for a 30-minute initial face-to-face interview, saving you time, money and, potentially, stress. Kim highlights this convenience, saying: ‘Candidates have got this tool where they can get as much as out of a face-to-face interview without actually leaving the library or their accommodation.'
What types of questions will be asked during BNP Paribas Real Estate’s video interview?
Kim says: ‘In essence we’ve replaced the first stage face-to-face interview. Candidates will answer the same questions that people will have done in this face-to-face interview.’ Following the video interview, there will be a face-to-face interview during BNP Paribas Real Estate’s assessment centre.
BNP Paribas Real Estate’s video interview focuses on your reasons for applying to its graduate programme. Be prepared to talk about:
- what interests you about BNP Paribas Real Estate as an organisation
- why you are interested in the property profession
- what property-related work experience you've done
Tip #1: Give researched answers
Kim advises candidates to do as much preparation for the video interview as they would do for a face-to-face interview.
Do research into BNP Paribas Real Estate and note what about BNPPRE’s structure, projects, values and the training resonates with your own ambitions and working style.
For example, when answering a question such as ‘Why BNP Paribas Real Estate?’ you could choose to illustrate your interest in learning about rural property (if that is the case) by referring to BNP Paribas Real Estate’s recent acquisition of Strutt & Parker; you may be able to express your desire to experience the firm’s expanded rural property departments through the graduate programme’s rotational training structure.
Tip #2: Don’t script your video interview answers
It can be tempting to over-prepare your answers, as you are able to choose when to hold do the video interview. ‘When you are asked “Why are you interested in a career in property?” don’t just sit there and look down and read off a script. It can be quite robotic and off-putting for us when we’re reviewing the interview,’ says Kim. ‘Most people can remember around five facts about an organisation, and that’s all you generally need to know if you are genuine as to why you are applying for the organisation.’
Keep in mind that you will only have a short time to answer. There’s no point preparing 10 minutes’ worth of answer, when you will only have just over a minute in reality. Pick one or two examples for each answer and practise answering to a time limit.
Tip #3: Complete the video interview early
You can choose when to complete the video interview. Kim advises: ‘I would recommend candidates do the interview sooner rather than later as this helps us process all candidates in good time before the assessment centres held in January.’
BNP Paribas Real Estate’s graduate recruitment team will send out invitations to the video interview and to the assessment centre as they receive impressive applications; they won’t wait for the deadline to pass.
Tip #4: Dress for success
‘Check yourself to make sure you’re going to come across smart in terms of your dress – it’s still an interview,’ explains Kim. She adds: ‘But remember recruiters don’t glean any more or less about a candidate’s appearance, skills or personality from doing the video interview compared to a face-to-face interview, apart from whether the candidate is smartly dressed from the waist up.’
Tip #5: Choose a suitable setting for your video interview
As well as appearing professional, you should make sure you are in a suitable environment for the interview to take place. Choose a well-lit and quiet location where the chances of losing internet connection are slim. In addition: ‘Make sure you are not going to be interrupted.’
However, you shouldn’t obsess too much over the details of your background and you shouldn’t worry if things do go wrong. If your interview is plagued by technical issues or you are spectacularly interrupted by intruding family members, trust that recruiters will be able to look past this. Kim reassures us that setting and background won’t play a part in BNP Paribas Real Estate’s decision, as the focus of the recruiter and of the camera will be on the candidate’s face. You can always email BNP Paribas Real Estate’s recruitment team to apologise or offer explanation, if necessary.
Kim recalls how, during recruitment for this year’s summer placement scheme: ‘We had one poor guy who had a coughing fit through one particular question. He dropped us an email apologising for this, but actually all of his answers were very good and he was successful.’ Set the stage for your interview, but remember that you won’t have scuppered your chances if something goes wrong.
Tip #6: Look for help if you need it
Don’t forget that there will be help on hand; many video interview systems will include will include instructional videos to guide you through the process. You will likely also be able to participate in practice interviews with your university careers service. There is also further video interview advice on TARGETjobs.
Tip #7: You can ask BNP Paribas Real Estate for feedback
If, unfortunately, you are unsuccessful at this stage rest assured that BNP Paribas Real Estate’s commitment to providing feedback extends to video interviews. Kim says: ‘If candidates have taken the time to do the video interview we absolutely 100% always offer to give them feedback.’
You will be able use this feedback to strengthen your application skills and have another shot at joining BNP Paribas Real Estate’s graduate programme the following year.
- Read how one graduate improved their employability and got hired on a graduate scheme the following year.