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How to ace a pre-recorded interview

A laughing ethnic woman looking at her laptop
Try and be as natural as possible in a pre-recorded interview. (Getty)

Virtual job interviews are a great way of assessing candidates remotely, but they can be a challenge. Not only is it strange to switch to “professional mode” while in your own home, interviewing lots of potential employees via Skype or Zoom can take a long time.

With pre-recorded interviews, candidates are normally given a set of interview questions and asked to record themselves answering these questions. In some cases, you may be asked to fill in your answers online within a certain timeframe — or be timed as you answer the questions.

“A pre-recorded interview means advance knowledge of what you’ll be asked which means time to plan and perhaps re-record your answers,” says Richard Warren, CEO of RBW Consulting, a global recruitment company. “Candidates should use this opportunity to give more comprehensive overviews of their skills and suitability than a typical interview.”

So how can you nail this kind of job interview?

Imagine you are having a live conversation

Firstly, the pre-recorded format can feel unnatural to some people. It can help to imagine that you are having a live conversation, to avoid coming across as robotic.

READ MORE: Should we be taking microbreaks to get us through the day?

You want to try and be as natural as possible, so glancing at bullet points instead of reading from a script can be helpful.

Know your audience

If you can, Warren advises asking your recruiter or hiring manager to clarify a few points ahead of time to find out what is driving the hire. “Is it due to the team expanding? Other questions to ask could include who will review your video, where they sit in the organisation relative to your desired position and what might each be looking for,” he says.

“Combining these insights with your normal background research — company data, sector news, industry outlook, and so on — and candidates will have a great chance of hitting the nail on the head.”

Plan your interview

As with all interviews, preparation is key. Your preparation for the interview will be especially useful, especially if it is timed — so make sure you have your answers at the ready.

“A prospective employer wants to see evidence that you understand the business, the sector and the challenges,” Warren says.

“It is important to bring in evidence of that understanding into your answers with logical, salient points which fit the question. Have the job description to hand with keywords and phrases highlighted alongside a list of the points you want to get across which seem most important.”

Don’t rush

It’s tempting to push through all the questions quickly to get the interview over and done with, particularly if you are nervous. You might also rush through your answers if you are being timed, but this can backfire.

READ MORE: How to communicate effectively when video conferencing

Remember to breathe before you start answering any questions and think about how you want to come across to an interviewer.

“Read the questions,” Warren advises. “What are they really asking? What do you imagine they’re looking for in an answer, and what does it tell you about their priorities in this hire? Take note of the keywords in the questions.”

Get comfortable with your success

It can feel a little awkward to brag about your achievements in a job interview, but it is an opportunity to show a potential employer what you have accomplished and what you are capable of.

“There’s a world of difference between, ‘We worked on’ or ‘My team did’ and ‘I delivered’. It can be natural to be self-effacing, but a pre-recorded answer gives you a perfect chance to own your successes.

Get comfortable talking about ‘I’, and practice before you start recording.

READ MORE: How to stop feeling awkward and self-conscious on Zoom

Be yourself

“Interview prep clichés all apply, but what especially stands out in this format is authenticity,” Warren says.

“The aim is to show your most genuine self in your answers and delivery. The people watching your video are looking for a colleague they want to work with, be yourself and you’ll land the right job for you.”

⁠Careers clinic
⁠Careers clinic