Remote Interview: What to Know

With the passing of another year, it is the season of campus recruitment at the end of each year. Looking back on the campus recruitment in the past two years, besides the increasingly fierce competition and severe situation, the recruitment process is also changing due to various objective reasons: more and more processes are conducted online, and online applications, online tests and video interviews have become a common means of screening.

What is a video interview
In today’s campus recruiting process, video interviews are usually conducted after the resume is submitted and before the live (remote) interview, as an important part of the initial screening process.

Compared to traditional video interviews, video interviews have the following characteristics.

Break through time constraints: With “asynchronous” video communication, both companies and students can complete the entire process at their own most suitable time, without having to consider both parties’ schedules, time differences, etc. According to the Hirevue platform, 42% of interview videos are recorded outside of regular working hours (evenings, weekends, etc.).

Standardized model: The entire process is designed strictly according to the instructions provided by the company. This standardized model reduces human intervention in the interview process and ensures that candidates are treated as equally as possible in the process.

Economies of scale: Video interviews reduce the cost of time required and give more candidates the opportunity to pass the resume hurdle and get a chance to further present themselves.
Limited opportunity: In a traditional live interview, candidates have some flexibility: the interviewer is not deadlocked in time, and candidates can add to their previous questions in subsequent Q&A sessions. Video interviews, on the other hand, require a “one-shot” approach, with no more opportunities for remediation.

Video Interview Process
Generally, after being selected for a video interview, candidates will receive an email with a link to the website. The email will also indicate the deadline for login. Based on the experience in the past two years, if the number of candidates is high, HR will sort and provide them to the business line for screening in batches. Therefore, it is recommended to complete the video as early as possible to get a head start.

After entering the interface, an explanation of the process and an environmental test are usually provided first to ensure that the camera, microphone and other equipment are working properly. Before the formal start, a practice question is sometimes provided to give the candidate a feel for the system, duration and operation. This is a good time to think of it as a real interview question to warm yourself up.

The next step is to get into a real interview scenario. In the case of Hirevue, the interview questions will appear on the screen, and a video of the questions will be recorded below. After the video is played, a countdown will take place on the screen, providing 30 seconds to 1 minute to prepare. Once you are ready, the system automatically starts recording and timing. When the answer time is up, the system automatically stops. Typically, the system will provide two video recording sessions. However, it is important to note that the second recording automatically overwrites the first and becomes the final submission. This means that if something goes wrong with the second recording, there is no chance to fix it.

Between each question, candidates can control their own pace, but it is important to note: once you click through to the next question, the countdown for the corresponding session will begin.

The interviewer’s perspective
Before we discuss how to prepare, it is good to understand how companies evaluate these videos so that “you know your enemy and know yourself.

For video interviews, in many cases the questions will be “behavioral interviews” (or “competency-based interviews”). The format of the question is usually “Please describe an experience of xxx”, telling a story.

But of course, the interviewer is not here to listen to stories, and there is a hidden agenda behind each question. In the interviewer’s interface, the purpose of HR’s question design (i.e., the main points to be examined, such as business perception, team spirit, communication skills, etc.) will be shown next to each question. As interviewers, we will look for elements (indicators) in the “story” based on these elements and score them.

Of course, in addition to these obvious elements, we also take into account some “roll scores”, such as the ability to express the language, naturalness, and attitude of the interview.

Therefore, for the characteristics and evaluation basis of video interview, we can do some preparation before the interview and pay attention to some points in the interview.

Things to do before the interview
Prepare your own library of material
Before conducting the interview, it is recommended to carefully familiarize yourself with the job’s responsibilities and to list relevant points on a piece of paper, such as

What skills are required for this position (hard skills)?
What are the common tasks in the daily work of the position?
What are the soft skills required for this position?
What do I know about this company and this industry?

According to these points, candidates can prepare some of their own experience to highlight their fit with these points. The choice of experience is also quite specific.

Select experiences that appear on the resume.

For example, internships, club activities, etc., the interviewer can and the resume at hand can mirror each other and more vividly reflect the content of the resume.
In addition, as a last resort, it is not recommended to use experience outside of professional scenarios. For example: coordination skills – organizing a family dinner; observation skills – finding out from small details that your father is sick; creative skills – helping a friend chase a girl. We have seen all these answers in the interviews in the past two years. Although these stories also reflect the elements that need to be examined to some extent, they are obviously less appropriate for more specialized industries (e.g. finance, consulting).
Prepare rich material: In order to prepare material more effectively, it is generally recommended to use a “many-to-many” strategy when preparing material – prioritize one story that reflects multiple attributes and prepare multiple stories for the same attribute.

Try to choose the more complex items as the underlying material, because it is possible to present different attributes through different perspectives, thus streamlining the number of stories to be prepared.

But at the same time, there is another “lucky” situation: what if all three questions in the interview require the same story? Of course, it is possible to tell a story three times, but it will inevitably affect the perception and make the interviewer think that you have only one experience to show. In addition, we have also encountered situations that do not follow the usual rules: for example, “please give two examples” has also appeared in the interview question pool.

Therefore, the “many-to-many” preparation strategy is the most cost-effective and practical.

How about we take some of the questions we saw this year and analyze them.

Topic: Discuss an industry or company you are concerned about and explain why.

What we would like to see: research and have some understanding of the company or industry; understand how this company is different compared to other companies; and understand its products or services.
Common preparation ideas: Choose one of the projects you have worked on in your internship and pick one or more of the companies/industries to prepare for. Learn the latest company news and point out what makes the company unique in the industry.

Note: Many interviewees will say “the company I am most concerned about is your company/industry”. The benefit is that it is easier to prepare, but the downside is that the stakes are higher – this is “right in the middle”. The interviewer who scores the video is theoretically most knowledgeable about the company he or she works for. It is easier to get a high score for such an answer, but also more likely to get a low score in case of a discrepancy.

Topic: Describe an experience in which you analyzed multiple pieces of information to make a decision.

We want to see: steps to understand, process, and integrate information; demonstrate a structured approach to data analysis; logical analysis of the deeper causes of the problem; and the use of tools and techniques for analysis.

Common preparation ideas: find a complex project in an internship or club activity and use the ‘STAR’ template – Scenario, Task, Action, Result – to organize the whole experience.

Note: You need to highlight what data you have in hand, how to get this information, how to analyze it, and finally what role the analysis of this information played in the decision.

Environment Preparation
Since it is a video interview and there are only one to two opportunities, choosing a suitable environment will be more beneficial for the candidate’s own performance as well as the interviewer’s judgment.

Many interviewees may struggle with venue and context, but for myself and my colleagues, this is not as important. In fact, candidates have a wide variety of options. This year alone, I have seen interview venues including: dormitories, libraries, hotel rooms, hotel lobbies …… but the point is that the interview setting needs to be quiet and undisturbed.

A quiet environment is good for candidates to organize their thoughts and play on their own, and it also ensures the quality of the video recording and that the interviewer can clearly hear the important information in the answers.

Equipment preparation
Nowadays, video interviews do not have too many requirements for equipment: with a camera, microphone, and the ability to connect to the network stably. But if you want to have a better view, why not pay attention to the following points.

Use wireless headphones: Although laptops or cell phones themselves have a radio function, an external headset can ensure that no echoes are heard during recording and that answers are better recorded. Using wireless headphones can avoid the noise that may be generated by touching the headphone connection cable.
Have paper, pen, and calculator ready: you can record key words as you prepare and organize your thoughts.

Things to do in an interview
Act naturally
During the past two years of participating in video interviews, we have found that many candidates’ verbal expressions are on the two extremes – some are very nervous and act a bit stilted, while others are too relaxed and even a bit less serious.

During the interview process, it is good to imagine the camera as a real person who is having a face-to-face conversation with him/her. Don’t sit upright in front of the camera either; you can make yourself more natural by using some body language (e.g. hand gestures) as appropriate.

Another area to watch is the eyes. Although video interviews provide candidates with the opportunity to think and write notes, and the system does not prohibit them from bringing their own “cheat sheets,” we still want to see candidates telling their stories off the record, just as they would in a live interview. Some candidates are too nervous and stare at their cheat sheets from beginning to end, which naturally gives them a lot of discount.

There are also some candidates who, with their own cleverness, prepare their answers verbatim on their computers and then read them aloud verbatim in front of the screen. At first glance it sounds very fluent, but those of us with experience will also find some problems.

Too much fluency, even a sense of memorization, without the rhythm of your own ideas flowing naturally.
A white glow on the face, or a large blank space on the lens (supposedly a Word program).
The eyes move regularly from left to right, and even the whole head swings from left to right.
When this happens, we usually write in the note next to it: Reading.

We do not exclude advance preparation, but please make sure the performance is in place.

Review the questions carefully and improvise
Although you have prepared a lot of material before, it is inevitable that you will encounter topics that you have not prepared for in the real world. This is where you need to improvise and use the same flexibility you used to write essays in your middle school language classes. If you have prepared according to the process described above, one material in your library can often correspond to several points: for example, teamwork often appears alongside communication skills, and an understanding of a news item can be converted into an understanding of an industry ……

If you do come across material that you can apply, you can’t be happy too soon. As stated at the beginning of the article, the company is more of a “stepping stone score” when it comes to scoring. So when organizing your language and formalizing your answers, you should be conscious of the point – or at least not off-topic.

For example, one question this year was, “What is one industry you care about? Why do you think it deserves attention?” A number of students spent a lot of time introducing their knowledge of the industry: recent developments, news, what are the latest deals, etc., but neglected the second half of the question and failed to point out their reasons for following it. This type of answer is very unfortunate, in fact, we all know that the underlying material is similar, but it just lacks something like “I am very concerned about this field because I think it has a lot of room for development recently and in the future. For example: ……” is a statement that brings the material back on the right track in a reasonable way. None of them ended up with the highest ratings because they didn’t quite get to the point.

Such statements also act as certain ‘signposts’ that can give more structure to one’s answers and help the interviewer find the information he or she needs more easily. It also makes our lives a lot easier if we see videos with clear signposts – after all, we may have to focus on hundreds of videos over the course of a few days.

Although video interviewing is a new thing that has become popular in the past two years, it is still a demonstration of your past experience and is not much different from a live interview in terms of content. As long as you understand and prepare in a targeted manner, you can achieve good results.

In this challenging cold night of recruitment, let’s get warm and welcome the spring and dawn.