one-way video interview

One-Way Video Interviews: Pros, Cons, and How to Prepare

Although video chats and phone calls are still the preferred methods of interviews for remote jobs, many companies are turning to one-way video interviews as a way to level the playing field. Through these interviews, job candidates respond to the same set of questions, effectively making the interview process more objective. Yet not all workers are accustomed to this type of job screening. Whether you’re preparing for a one-way video interview or you’re an employer looking to implement them, here are some tips on how to master the one-way video process.

What Are One-Way Video Interviews?

Also known as an asynchronous interview, a one-way video interview is a type of interview where only the job candidate is present. Using some type of software, the employer lists questions in video or text format, then allows the interviewee to respond in an allotted time frame. Typically, the employer provides a deadline to take the interview, giving the jobseeker an opportunity to prep for questions that may be part of the interview process. In most instances, this is a minimum of two days, but other companies may give applicants up to one week to complete the interview. In this regard, the variance of deadlines is usually based upon the hiring urgency of the employer.

Pros of One-Way Video Interviews

At least at the initial interview, many companies have decided to use one-way video interviews. If you’re a hiring manager who finds your current interview process too time-consuming or inefficient, here are some benefits of one-way video interviews.

Objective and Efficient Comparison of Candidates

Applicant tracking systems have become the norm in many companies, weeding out poor candidates before the interview process. However, some borderline candidates may remain. One-way video interviews address this problematic situation by learning valuable information about each jobseeker. For instance, if you’re hiring an interpreter or translator, you can test their foreign language skills beforehand. Another example is seeing if a salesperson is friendly and personable, while also analyzing their delivery—which may be a great indicator of their salesmanship.

Another advantage of one-way video interviews is that they can make interviews more objective. Rather than basing a hire on their ability to small-talk or chat about non-work-related matters, the interview gets straight to the point. In addition, all candidates answer the same questions. Many companies also give the candidates the basic idea of the questions involved, also allowing the hiring manager to see if they took the time to prepare.

Remove Stress and Anxiety from the Interview Process

Interviews are stressful. Even for the most seasoned candidates, interviews can evoke thoughts of anxiety and nervousness. One-way videos aim to curb this. Because jobseekers don’t have to face the interviewer, they can hit the relax button—especially if hiring managers furnish them with potential interview questions. Unfortunately, some one-way video interviews only allow two or three takes per question, adding to the stress of the interview. Therefore, employers should consider unlimited takes to set the interviewee at ease.

Streamline the Interview-to-Hiring Process

While naysayers of one-way video interviews proclaim that the practice doesn’t speed up the hiring process, others may disagree. Instead of making 50 phone calls or setting up 50 video interviews, hiring managers can simply set up one set of interview questions. Then, they can review the footage of the interview to make their decision. This frees up time for hiring managers to complete other tasks without the hassles of scheduling or objectively attempting to size-up candidates during an interview.

Expand the Talent Pool

With the rapid expansion and use of video-conferencing and remote work, hiring from a geographically independent talent pool has become the norm. However, one-way video interviews take the idea of an expansive talent pool to the next level. Because one-way video interviews are the responsibility of the candidate, time zones and schedules are no longer a concern. As a result, neither candidate nor hiring manager has to interview during odd hours. Thus, remote workers from around the world can be included as candidates rather than just local talent.

Cons of One-Way Video Interviews

Despite the rising popularity of one-way video interviews, the process still has many subjective cons. Therefore, the hiring manager or company should investigate the downsides before implementing one-way video interviews as a standard process.

Turning Down Top Talent

Perhaps the biggest problem with one-way video interviews is that they can offend some of the top candidates. Remote workers and other job candidates may feel that if you lack the time to talk to them, they shouldn’t put forth the effort to respond to a one-way video interview. Beyond this, talking into a microphone instead of a person may also turn off other candidates. In this regard, employers are taking a calculated risk of losing some of the top talent available for the job position.

Potential Technical Problems

While some remote workers have a dedicated office and the ideal computer hardware, other candidates—specifically those new to telecommuting—may not have the correct setup to take a virtual interview. As a result, hiring managers could inadvertently judge a candidate based on the sound quality of the interview or the method of taking the interview (phone vs. laptop vs. desktop). Plus, internet outages could further derail the process. While technical problems of this nature aren’t commonplace, they could ostracize or eliminate qualified applicants.

Lack of Human Connection

When hiring managers interview, they aren’t just searching for the perceived “correct answer” to questions. They’re sizing-up body language, length of responses, quickness of responses, and other factors. In a one-way video interview, these individuals don’t get the opportunity. Job candidates aren’t just a resume or cover letter. They’re a person with other skills that could fit perfectly into the job role a company creates. Therefore, basing candidacy entirely on 60-second responses to questions without actually talking to the person may prove detrimental.

No Q&A

Nearly every live, video, or phone interview ends with an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions about the company and the position. Without this Q&A session, interviewers are missing out on yet another method to analyze and assess a worker’s perceived value.

How to Prepare for a One-Way Video Interview

So you’ve applied for a job, made the interview round, and now it’s time for your one-way video interview. How do you prepare? Using these tips, you can adequately prep for any questions you receive, as well as any curveballs thrown your way.

Have a Quiet Place to Take the One-Way Video Interview

Just like any other type of interview, you’ll want a quiet spot to set up shop. Any room in your home with a locking door is a bonus (if you have kids, a roommate, or a spouse). In addition, you shouldn’t have any distracting decor behind you. While you may love your theatrical release poster of “Goodfellas,” this can distract the hiring manager from your interview questions, as well as add an element of unprofessionalism. You may also want to shine a light toward your face so the reviewer can see your expressions and demeanor.

Never take a one-way video interview in a crowded place or public area. Not only is the noise distracting to the reviewer, but you may also find that distractions ruin your answers.

Prepare Yourself for Standard Interview Questions and Industry-Specific Questions

In many instances, the employer won’t give you the questions ahead of time. If they do, the process is tantamount to an open-book test. You should still prepare yourself, but your answers will be much easier to find. Since most employers don’t give you the questions ahead of time, you’ll have to prepare for standard interview and industry-specific questions. For example, you might get ages-old questions such as:

  • What are your greatest weaknesses?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years?
  • How do you handle conflict?
  • What can you bring to the company?

Industry-specific questions will obviously vary by your profession. For instance, if you’re a marketer, you should prepare for questions based on content marketing or inbound marketing. If you’re an IT professional, you should brush-up on programming languages, testing software, or cybersecurity. The idea here is that you should put in your prep time so you aren’t broadsided by any questions.

Write Out Your Answers and Practice

Whether or not you get the questions to the one-way video interview, you should always write your answers down. Then, practice, practice, and practice some more. You won’t want these answers written out in full format in front of you, as you may come off a bit too mechanical or unprepared. Instead, take your full-length answers and recite them. Then, take keywords from these answers and write them down on index cards. After an hour or so of practice, these should read naturally instead of like a recitation.

Dress Just Like a Normal In-Person Interview

Although you won’t have someone with eyes on you immediately, rest-assured that someone will see your responses. Because of this, you’ll want to dress the part. (And yes, that even means pants.) Not only will you appear more professional, but you’ll exude confidence in every word that flows from your responses.

Look at the Camera Like You Would an Interviewer

Making eye contact with a person you’re speaking with isn’t all that difficult. But when you’re staring into the eye of a camera, you might find that you’re subconsciously camera-shy. Although camera-shyness isn’t a necessarily a deal-breaker for the position, you may come off as unsure or wavering in your answers. So make sure to practice eye contact to boot. If you’re struggling, record your answers to see how you do. Then, make the necessary adjustments.

Keep an Eye on the Clock

Most one-way video interviews only give you 60 or 90 seconds to answer the question. As such, you shouldn’t deliver long-winded answers. Instead, focus on the clock in your practice and during the interview. Give succinct, to-the-point answers, and you’ll look like a much stronger candidate, even if you’re introverted or camera-shy.

One-way interviews certainly have their advantages and disadvantages for employers. And while candidates may prefer more traditional interviewing methods, the one-way video appears poised to stick around. But by prepping for the interview and delivering well-thought-out answers, you can reach your overarching goal: a great job.


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