The Recorded Virtual Interview: A Student’s Experiences and Advice

It’s an accomplishment these days to even get an interview for an internship. But even as it seems harder to get a chance at step one of the application process, a new type of challenge is gaining popularity: the recorded interview. As I’ve applied to a wide range of internships during my time at Denison, I’ve seen them more and more. They’re usually conducted through a site called HireVue, and they can feel quite different from a standard interview. You’re given a few questions on the HireVue portal, one at a time, and for each one you get a certain number of attempts (usually somewhere from 1-3) to answer within a set time frame (think 2-3 minutes). They’re not inherently harder or worse than a face-to-face interview, but you can give yourself a much stronger chance of success if you know one might be coming, and how to handle it.

Let’s start with what doesn’t change. First of all, you can expect a recorded virtual interview to be behavioral. For anyone who is used to interviews containing case study questions, or technical assessments, that’s not what you’re going to see in a video interview. This is due to the rigid format, where an applicant can’t ask clarification questions, and there’s no interviewer to follow up on any part of a response. As a result, questions are straightforward, and about you as a person. Questions I’ve seen have included “talk about a time you had to make an adjustment from a strategy you used that was no longer working,” and “talk about a time you had to acquire a new skill to complete a task.” You can tackle these types of questions the same way as you would for a face-to-face interview. Use the STAR response strategy (situation, task, action, result) and highlight not just your job-specific skills, but also your general ability to adapt, willingness to find answers, and dedication to professional growth. These interviews are about your value, so pick good examples before the interview for some common questions and be ready to talk about them.

There are also some unique components to recorded interviews that you can use to your benefit. First, your research on that company is much easier to do in advance, and it’s easily pullable from notes during your interview. You can expect a question along the lines of “why do you want to work for this company?” and it’s smart to be prepared for it. When you research the organization beforehand, take notes and have them next to your computer when you interview. During the period before your answer window begins, take a look at them. Maybe even circle what you want to work into your answer. You have control of your environment – use it. You might have control of more than just your environment, too. Some companies give you a few chances at each question. One important thing to remember, though, is that you won’t get to retroactively select which response you want to use. If you try again, you lose the previous response. So trust your instinct, and if you feel like you’re going to absolutely crush it on the second try, go for it. Stay relaxed, like you’re just answering someone’s question as you would in a conversation. It’s a question and response, not a speech.

Go into recorded interviews as prepared as possible. Remember, you might get a few chances, and you’ll even have a bit of time before answering questions to refer to your interview prep notes. So take good notes, do company research, come in with prepared answers for common questions, and stay calm.

By Jonah Richardson
Jonah Richardson Peer Career Fellow: Technology, Data and Science