Asynchronous video interviews
These are interviews using an online video interface where you’re responding to questions stored in a system. Your answers are recorded for the employer to review at a later date. There is usually a time limit for preparation or thinking time (say, 30 seconds), and then a time limit for your answer (for example, 2 minutes). Typically, you only have one attempt to answer each question. You’ll usually be invited to take your video interview by logging into an online system at a time that suits you before certain deadline. You might not have a lot of notice that you need to take a video interview.
- Check your email daily for invitations to take a video interview.
- Don’t leave it to the last minute in case you end up missing the window to submit your answers.
- Get familiar with the set up before you do the real thing – how long is the time to answer? Can you re-record an answer? Are there practice questions to try out?
- Don’t read from a prepared script: you won’t sound as genuine and will be less able to adapt to the wording of the question.
- If there’s not a practice feature on the system, you can create a practice by recording yourself answering typical interview questions using a webcam or your phone and a timer.
- Review your practice answers to help you improve:
- Are you looking at the audience? If not, try looking into the camera.
- Do you look enthusiastic? Smiling helps, as does positive body language (uncrossed arms, no fidgeting).
- Are you answering the question? Listen carefully to what’s being asked.
- If you’ve got lots of time left over, what are there more details you could add?
- If you ran out of time, consider starting with a summary of your key points, and then you can expand further on the most relevant in the time left.
- Give a professional visual impression by setting up your computer and webcam so that the background behind you is plain, and ensuring you have adequate lighting on your face, ideally sunlight from a nearby window.
- Ensure that you are using a reliable internet connection and your device has enough power (plug it in to a power source if you can). Make sure there will be no interruptions – put a sign on your door, turn off notifications and put your phone on silent. Talk to the Careers team if you’re encountering practical obstacles to taking your video interview - we may have a room free you can book.
Face to face interviews
Face to face interviews range from relatively informal interviews in a conversational style with one person, to a traditional interview featuring a number of people on a ‘panel’ asking prepared questions. Where you need to travel a significant distance to take an in-person interview, the employer may offer to pay your travel and expenses, or it might be possible to take the interview via MS Teams (or equivalent) instead.
- Plan your travel – allow plenty of time for traffic or public transport disruptions.
- Make sure you listen to and make eye contact with the person who is speaking. In your reply address your answer to the person who asked the question, but also make eye contact with the other people present who are listening.
- Remember to smile – you instantly look more motivated and enthusiastic about the job!
- Feel free to take notes in with you, if it makes you feel more confident, but try not to use them. If you worry about forgetting things you want to say, try noting down few key bullet points that you can quickly glance at if needed.
Often a telephone interview is a shorter, ‘screening’ interview to conduct an initial check that you have the potential to be a good fit for the role. It’s common for telephone interviews to be quite systematic in checking the competencies the recruiter is looking for. Usually you’ll be emailed a time and date for a telephone interview, but it’s possible to have a telephone interview with very little warning.
- If you typically ignore calls from unknown numbers, suspend your policy while you’re job-hunting! Some big company switchboards mean that calls from recruiters may not show up with caller ID.
- Make sure you check your email daily for details of short notice telephone interviews.
- Take it just as seriously as a face-to-face interview– ensure you have a quiet place to talk with no interruptions, be prepared before the call, even dress the part if it makes you feel more ‘professional’.
- Don’t read from a prepared script: you won’t sound as genuine and will be less able to adapt to the wording of the question and any follow up questions.
- Make a note of the interviewer’s name.
- Listen for auditory clues – if the interviewer has stopped making ‘mmm, yes, ah, okay’ noises, they may not be paying attention. Check if they’re still there, if they’d like you to say more or if you’ve interpreted the question right.
- Give auditory clues – if you’re thinking, you need to tell them ‘I’m just taking a moment to think about that’ (otherwise you’ve just gone silent!)
Portfolio interviews are sometimes found in creative fields such as art, design, animation, journalism or performance. Depending on the role, you might need to provide a hard-copy portfolio, online portfolio or showreel, which will form the basis of discussion.
- Consider how you decided on the examples in your portfolio; what do they say about your work?
- Revisit the process used in the work you’ve selected: what were the influences, inspiration, methods?
- What does your portfolio mean for your future – is there a key aspect you want to focus on more, or are you keen to increase the breadth? Who are the role models that might influence your next steps?
Postgraduate study interviews
Interviews are not always required for entry to a postgraduate course, but where they are used, they assess your suitability for the course. They therefore typically focus on your academic aptitude and your motivation for both the course and the institution.
- Are they a good university? What evidence is there of that? What aspects of the course are you most looking forward to?
- Gather evidence in support of your motivation more generally: where does your motivation come from? Does it link with career plans? Academic ambitions? Personal history? Role models?
- Consider your ‘story’– how does your previous study/experience relate to what you want to study now? Have you made choices towards this area before? What was your dissertation or final year project? What lessons have you learnt in your academic career so far?
- Think about your strengths as a student/researcher: if you’ve encountered challenges and setbacks in the past, what have you learnt and improved on as a result?
- Research the funding options: have a plan for how you might fund the opportunity (and if that plan isn’t guaranteed, a back-up plan).