How to prepare for a one way interview

Advice and tips on how to prepare for a one way interview

Welcome to your interview. It may not be quite what you were expecting!

It’s a Video Interview. Also known as On-Demand Interview, One-Way Interview, Prerecorded or Asynchronous Interview. A highly efficient and cost effective way for employers to make selection decisions. Sometimes they are even known by the interview software providers – eg a HireVue interview = a one-way recorded interview

What is it?
You are interviewed on your computer or mobile device via a series of questions appearing on your screen. Sometimes they are delivered by a friendly looking robot or by a person talking on a pre-recorded video. They can also be just posted on the screen one after another. This is not Zoom  – there isn’t a “real” person on your screen giving you encouraging nods as you go through your answers. Just a screen, showing your face, talking to the camera.

Who uses it?
Introduced approximately 8 years ago and initially mainly used by graduate recruiters looking to fill large amounts of positions within a short timescale. It is now being used for more senior roles and is becoming a fairly standard part of the overall assessment and hiring process for larger companies. So get ready.

How does it work?
You receive an email from the employer informing you that you are invited to an interview. So far, so normal. The email contains a link which will bring you to an interview site. The deadline for completing the interview is included – employers usually give candidates 3-4 days to complete the interview.

The site will contain a  candidate briefing section giving advice on how to deliver your best performance at this type of interview. You may be thinking “yeah, yeah I’ve done loads of interviews, I know the score”. STOP! You HAVE to read the instructions. You need to be 100% certain of what is happening once the record button starts. The employer will set out the structure of the interview in the candidate briefing and will tell you:

  • How many questions will be asked (average is approximately 6)
  • How long you will be given to answer each one (usually between 1 ½ to 2 ½ minutes per answer – no time for preamble or waffle – you will be cut off mid sentence! There will be a countdown timer on the screen to keep you on track)
  • Possibilities to review your answers and retake each question if you are not happy with your answer – not usually offered

You will be asked to run through some online checks to ascertain if the camera and sound on your laptop/desktop computer or phone are working ok. Most employers will give you one test question so you can try out the technology and see how you look and sound on camera. This answer can be recorded and replayed by you and does not form part of the interview. It won’t be viewed by the employer. Then you click “Start Interview” and it will be over before you know it.

How to prepare for a one way interview

Preparation for a pre=recorded video interview should be the same as for a face-to-face interview with a few additions.

How do you look and sound? Practise

If the first time you practise video recording yourself answering interview questions is for the employer’s test question you are probably not going to do a good interview. Once you know you have a video interview coming up set up your laptop or phone and record yourself answering commonly asked interview questions. You need to experience what it is like to be against the clock and looking at yourself talking on a screen. The first few attempts are usually pretty woeful – get them out of the way early enough and move on. You can also Zoom a friend and ask them to “interview’ you. Give them a list of questions to ask you or ask them to make up their own. Record the interview and play it back.

Lights, Camera…….

Once you’re happy with the background get the light and camera position right. The webcam should be at your eye level to help you maintain as much eye contact as possible. Prop up your phone or laptop (securely!) to make sure it is. Do not light yourself from overhead or below. Also don’t sit with your back to a window or light source. Get a lamp, put it in front of you or to one side and have the bulb slightly above eye level. Play around with the lamp until you are happy with what you can see onscreen. There is nothing more off putting than watching a video interview of someone sitting in practical darkness or with lots of shadows around their face.


It can be difficult to remember to smile in a face-to-face interview – even when the interviewer is smiling at you all the time. It is MUCH more difficult to remember to smile in a video interview when all you can see is you smiling at yourself! You need to convey your personality in the interview in addition to your knowledge of the role and your suitability so include some smiling practise in your preparation !

If you are wondering  about how to do a great interview see our Interview Training where we ensure you maximise your chances of securing the job.

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