How to Prepare for a ‘One-Way’ Video Interview in English – Peter Smith

With increasing numbers of candidates chasing[1] fewer and fewer jobs, many companies are using video-based assessment as part of the interview process. These are sometimes called ‘one-way interviews’ as you record answers to interview questions at home. For companies there are many benefits:

  • It saves time as it is easier to coordinate since candidates record their interview at home in their own time
  • It shows how candidates come across[2] on screen at a time where more and more people are working remotely
  • It is seen as fair, since all candidates get the same questions and have the same opportunity to display their skills
  • It allows employers to see the personality of the candidate and how they communicate
  • It is easier to compare candidates by reviewing the video recordings

Recently, a friend of mine had to do a video-based interview as part of a job application. In her case, it consisted of answering five interview questions ‘live’ on an online platform.

When each question appeared on her computer, she was given 30 seconds to think before the platform started recording her answer for which she had up to three minutes depending on the question.

It was very stressful because firstly, she wasn’t given the questions beforehand, secondly, she had to record her answers directly in front of the computer with only one opportunity to get it right and finally, it was in English – not her native language!

So, if you are faced with having to do a video-based ‘one-way’ interview here are some tips.

  1. Be Prepared!

Firstly, you should prepare in the same way as any other interview by researching the company thoroughly, understanding the skills the position requires, and practising – a lot!

Be prepared to answer questions about your experience, skills and personal qualities and how they relate to the position being offered.

Don’t simply repeat every line of your CV. Before the interview starts, identify three key skills that the job requires and be ready to explain, using real examples, how you have successfully demonstrated those skills in the past.

I always suggest using the ‘rule of three’ because it gives you a clear structure and you can signal that you have finished by letting your intonation fall at the end of the third item.

Not knowing when or how to finish what you are saying can lead to hesitation[3] and make you sound less confident. Use ‘Firstly’, ‘Secondly’ and ‘Finally/Also’ to sequence your ideas and impress the employer.

You will also probably be asked why you want to work for this company in this role.

Although it might seem that this question is about the company in fact you should use this question to showcase[4] your own skills and abilities, for example:

I’m excited about the position because I feel my skills are suited to it … (then talk about relevant skills that you have backed up[5] by examples of how you have used them successfully)


I believe I would fit in[6] here because I am… (and then talk about relevant personality traits[7] that you have)

Obviously, you will need to do some research on the company and its culture!

Go to its website and look for words that frequently appear in its publicity. A company’s website shows the way a company ‘sells’ itself positively to the public.

If you see words like ‘green, ‘responsible’ or ‘ethical’ you will see one focus, if you see words like ‘impact’, ‘productive’ or ‘leader’ you will notice a different focus.

You can even subtly[8] incorporate these key words into your answers:

I was really satisfied with the impact I made on X when I did Y in my last position.

Here are some other questions you should practice answering

  • Tell me a little about yourself
  • What are your main responsibilities in your current job?
  • What are your strengths?
  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What is your experience of using… (a key tool for the position)?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Why should we employ you?

Remember you should always steer[9] your answer back to these things:

  • The skills you have that fit the job perfectly
  • The personal qualities you have that fit with the company’s culture
  • Evidence of success in your current/previous job that could be repeated in this one
  1. Non-verbal Communication

You should also be aware that you are not only being assessed on what you say but the way you say it.

Practise looking at the camera when you are speaking and don’t forget to smile! If you are not used to looking at the camera and tend to look at the screen, try sticking  two post-it notes either side of the camera – but not on top of it!

Practise emphasising key words. A great way to do this is to type up some sentences that you want to include and put the key words in bold. For example:

In my last job, I was responsible for managing thirty teachers, training all the new teachers and supporting them throughout the school year. I gave a wide range of workshops and it was extremelysatisfying hearing the positive feedback from the teachers and the Director.

Finally, don’t rush. This will make you sound as nervous as you probably are!

Go slowly, adding examples by using expressions such as ‘also’, ‘another’ and ‘as well as this’. Say these words s-l-o-w-l-y and remember to breathe!

Going slowly doesn’t mean being a robot or reading a script – you can still put energy and enthusiasm into your words. And don’t worry about getting everything perfect. If you make a mistake, instead of getting more stressed, turn it into an opportunity to show you have a sense of humour and keep smiling! It’s good to show you are human!

  1. Check Your Equipment and Environment

Make sure that you have tested your equipment, especially the recording levels. If you are using a computer or tablet, close all onscreen windows except for the interview platform you are using and make sure that no one will disturb you in the middle of recording.

Set up your device at eye-level and make sure you have good lighting on you face, using natural light if possible.

Choose a clean, tidy, professional looking setting. If you are not sure what to have in the background, use a blank wall. This way the focus is all on you!

Dress professionally! Even though you might be at home you can still make a good (or bad) impression by your choice of clothes. First impressions count!

  1. Practice Makes Perfect!

The biggest regret my friend had was not practising enough. You should record your answers and watch the recordings, noticing each time how you could improve what you said and the way you said it.

Do an internet search for other interview questions and practise, practise, practise!

I wish you the best in your next interview!



[1] chasing (v) – trying to get something that is difficult to get or achieve

[2] come across (phrasal verb) – to behave in a way that makes people believe that you have a particular characteristic

[3] hesitation (n) – a pause before you do something, especially because you are not sure or confident

[4] showcase (v) – to show the best qualities or parts of something

[5] backed up (phrasal verb) – provided support or help to someone or something, supported

[6] fit in (phrasal verb) – to feel comfortable with and accepted by a group of people

[7] traits (n pl) – the qualities or characteristics of a person

[8] subtly (adv) – done in a way that does not attract attention or is obvious

[9] steer (v) – to make someone or something go in the direction in which you want him, her, or it to go

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

PeterAcerca de Peter

Hi! I'm Peter and right now I am teaching students in the following: *General English*: (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing, Grammar and Vocabulary) to improve your level. *Exam Preparation*: I am an official Cambridge examiner and ..

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