This week I was kindly invited to speak at the University of Bedfordshire, discussing and sharing ideas with Masters Students on the Business Management course, on the subject of video CVs and video interview techniques.
Now, for luddites like me, the idea of sending in a 5 minute video application for a job instead of a CV is somewhat daunting. I don’t like how I look on camera (it always adds a number of chins I’d swear to God I don’t have) and I’m sure it would be difficult to condense my working life and achievements into 3-5 minutes of concise and clear information.
But a number of organisations are asking for a video application or first-stage video interview as a way of finding the top quality applicants. There are a number of pros and cons to the process, but below I’ve outlined some tips which we covered that will help you separate your application from the rest:
Try to get some of your personality across in the video interview/CV whilst remaining professional. It is important to take into account the hiring company, but if you feel comfortable with humour, why not try to inject some of that into the film? While it can be a risk, if I were the hiring manager, it would surely stand out against a number of other clips of applicants mundanely listing their skill set in a dimly lit room
I would advise to remain professional at all times, but bringing some personality to the process will show what kind of colleague you are likely to be, and whether you’d be a good fit for the team you’re applying to.
Remember: The video application will not get you a job at this stage; it is a means to meet with the management face to face. You could certainly lose a job at this stage however with a bland and run of the mill application.
Focus upon what you can offer
Your CV tends to focus upon what you have done previously, as opposed to what you are able to offer potential employers. A video CV or video interview should be more heavily focused upon what you are able to offer potential employers, and what kind of colleague you will be.
If you have any specific IT systems skills, make sure that they are outlined in the video interview, without going into such technical information that the pace and tone of the film becomes sluggish. If you happen to be talented enough to speak more than one language (and it is relevant to the role), why not outline this with a ten or fifteen seconds in fluent French/Spanish/Italian etc, in order to prove your point.
Remember: The likelihood is that if you are applying for a role you’re qualified for, then most of the other applications will have a similar background to you. If you’ve completed a dissertation, then some have most of the other applicants. What have you taken away from the process which will make you stand out from the crowd?
Test drive the technology and prepare thoroughly
Sod’s Law dictates that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong, at the exact point you need it to work. If you’re using Skype for a video interview for example, make sure that you have a strong WiFi/internet connection – don’t rely on a 4G network. Ensure that the lighting is correct – if you’re sat in the dark and the hiring manager can’t see your face, then it will put you at a disadvantage to other applications which are clear.
While this is a less formal process, make sure you prepare for the role as thoroughly as you would if you were meeting face to face. Focus upon the key areas of a job description and person specification, and make sure that they are mentioned during the video (ie. if the role requires a Level 5 CIPD qualification, explain that you have that qualification, and two or three things which you have learned about yourself during the studying process which will stand you out from the crowd).
Remember: This is your chance to sell yourself. Match yourself to the hiring company where you can, and give yourself the best opportunity of securing this position from the outset. You may decide that the role isn’t for you, but I’d certainly rather have an offer on the table and turn it down, than have no offers at all.
More and more employers are using this approach as a means of screen first stage applications, so you will likely come across this process soon when applying to companies.
It is different, and it can be daunting, but remember – all of the other applicants are doing the same thing – so let’s try to stand out from the crowd.
Finally, I’d like to thank the University of Bedfordshire for the opportunity to discuss this subject with them, I certainly learned a lot about the process, and I wish them all the very best of luck with their dissertations.
Andrew Joy, Venn Group