COVID-19 has thrown many people’s careers and recruiting cycles into the digital space. While the one-way video interview was already starting to gain traction among large firms before the pandemic hit, now this method of interviewing is more common than ever — whether we like it or not.
The Sun sat down with four students who have landed internships that used the one-way video in their application processes — Cayla Yellen ’21, Meshach Boyce ’21, Lauren Jung ’21 and Jordine Williams ’22 — and asked for their tips on how to sell your professional self through a computer screen.
Below are the excerpts from the interviews, lightly edited for clarity.
How many one-way video interviews have you done? For which companies? For which ones were you successful? For which ones were you not?
Yellen: I have done a number of one-way video interviews via the program Hirevue. The one-way video interviews I have conducted were for investment banks across Wall Street. I have found myself most successful with Hirevues for investment banking and various diversity programs interviews.
Boyce: I have done four one-way interviews; two for Bank of America and two for Morgan Stanley. I was successful in both Bank of America interviews and one for Morgan Stanley.
Jung: This past school year I completed two one-way video interviews — Unilever and Kraft Hienz. I was invited for further interviewing for both of them.
Williams: I’ve done a couple for major companies like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan — maybe around ten overall. I did two pre-recorded interviews for Freddie Mac and got the offer. I didn’t make it past the Hirevue for the other ones.
What are the qualities that you think the companies are looking for in these interviews? How do you advance to the next round?
Yellen: Especially for younger students, I wouldn’t say that companies in the financial sector are necessarily searching for students who have had previous prestigious experiences. Rather, they are looking for students who show genuine interest in the sector as well as the specific company itself. Having a resume that demonstrates your interests and ambition to learn the sector (such as joining finance or business organizations on campus) can be beneficial.
However, if you are not a part of such organizations, having a strong “walk me through your resume” response is essential. This response will give interviewers an idea of how it is that you ended up in this interview as you will be giving them a run down of your interests and the actions you have taken that have led you to Cornell and ultimately, interviewing for a finance or business internship.
Boyce: I think what companies look for the most are professionalism, high energy, and the ability to articulate your ideas coherently. Although the one-way video interviews are not in a professional environment, you should wear business professional attire and have a non-distracting background to demonstrate that you are taking the interview seriously.
Jung: I believe that they are looking for whether or not you would be a good fit for the company’s working environment. This is the best opportunity for you to illustrate that you want to be there and that you know what you are getting yourself into. They are looking for confidence and organization in the interviews.
Williams: I think they’re screening for interest. Also, if you have basic knowledge of the company that you’re applying for. They will also ask you about handling conflict or your greatest achievement or things like that.
One-way video interviews — much like interviews in general — can be awkward or nerve wracking. What are your tips with getting comfortable during a one-way video interview?
Yellen: Before any type of interview it is always beneficial to have peers mock-interview you. This will help you master using experiences on your resume to provide in depth examples of how you have exemplified or acquired a particular skill. Becoming comfortable with your resume and subsequent stories and examples will make it easier to communicate with an interviewer or respond to questions in a one-way interview setting. Additionally, most one-way video interviews allow for multiple attempts for each question, which is something that interviewees should definitely take advantage of.
Boyce: One-way video interviews are an understandably unnatural experience. However, I got comfortable with them through practice. Most questions generally gauge why you are interested in the industry, company, or position, your ability to discuss situational experiences, and possibly a technical question depending on the industry and company. Therefore, I would record myself while practicing interview questions and watch the videos to determine what projection level, facial expressions, gestures, etc. were the most conversational.
Jung: Do everything that you do to prepare for a traditional interview. Do your research, look up questions that are likely to be asked and have a list of go to answers in the back of your head. I recommend getting familiar with the program itself and talking in front of a camera. And don’t forget to ask your peers and mentors for advice!
Williams: A lot of them ask similar questions like the most fluffy, basic interview questions. They don’t really go that in-depth for Hirevues and there aren’t any technical questions. I try to write stuff down beforehand or after they ask the question and there’s a few seconds countdown. I might jot some stuff down that helps me remember when I’m recording the response.
What is the best way for you to get your personality across a screen?
Yellen: Because these questions tend to be more behavioral, it is important to personalize your responses such as utilizing your previous experiences on your resume to demonstrate how you have mastered or exemplified a skill. Additionally the “Why xxx company question” is a great way to show the interviewer that you are genuine and have a real interest in an internship.
Boyce: Your personality comes across through your energy. Feel free to smile, make natural gestures, and inflect your voice!
Jung: I actually prefer these one ways over phone interviews because the interviewers can see you and your expressions. You can also express your personality by incorporating a personal anecdote and perspectives in your answers.
Williams: One tip would be to really emphasize something that’s unique about you. For the Freddie Mac interview, I talked about how I self-studied Korean. That’s probably something that’s pretty unique and also showed my own initiative. If there’s something about you that you think maybe a lot of people haven’t done or it really shows how you’re unique then that helps you stand out.
Many students may find the case study portions of one-way interviews difficult, do you have any advice for preparing for the cases?
Yellen: Every sector inevitably has different formats for their interviews. Consulting companies tend to do behavioral interviews as well as case studies to understand your critical thinking skills and get insight as to how you may perform as an intern. The best way to prepare for sector specific interviews is to do some general research online and conduct practice cases on your own.
From there, I would reach out to peers on campus who have landed internships in this space to not only receive tips on how to interview, but also gauge specifics about the culture of a particular company. Additionally, some consulting companies come on campus and actually detail out what they look for during the casing and provide tips so attending information sessions is always a plus.
Annabel Li ‘22 and Maia Lee ‘21 contributed reporting to this article.