Preparing for Your Video Interview

Get ready for the camera: the days of flying out to a prospective campus to meet with an admission counselor are gone! Today, students and schools have access to tech and software that makes the admissions process more accessible. Molly McCracken, the admissions editor at Kira Talent, is one of the company’s many experts on video interviews. Kira offers holistic admissions solutions to colleges and universities, so they can get a more complete view of their applicants beyond grades and test scores. We spoke with Molly to get some advice for those who are getting ready for their interviews. (EHC): In your opinion, why are video interviews becoming more popular?
Molly McCracken (MC): As you know, there is so much more to succeeding in school than a students’ ability to take tests. Naturally, the admissions process is changing to accommodate that. Schools want to find the students who really want to be there, the ones who have the work ethic and drive to succeed. You can’t necessarily get that level of insight from a grade. Video interviews serve as an extra layer to get to see and hear from students in order to evaluate things like fit, communication skills and motivation.

EHC: Do you believe there is more that you can learn about a candidate over video than you could in person?
MC: Whether a candidate is evaluated in person or through video, the school is getting way more insight than a paper application can provide.

A timed video assessment has the added benefit of being on-demand for both the interviewer and interviewee. Students can take time to practice, feel comfortable and complete the responses on their schedule. Likewise, admissions reviewers can review on their own time, pause, replay and come back to the video or invite their colleagues for a second opinion.

The recorded video reduces the potential for many of the subconscious biases that could impact an applicant’s success in an in-person interview, such as the interviewer being stressed, tired or distracted at the time of the live interview.

EHC: What are the common mistakes interviewees make on video?
MC: Great question! Here are a few of the most common mistakes we’ve heard from admissions teams. Applicants will:

  • End up talking around a situation and not answering the specific question the interviewer asked.
  • Sound over-prepared, i.e., clearly reading a pre-written answer off their screen.
  • Try to say too much and rush through the end of their response.
  • minimize the importance of planning ahead, i.e. having their parent walk in and start talking to them mid-question!

In addition to avoiding the issues I just mentioned, be sure to give yourself lots of time to practice for your video interview. Take a breath. Video interviews and video assessments aren’t intended to stump you, they’re intended to give you a chance to shine.

EHC: What do you recommend for students who get nervous about having to use tech for an interview?
MC: This experience can be totally nerve-wracking the first time, so make sure you have all of your technology set up in advance and practice a few times.

If you’re using a laptop, make sure it’s plugged into power and connected to the internet. Reduce distractions: update all of your software, put your phone on silent and tell anyone in your household not to interrupt you. Put a sign on the door if you have to. Have a glass of water handy.  

You can practice on your own by recording questions with your webcam and watching them back. If your school is a client of Kira Talent, there is a free series of practice questions before you start. We also offer Kira Prep, which allows you to go through some practice questions for free and upgrade to acquire additional questions.

EHC: Tell me about Kira Prep — how can students use this tool?
MC: Kira Prep is a version of the Kira platform that isn’t associated with any schools, so students can go and take some practice questions to help prepare for any upcoming assessments or interviews. Applicants get a series of questions similar to the type of questions a school would ask and can self-evaluate their responses. It’s useful for anyone with any interviews in the admissions process, whether they’re in-person, by phone or Skype or timed video assessments.

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