Written by Rhiannon Williams, Global Internships Manager at UCL Careers.
Applying for roles overseas means you are inevitably going to experience a video interview, particularly for smaller firms who have no budget to fly all of their applicants over to their offices! There are two types of video interview – pre-recorded ones where you will be given a question and you record your answers and live ones where someone will be on the other end asking questions and engaging in a conversation with you. This blog is going to focus on the latter but advice about pre-recorded video interviews can be found in one of our CareersLab videos, ‘How to ace video interviews’
With the right amount of preparation, you can ace your video interview just as well as if it were in-person. What’s more, the way that you conduct yourself is a real life example of how well you can work in a global and remote working context. So how can you prepare?
Before the interview
Communicate clearly and remember that you may need to take time difference into account. Compare these responses:
- Could we arrange the interview for 3 next Monday?
- Could we arrange the interview for 15:00 (GMT) on Monday 11 September?
The second is much clearer. If you want to offer the suggestion in the interviewer’s time zone, you could write 15:00 (GMT+1) or 15:00 UK / 16:00 France. Time and Date is a good website for checking time differences.
Go the extra mile
Employers are busy, and recruitment of an overseas candidate can already be extra work. Anticipating what information, they may require from you could not only save you both time, but also demonstrates proactive thinking. For example:
Share a list of your contact details. Use your judgement as to what methods to suggest. Whatever you end up using, be aware of your public visibility and make sure what an employer can see is appropriate, from profile pictures to past status updates.
- Do let me know how you would like to conduct the interview. I have attached my details here should you need:
- Phone/WhatsApp: +441234567890 (include international dialling code!)
- Skype: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zoom: 12345678
- Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams etc
Enable international calls on your phone. If video communication breaks down, then phone can be a backup option. Ensure you have international calls enabled just in case – ask your service provider.
Show some flexibility. You’re unlikely to be asked to wake up at 3am, but there’s a chance you may have to get up a couple of hours early, use a lunch break, or speak after hours. The more flexible you can be the better (within reason), and shows that you are interested in the role.
Research from afar
It’s essential when preparing to apply for any interview that you research the company – and it’s no different for a video interview. You may be less familiar with aspects of an overseas organisation such as their perception in the local market or the location they are based. The internet is a powerful tool in this situation, and you could use resources such as:
- Glassdoor – this is useful for any candidate to learn about an organisation from it’s own employees. There is a useful feature allowing you to filter by location. However, be mindful that there are countries where Glassdoor is not commonly used, or small organisations that return limited or no information, which doesn’t necessarily mean the experience won’t be a good one.
- LinkedIn – you might wish to research the current talent they have hired. You can use LinkedIn to search the organisation’s current and past employees and get an understanding of their background, work experience, interests etc. You might also find a mutual connection somewhere! Take your findings with a pinch of salt – you don’t necessarily have to ‘fit the same mould’.
- Alumni – use the UCL Alumni Online Community to connect with alumni overseas to get tips about interviewing in their home country.
- Your prospective organisation’s website – naturally, many organisations have some form of online presence, from LinkedIn to their own domain. Explore this thoroughly to get an understanding of their business, culture, and values.
During the interview
Any job interview can be stressful, let alone one that is both via video and with an overseas employer. Be aware of potential challenges such as:
- Language miscommunications. The language of the interview will likely be the same as that of the job description (although do check if you’re unsure!) and this could potentially be the interviewer’s second (or third) language. This may not be a challenge and you might not even realise. However, if you are faced with a situation where miscommunication occurs, don’t worry! Just be honest and ask for clarification where needed – you could ask the interviewer to repeat the question, or repeat the question back to them first to check your understanding.
- Technical issues. Despite advances in tech, issues can still occur. It’s up to you to make a judgement about what you can live with and what is going to have an impact on your performance. Sometimes the best option is to acknowledge an issue when it occurs, and say you’ll let the interview know if it affects your ability to perform. Do not wait until the end to raise a significant technical issue – it may look like you are making excuses.
Tips from students on the ground
- Prepare an introduction to your university or qualifications. Overseas employers may be less familiar with UK universities and the degree classification system. Scholera has a free conversion tool you can use.
- Prepare answers to common questions for overseas candidates. For example, previous international experience, adapting to working in a new country etc. For candidates returning to their home country, you could instead be asked about what your international experience has taught you, why you’re looking to return home etc. Interview Stream has a whole section dedicated to common questions asked in international job interviews – access them by selecting ‘conduct an interview’ > ‘custom interview’ > ‘international/global job search’.
- If you have told the employer you speak a foreign language, be prepared to use it to answer a few questions. Don’t say you’re a fluent speaker if you’re not comfortable doing this!
So start preparing for your video interviews and put yourself in the best possible position to ace it. Got your own tips to share? Comment below!