Neil Johnson, ACCA Careers editor

The fact that videos are increasingly being used in the hiring process may send shivers down many people’s spines – and fair enough. There was once a time when all you needed to land a role was a decent CV, an interview or two and hey presto, a job offer! Now we need to be TV presenters and influencers, smiling for the camera, selling ourselves to a lens.

Yet while the idea of recording a video might seem intimidating, it could actually turn out to be a secret weapon – one in which you can shake off the constraints of a CV and express yourself in person, winning employers over with a taste of the real you.

‘A video can help a candidate present themselves far better than via their CV’

‘Most employers use videos for “recorded questions” in the early stages of the hiring process, but some also use filmed interviews as a precursor to the final application stage and a live interview,’ says Simon Reichwald, chief progression officer at HR technology company Connectr.

They’re efficient, cost-effective, convenient, flexible and environmentally friendly; people can record and re-record videos at home, and employers can watch, rewatch and share them among staff as they please. All this without the scheduling, travel and commitment involved in interviews and meetings that can only be accounted for by the people present.

Express yourself

Videos enable the job applicant to express themselves in terms that suit them. ‘A video can help a candidate present themselves far better than via their CV or a pre-screening call alone,’ says Caroline King, director of permanent talent solutions at Robert Half. ‘It enables an individual to delve deeper into their skills, experience and attributes, as well as demonstrating their personality to a potential employer or recruiter.’

‘Recording in the comfort of your own surroundings helps create a more relaxed environment’

‘These videos allow applicants to showcase their expertise on a more elevated level, and employers are becoming increasingly aware that this can prevent potentially valuable candidates from slipping through the net during the CV sifting phase.’

Think of it as an extension of your CV, she continues. ‘Preparing a detailed and professional video will stand in candidates in good stead for their application and ultimately securing an interview.’

In control

Another obvious benefit to the candidate is that a video can be recorded as many times as required until you are happy with the content.

Good posture and body language will help convey confidence and positivity

‘It can be refined, edited or completely redone to ensure that everything the candidate wants to focus on is included – something not afforded during a screening call or initial face-to-face interview,’ says King. ‘Being able to record these in the comfort of their own surroundings also helps to create a more relaxed environment, allowing an applicant to more confidently showcase their abilities.’

Ideal structure

Depending on what the company asks for, the following is a decent structure:

  • A friendly introduction. Be warm and smiling; look down the lens as if maintaining eye contact. State your name and the position you’re applying for.
  • Elevator pitch. Articulate briefly but clearly what you do. Express interest in the role and company. Good posture and body language will help convey confidence and positivity. Avoid language that’s too casual, especially slang.
  • Strengths, skills and qualifications. Essentially, break down your CV. Review the job description, pick out key words and mention them; you want to connect you to the role.
  • Recent achievement. Back this up with a relevant real-world accomplishment. Try using STAR (situation, task, action and result) to tell a concise story.
  • A bit of you. Showcase your personality. Mention any extra-curricular points that link to the role, eg volunteering (commitment, empathy), sport (teamwork, leadership), arts (creativity, diversity of thought).

It’s wise to ensure you have a plain and business-appropriate background

Preparing for ‘Action!’
  • Follow closely the company’s instructions for the video
  • Choose a style: down the lens (face to face); off-camera as if to interviewer
  • Draft your talking points
  • Stage the video: background, lighting, external noise
  • Rehearse more than once
  • Record, review and re-record if needed. If you stutter, stumble or mispronounce, pause and start the sentence again – you don’t need to start from the beginning every time
  • Use editing software to clip out any overly long pauses and mistakes.

King’s top tips

Treat it as a face-to-face interview. Dress as if you were meeting an interviewer in person. Ensure you have a plain and business-appropriate background, and minimise background noise.

Map out what you want to say. Have a few bullet points based on what you’ve been asked to provide – don’t write a script. The video needs to be engaging and it will be obvious if you are merely reading from a transcript. Remember that it can be redone until you’re happy with it.

Keep the job description in mind. Include the salient points of the key skills of the job description but be precise and concise. Save the detail for the next stage of the process.

Be engaging. Smile and keep a good energy and pace throughout. Relax your shoulders and ensure you are sitting or standing comfortably to help your delivery.