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I applied for a position at a company and have received link for video interview which will be about 30 mins long. I am bit shy but I do well when a human takes my interview but I find it weird and get really I mean very nervous when I have to speak thinking no one is listening and I am speaking to a bot.

I know practice may help me but the link is going to expire in 2 days. Part of the reason of my nervousness is the fact I have attended similar interview before which didn't go well. Because when asked about simple generic questions about teamwork like "Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team." I fumble because I don't like to work in a team and have been working mostly independently. Also because if I take the interview at home some how I don't feel serious and may answer casually.

I may lie a bit and mould my answer if it was human listening but to lie to a bot seems weird to me and I end up being nervous. Any idea how to get over it?

Should I e-mail and ask HR for in-person interview?

  • I am speaking to a bot. how exactly? In the other end, it's still a human, whether it's video conferencing or in-person interview. – Sourav Ghosh Dec 11 '19 at 17:53
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    @SouravGhosh its automated – Stupid_Intern Dec 11 '19 at 18:05
  • @SouravGhosh, I assume it's more like a video conference recording. The software plays recorded questions from an actor. You respond and it records your response for later review by a human being. I did that for a bank once 20+ years ago when I was interviewing to be a bank teller. My interview was in person, but the manager of the bank just placed me in front of this computer for 30 minutes to interview me about customer service. In my case, it was a basic screening interview. – Stephan Branczyk Dec 11 '19 at 18:47
  • Create a document with anticipated questions and your best answers. Discuss the answers with friends if you feel that would help. Print the document at a large font size and tape it up on the wall, directly behind the camera or as close to camera level as possible. When you're asked the question, look at your "cheat sheet" on the wall and you'll have the answer handy. – Roger Dec 12 '19 at 18:22
  • This might sound unintuitive.. but one thing that could help relieve your stress is going on a long walk and avoiding stimulants like coffee before the interview. – Canadian Coder Dec 12 '19 at 19:36
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My current employer uses automated video pre-screening interviews which sound similar to what you're describing. There is no human actively involved on the employer's end, the interview is conducted by a bot which records a video of you answering questions via the camera on your laptop, and later on someone in HR and/or the hiring manager review the video recording to screen candidates.

I can tell you from experience, nearly everyone who does them is nervous. Talking to a computer without a human on the other end is not a natural or comfortable thing for most people. So, the good news is, you're not alone.

For me, one of the best ways to avoid nervousness during an uncomfortable event is to spend time preparing myself for the event. I can give you the following recommendations:

  • Dress appropriately for the workplace at which you're interviewing. If you would wear a shirt and tie for an in-person interview, don't conduct the video interview in your pajamas.
  • Do the interview in a place with no distractions (either on camera or off). It's really hard to focus on a candidate's answers when their dog (or children, or pet chicken) is walking around in the background, or there's a TV or radio off-camera making noise. It's also hard to focus if there's so much stuff in the background that it becomes distracting. A plain wall or other simple backdrop is best. If you're not comfortable doing this at home, perhaps there's a library or other public space nearby which has meeting rooms or other facilities you can use. Or, use an empty room at a friend or relative's house.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Talk to your computer. Put a word doc on your laptop's screen and type a list of 5 questions into it. Then, pretend you're in the video interview, read the questions off, and answer them while making "eye contact" with your laptop. It's not comfortable, but you will present better if you can learn to treat your laptop as if it was a human. People who stare at the floor or are constantly looking off to the side during a recorded video interview are sometimes hard to understand - aside from the potential risk of coming off as lacking confidence.
  • Do things to make yourself comfortable before the interview. Maybe have a cup of tea, or play your favorite video game. Don't try to study right up until the last second before you hit the "go" button. Give your brain a break.
  • Do things to make yourself comfortable during the interview. Maybe put a photo of your significant other or your family next to the laptop screen. Or anything else that can give you a sense of confidence without being distracting.
  • Give honest, straightforward answers that fit the format of the interview. One advantage to an automated video interview is that there isn't another person there asking you questions or changing the subject halfway through your reply! Don't be afraid to take a second, pause, and think before you speak. Answer in the time alloted. If you have 30 seconds, don't give a one-word reply.
  • Don't forget to smile. The people watching the interview know that you're human - they know you're nervous, and they're used to people stuttering, pausing, coughing, clearing their throat, or doing similar things during the interview. Don't be hard on yourself. Rather than seeing this as a test, see it as an opportunity to shine. You have accomplished things in your career that are relevant to this job (or else you wouldn't be applying, right?) so let that thought take some of the pressure off.
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  • Also, record yourself talking to your computer and review it. Look for things that may come off unnatural or off-putting. Then record yourself again, focusing on those things. Pay attention to posture and intonation. Are you leaning in as though you're interested or slouching and mumbling? Are you monotone or upbeat? – SemiGeek Dec 11 '19 at 22:19
  • @JohnSpiegel I almost suggested that, but speaking from personal experience, I literally can't stand to watch a video of myself! If you can handle doing that without cringing, it's definitely worthwhile. – dwizum Dec 11 '19 at 22:21
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    I think most of us are that way. I hated doing it, but it made me much better not only at video but in-person interviewing. – SemiGeek Dec 11 '19 at 22:23
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    I am outright horrified at this idea for screening – Noel Dec 11 '19 at 23:05
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    @Noel - Speaking as a hiring manager, I do hear that a lot of candidates hate it and find it uncomfortable. I've had candidates request to skip it, which I'm fine with, but HR seems bothered by those requests. For better or worse, since HR dictates hiring process in most employers, it doesn't seem to matter what candidates or hiring managers think of it. More companies seem to be doing this, so being able to do well at this process is probably becoming an important skill. – dwizum Dec 12 '19 at 13:19
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Video interviews are usually used to filter out candidates that are completely unfitting, e.g. behaving weirdly. Companies receive a lot of applications, and there will probably be several dozens of people applying for this position and having a video interview.

This means two things:

  1. As long as you don't do anything very stupid or awkward (like forgetting to put on your clothes), it's unlikely that the person who is watching these videos will even remember you. Video interviews make everyone nervous, and HRs know that. You don't need to look like the most confident person in the world. Just be yourself, smile and try to be nice.
  2. Asking HRs for an interview in person would probably decrease your chances quite a bit. First of all, it would show that you are not willing to leave your comfort zone even for something important. Second, they probably have a lot of candidates, and it would be easier for the HRs to just proceed with other people. So don't do that.

So, just make sure your internet connection is good and your headset is working.

I had to do a video interview to get my current job, and I was so nervous so I started answering a question and then forgot what I wanted to say. I apologized and honestly said that I'm feeling quite nervous. Well, I ended up getting the job.

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Any idea how to get over it?

Trying to account for all the issues you mention, I suggest:

  • Practice for the 2 days that remain
  • Find somewhere other than your home to take the interview
  • Don't lie
  • If asked "Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team.", tell them that you don't like working as part of a team (since you wouldn't want to work at a place you don't like anyway).

Should I e-mail and ask HR for in-person interview?

You could call HR and tell them that you get nervous with a video interview and prefer to do it in person.

If they agree - don't lie.

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Breathe.

It sounds stupid... but it's probably the thing that's helped me out in public speaking, speaking in meetings, presenting information, etc. Before you speak, take a slow, calm, centering breath.

I mean, maybe I'm projecting, but when I read how your question was actually asked, it almost feels panicked. Take a second and read your second sentence out loud. And that's when you're typing, not under a time crunch of coming up with an at-the-moment answer. Maybe I'm off base, but I'm picturing you asking this question in-person, and it's coming out extremely quick, nervous, and unfiltered-stream-of-consciousness.

So my advice is: slow down. Take a calm breath every time they finish asking a question to you. Give yourself time to form your thoughts a bit, give yourself a chance to calm your heartrate, etc.

If you're looking for more, I'd actually suggest googling for tips on public speaking... because to be honest, this almost struck me as a parallel of the nervousness people having speaking in front of a large faceless crowd.

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People tend to be confused about being nervous vs. being excited. I am sure if you think about it - you will understand that you are excited just as athletes are excited before a race. And the same way singers are excited before they perform on stage. If you ask them if they're nervous-most of them will say yes. But they are excited as they are diving into something they care about, not nervous. Keep reminding yourself this and you should be fine.

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If you feel uncomfortable talking when no human is present, then ... maybe you shouldn't talk when no human is present. See if you can get a friend to just sit behind the computer. Then you can direct your answers towards them.

I know practice may help me but the link is going to expire in 2 days. Part of the reason of my nervousness is the fact I have attended similar interview before which didn't go well. Because when asked about simple generic questions about teamwork like "Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team." I fumble because I don't like to work in a team and have been working mostly independently.

For the future, you might want to look up common questions and practice them ahead of time (as in, before you even get a link).

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