Three top tips for tackling construction employers' video interviews – TARGETjobs

Got a video interview with a construction employer? Whether you are applying for an engineering, management or surveying job, you need to read this expert advice from Wates on showing your best side.
Video enables companies to interview more candidates.
Larger graduate employers have been using video interviews for a while, especially for first interviews. These are typically known as pre-recorded or automated video interviews because they are not usually ‘live’ conversations with an interviewer. However, since the advent of the pandemic many construction, engineering and surveying employers have adapted their recruitment process. First interviews continue to be pre-recorded virtual interviews or telephone interviews, but final interviews will also be held as ‘live’ video calls and you may be invited to a virtual assessment centre too.
So, for example, Atkins’ recent early careers recruitment process has included a telephone interview, a virtual second interview and then a virtual assessment centre; Barratt Developments’ has included a video interview, a virtual online assessment and a final interview (which may be held virtually or in person, depending on government guidance).
This article will focus on giving advice for pre-recorded video interviews, with input from Samena Choudhury, a former early careers recruiter and now community investment adviser at Wates. Head over to our articles giving expert performance tips for Zoom interviews and on virtual assessment centres for advice on other types of digital assessment.
Many graduates dislike the idea of sitting a pre-recorded interview, but this recruitment method actually increases the chances of you getting an interview in the first place. ‘Video allows the employers to interview more candidates than they would be able to via the phone or face to face, while also keeping the process standardised for all,’ says Samena.
Each employer’s set-up will vary, but in most cases it will not be a ‘live’ conversation with an interviewer. According to Samena, with Wates: ‘Upon starting the video interview there is a pre-recorded introduction from an early careers manager to provide an overview of our programme, tips and clear instructions for the upcoming interview. Then you’ll be asked a series of questions. Candidates record their answers in the allocated timeframe and upload them.’
Samena sees the not-in-real-time aspect of the video interview as one of its main advantages. ‘The gap between the question and recording allows the individual time to consider their response, making sure they are saying what they mean and giving the best answer to the question,’ she says.
Video interviews elsewhere seem to follow a similar format to that of Wates. A past video interview candidate at Balfour Beatty reported being asked four questions and having an unlimited time in which to consider the questions. A graduate engineer at Thames Water, meanwhile, said that they took recorded answers to seven competency questions.
Your interviewers will want to find out the same information as they would in any first interview, regardless of the format. They will be looking to discover:
‘In video interviews, we look to see how the applicant presents themselves and how they communicate, as well as assessing the content of their answers,’ says Samena. She will also be gauging your manner: ‘We always look for enthusiastic and motivated candidates to join our business.’
You won’t be surprised, therefore, that the questions you’ll be asked will be similar to those you can expect in any first-round interview, whether held over the phone or face to face.
Wates’ interview is fairly typical: ‘The first section asks about why you decided to apply for Wates and why you applied for the individual position; it also includes some strength-based questions to allow us to find out more about you,’ Samena tells us. ‘The second section of the interview is composed of competency-based interview questions.’
targetjobs can’t tell you exactly what motivational questions you’ll be asked, but if you practise answering these questions you’ll be along the right lines:
Competency questions require you to give an example of when you used a specific skill in a certain situation. What these skills will be will depend on the skills stated on the job description or advertisement. Typical construction competency questions include:
Other strengths-based or more general questions you could be asked include:
Gain tips on how to answer most of the above interview questions with our advice feature ‘Construction interview questions and how to answer them’.
Find out more about competency interview questions and how to answer them.
Read up on strengths interview questions and learn how to tackle them.
‘Treat every part of the process like you would if it was a face-to-face interview,’ advises Samena. ‘We expect our candidates to have done some thorough research into Wates and the role you are applying for, and to have a good understanding of the trainee scheme. You can find a lot of this information on our website – but I would recommend that all applicants use our social media channels, too.’
Unlike in a face-to-face interview, though, Samena points out that in any video interview you can have your notes by your side. You could even attach post-its to your screen and the recruiters won’t know!
Prepare for possible questions as you would for any interview, using the above as a starting point.
You want to create a focused, professional impression, so do make sure that you get the basics right. ‘Select the right surroundings for your video interview – for example, a quiet area with good lighting in which you are unlikely to be interrupted,’ advises Samena. ‘Make sure that the phones or devices you aren’t using to upload your responses are switched off.’
‘One mistake candidates often make during video interviews is that they start getting distracted with things that are happening around the room,’ says Samena. ‘I would advise that, while you are doing your video interview, you try to maintain eye contact with the camera.’ It creates a better impression and helps you to project enthusiasm.
‘If you are unsure about how you come across on video interview, don’t be afraid to try a few practice questions on your device,’ Samena adds. ‘You can play these back to yourself and see whether there are any improvements you can make to your technique.’
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