Imagine being invited to interview with the accounting firm you want to work for. You are told the interview will be automated. You will get 30 seconds to prepare for each question and then 90-180 seconds to record your responses. On camera. No do-overs.
You’re thoughtful, great with numbers, love puzzles, and your analytical mind is sharp. You have the education and desire for the job. You feel confident you meet all of the requirements. But… you’re an introvert. You are shy, and you tend to get nervous when a camera is pointed in your direction.
You immediately feel anxious, but decide to go forward with the interview. You prepare yourself to answer all of the standard HireVue interview questions you can find online. You put on your suit and get ready to do your best.
You start the interview and the first question isn’t as bad as you thought. You answer decently and move on. The second question throws you off. You wonder if you spoke clearly enough. You think your Internet connection might be spotty. You know your body language wasn’t confident. You remember a detail you wish you had mentioned. You feel like you failed, and now the next question is coming in 30 seconds. You are struggling to think clearly. You are sweating and your heart is beating faster than usual.
Sounds awful, right? You’re probably reading this article because you fear something similar might happen to you. You want to work for a company known for HireVue interviews and you want to learn how to navigate automated interviews with greater ease.
In this article, I will walk you through three easy steps to help you make the most of the time you invest in preparing for your HireVue interview. The concepts involved are based on neuroscience, psychology, and system design best practices I have learned over the last two decades. Not only are they effective tools for preparing for an automated interview, but they can also be used when preparing for almost any difficult task.
I began my career as an IT Systems Analyst. Around the same time, I developed an interest in neuroscience and psychology. At first, I wasn’t sure why I wanted to study each of these areas. Over time, it became clear. The human body and mind share similarities with computer systems.
The human body is a series of integrated systems. For example, our nervous system contains a network, and our brain houses a powerful database. Each of these components works together every day. As someone who designed systems professionally, I was fascinated by the truth that the integrated systems of our bodies constantly learn, gather feedback, and optimize themselves. I was even more fascinated to learn that I could affect these processes myself using simple techniques.
In the case of a HireVue interview, we want to teach our body to respond optimally in a recorded interview environment. The first step of the process is to lay the necessary framework within the brain. While that may sound like a metaphor, it isn’t. Step 1 involves creating a network of connections within your brain dedicated to handling this specific interview format.
From a neuroscience perspective, this is the process of establishing a neural network using a natural attribute of the human brain called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity supports learning through the process of forming and optimizing connections within the brain through repetition and pattern recognition.
Your brain has always worked like this. You used this process when you learned how to walk, talk, ride a bike, add, subtract, multiply, write, draw, drive a car, etcetera. At first, each of these activities was new and you were only able to handle the basics. Over time, your brain and body worked together to enhance your network so that you could process more and more information. That’s how your first steps turned into walking and eventually jumping. That’s how pedaling a few feet on a bike turned into the ability to ride for miles while enjoying the scenery.
Your brain can do the same for the HireVue interview process if you establish your network properly. You can go from thinking through each and every tiny piece of the process to putting the minutiae on autopilot so that you can focus on delivering your best answer possible. Here’s how to get started:
That’s it. You invested roughly an hour of working time and developed a network within your brain. Easy, right?
At this point, you’ve generated a decent amount of footage of you responding to HireVue interview questions. You have also built a beneficial framework within your brain dedicated to HireVue interview success. Step 2 involves extending that framework and optimizing it for peak performance through the development of a feedback loop.
What is a feedback loop? In system design, we leverage feedback loops to observe the outputs of a process to identify the causes of issues and opportunities for improvements. The outputs of a system are fed back into the system in cycles while strategic adjustments are made and tested. In the case of preparing for a HireVue interview, you can utilize a feedback loop by watching the videos you made in Step 1, identifying patterns, and making improvements.
Why does this step matter? Watching yourself and making helpful adjustments amplifies the connections you made in your brain when practicing the interview questions in Step 1. More connections = optimized network = better interview performance.
Additionally, observing yourself will help you psychologically combat your potential feelings of anxiety. When we feel threatened by something, like bombing an important interview, our fight-or-flight systems come online and release stress hormones into the body. Observing yourself move through the process in a safe environment will help convince your mind and body that you’re fine and there’s no need to push a ton of adrenaline and cortisol through your system during a HireVue interview.
Here’s how to gather feedback and feed it back into the process:
At this point, your network is handling HireVue basics and has the processing power to devote to unforeseen challenges. Your brain knows how the process works, what it feels like, what making a mistake feels like, how to observe the process, and how to improve. You should notice that you feel less stressed, the process seems easier, and the quality of your answers has improved
You can repeat this process again if you like, but I wouldn’t recommend spending hours on end preparing. At some point, the law of diminishing returns will come into play and your time would be better served elsewhere… Like moving on to Step 3. The good news is Step 3 is easy and it takes less than a few minutes to learn.
As an IT Business Consultant, I helped my clients prepare for challenges through a strategic planning process called risk mitigation. As a career coach, I want to help you mitigate (alleviate, reduce, diminish) the potential stress you may experience during your HireVue interview.
I am not going to suggest you take a long relaxing bath, go for a run, or meditate on success for an hour before you get in front of the camera. While those techniques help to alleviate stress, they do not help you in real-time scenarios. In order to be your best in a HireVue interview, you need strategies you can use during the interview itself. I will offer two.
My first recommendation involves a breathing technique that has scientific support for its ability to reduce stress quickly. I will give you the basics, but I suggest watching Dr. Andrew Huberman of Stanford break it down further here.
The technique is called a ‘physiological sigh’. It helps to lower your heart rate, bring in the oxygen your brain needs to think clearly, and remove the carbon dioxide your body builds up when you get stressed and hold your breath. There are two simple steps to this technique:
That’s it. The physiological sigh is simple, effective, and you can do this during your 30-second break in between questions.
Be sure to limit your use to once or twice when you’re actually feeling anxious. This will keep you from hyperventilating and ensure the technique has a maximum effect when you need it the most.
My second recommendation for real-time stress relief requires zero practice because it relies on actions we do all the time - smiling and laughing. Studies have shown that holding a smile on your face during a stressful time helps to lower your heart rate. The same is true for laughter. Essentially, these actions act like a pressure release and help the body process stress hormones.
First, be open to laughing at yourself in between questions if you messed up a bit on the previous question. You’re human. It happens. Laughing can help you reset and move on.
Second, smile at yourself in the camera in between questions from time to time as a reminder that you’re doing your best. Offering yourself kind and positive reinforcement can help reduce anxiety and keep you on track.
Make sure your smile or laugh is quick and natural in case the camera records it. If it is recorded, this behavior is likely to come off as endearing and a demonstration of your positive attitude.
Try working in one or both of these techniques when preparing using steps one and two above. Observe how you feel, and prepare yourself to use these helpful tools if you need them during your interview.
I hope the tips offered here help you to navigate your HireVue interview with greater levels of confidence and ease. Adjust the system I suggested to meet your specific needs and play around with each of the techniques until you find what works best for you. I wish you well in your upcoming interview.
Don’t forget to check out all of the resources available on MockQuestions.com. Our authors have written over 60,000 expert answers to interview questions to help you do your best.