Virtual Interviews: What’s different?

Virtual interview

When applying for an actuarial apprenticeship or a graduate role at an organisation, you will progress through several stages in the application process. An employer is likely to conduct an interview at some stage.


Traditionally, interviews are perceived as nerve-wracking, particularly if they are the final stage in the process. You will know that if you perform well at the interview, you are likely to be offered an actuarial apprenticeship or graduate position. However, technology has influenced the format and function of interviews, and this has been accelerated by COVID-19. As a result, two different types of interview are now commonplace in the application process: video interviews and virtual interviews.

Video interviews

Actuarial employers that employ a high number of students for their apprenticeship or graduate programmes may not have the capacity to conduct hundreds of interviews. Therefore, you may be asked to complete a video interview instead.

Video interviews can take place anytime, anywhere, making it easier for you to schedule the interview around your studies and other commitments. They tend to happen earlier in the process than a traditional interview would. Employers use video interviews as a way to assess vast numbers of applicants. Through this process they will assess how you respond to questions, speak about your experience and express your passion for the organisation and role they are applying for.

So, how do video interviews work in practice? An employer will send you a link with a deadline for completing the interview and you will answer a number of pre-recorded questions using their computer, tablet or mobile camera. For each question, you are provided with 30-60 seconds of ‘thinking time’ to prepare their response.

The biggest difference between a video interview and a traditional face-to-face interview is, of course, the fact that it is a one-way conversation. Some employers might attempt to mitigate against this by recording a video that asks the question, injecting an element of personality into the interview. Additionally, actuarial employers are likely to send information on how you can practice a video interview before the real thing. This is a good opportunity to prepare, shake off any nerves relating to unfamiliarity, and become familiar with positive body language such as looking directly into the camera and maintaining good posture. 

Additionally, the interview can take place anywhere and doesn’t require you to travel to the offices of actuarial employers. You will just need to make sure they have access to a good internet connection as the video interview will usually be web-based, meaning that no app or software needs to be downloaded. Just how you would make sure to check public transport timetables before travelling to a face-to-face interview, you should check your equipment is in working order, fully charged, and has good video and sound quality before doing your video interview. Carrying out these simple checks will remove any nerves or anxiety surrounding the technical requirements and allow for full focus on the actual interview itself.

Virtual interviews

Virtual interviews are different from video interviews and attempt to re-create the traditional interview experience. In practice, this means that there will be an employer that asks you questions in real-time over a video call. Zoom is a popular platform used to make video calls and you will need to download an app or software for their device; employers will provide clear instructions on how to do this and how to join the video call.

Expectations of students

Video interviews and virtual interviews are on the rise for actuarial roles, and they are highly likely to become more commonplace in a post-COVID-19 world. You were previously expected to arrive at employer offices promptly, dressed smartly and fully prepared for the interview ahead.

Largely, these expectations have not changed. A video interview will have a deadline for completion and a virtual interview will take place on a certain time and date. You will be appearing on camera, so it is advisable to dress smart too. Preparation is key also as the questions asked will be the same as they would be in a traditional interview. There are a number of resources students can make use of, but Shortlist.Me is our recommendation. Here, you can test your equipment, practice interviews, and become familiar with the virtual experience.

Additional considerations that you need to take into account when doing a video or virtual interview concerns your environment. In traditional interviews, you don’t need to worry about background noise or the tidiness of the room where the interview is conducted. However, these are very important things to consider, and it is advised that you inform the people they live with about your video or virtual interview timings and arrangements and also make sure your environment is clean and presentable.

Video and virtual interviews are here to stay for actuarial apprenticeship or graduate roles and it’s important that you are aware of their function and format so they can perform to the best of your ability throughout the process.