How to Build AWESOME Online Case Interviews in 2024

Written by
Anh Nguyen
Last updated:
April 5, 2024
Created on:
April 4, 2024

How to Build AWESOME Online Case Interviews in 2024

Adding case interview questions to your video interview software takes time, but the payoff is worth it: You get to assess candidates’ real capabilities at scale, on your terms, and as many times as needed.

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Wouldn’t it be great if we knew exactly if a candidate is a good fit for a role just by looking at their online application or meeting them briefly?

Unfortunately, that often isn’t possible: 7 in 10 job applicants lie on their resumes. As for interviews—even after conducting multiple rounds, we might still end up with the wrong hires for not posing the right questions or employing the right interview methods.

This is where case interview questions find their way into video interviews, helping to paint a much more realistic picture of a candidate’s capabilities and making the hiring process easier.

But before we dive into how to make the most out of this approach, let’s get to know what exactly it is about and why modern recruiters and TA leaders are, for good, geeking out over it.

What are Online Case Interviews?

Case interview questions transport candidates into simulated real-world situations within a controlled environment. These scenarios mirror situations they might encounter in their potential roles to offer employers a glimpse into a candidate's practical skills and responses in situations directly tied to the job's demands.

Imagine you’re conducting a sales interview, which scenario better reveals a candidate's skills: asking about past experience or role-playing a sales pitch? While the former follows a typical script, the latter provides a more tangible and realistic portrayal of what a candidate can actually do. This is the power of case interviews—the ability to go beyond assessing theoretical knowledge and dive into candidates’ abilities and fit for a job.

Benefits of Online Case Interviews

The marriage of pre-recorded video interviews and case interview questions offers bundled benefits these two parties bring to the table.

Candidate flexibility: It's no secret that pre-recorded video interviews offer convenience and flexibility for job seekers. For example, a candidate with a full-time job can participate in a pre-recorded video interview after work hours for a more focused and authentic performance.

Recruiter time saving: Recruiters, in turn, gain the advantage of reviewing the candidate's responses as many times as needed and at their own pace to ensure a more thorough evaluation process—saving hours per week in the process.

Consistency and fairness: In addition to that, the consistency of pre-recorded scenarios ensures that every candidate, regardless of their background or time zone, gets the same set of challenges and is evaluated against the same hiring criteria.

But perhaps the most significant aspect is the realistic candidate portraits that asynchronous case interviews create.

Real-world context: While conventional questions like “Can you describe a challenging situation you faced?” provide self-reported information about a candidate's past experiences, case interviews actively test how candidates handle real-time challenges. As a result, this approach offers a more accurate preview of their on-the-job performance.

That said, this interview method has its own limitations you should be aware of.

Challenges of Online Case Interviews

The power of case interview scenarios lies in their ability to capture the essence of real-world situations. However, like any tool, the devil lies in the details of their implementation, and a misstep can overshadow their benefits.

Too many questions: The relevance of case interviews can sometimes be lost when employers overdo these interviews—making them unnecessarily lengthy with questions that should better off be left for the next evaluation rounds. It’s important to remember that the goal of one-way video interviews is to efficiently shortlist top candidates for further assessments, not to overwhelm them with a marathon of questions that consume an hour or more of their time.

Unclear questions: Ambiguity in case interview questions can pose a significant challenge. One-way video interviews don’t afford candidates the opportunity to ask clarifying questions in real-time. As a result, the responsibility falls on the interviewer to ensure that pre-recorded case interview questions are clear, concise, and provide all necessary context upfront to facilitate effective responses.

Unclear response expectations: If pre-recorded case interviews require extra effort from interviewers to introduce and present the questions, a similar burden falls on interviewees to deliver their answers. Without real-time follow-up questions from interviewers, candidates must rely solely on their recorded responses to convey their solutions, rationale, and considered trade-offs. Clear expectations communicated by interviewers, sufficient answer time, and allowances for retakes—without these elements in place, even grade-A candidates may struggle to demonstrate their capabilities effectively.

Pre-Recorded Case Interviews: Best Use Cases

Pre-recorded video interviews featuring case interview questions are particularly effective in assessing candidates’ practical skills, critical thinking, and job-specific competencies. Here are some of the best use cases where this approach adds value to your hiring process.

Customer Service Roles

Case interviews allow recruiters to assess candidates' communication skills, including verbal clarity, tone of voice, and non-verbal cues. These aspects are crucial for customer service roles where effective communication is essential for customer satisfaction. As customer service increasingly moves online, these scenarios ensure candidates possess the finesse required for the nuances of virtual services.

Here’s an example of a case interview you can use when interviewing for customer service roles.

Scenario Details: You are a customer service representative at a retail company. You receive a call from a customer named Sarah who recently made a purchase online. Sarah ordered a new laptop, but when receiving the package, she discovered that the company had shipped her a desktop computer instead. Sarah explains that she urgently needs the laptop for her project and cannot afford any delays. She demands that you either send her the correct item immediately or provide a full refund.

Instructions for the Candidate:

  • You will have 5 minutes to review the scenario and prepare your response.
  • You will then record a video response addressing the customer's concerns and proposing a solution.
  • Focus on demonstrating that you actively listened to the customer, empathized with their situation, and then offer a resolution that aligns with company policies and customer satisfaction goals.

Sales Positions

It’s hard to imagine a sales or marketing team not leveraging video these days. With videos now visible in nearly every stage of the sales cycle, from initial outreach to the final closure and handover, using pre-recorded case interviews becomes a strategic move when hiring for sales positions. With that in mind, a video sales pitch targeted at a prospect provides direct insight into a candidate’s ability to engage with potential customers and establish connections. What’s more, you get to know if they can adapt to change should your sales efforts shift to more video prospecting.

Here’s an example of how a case interview would appear in your asynchronous video interview.

Scenario Overview:

You are a sales representative at a software company, and you have a scheduled meeting with Mary, the owner of a small marketing agency, to discuss potential collaboration solutions designed for his small business. Mary has expressed interest in finding a tool that can centralize project tasks, facilitate communication among team members, and enhance productivity. However, she is skeptical about investing in new software and is concerned about the learning curve and implementation process.

Instructions for the Candidate:

  • You will have 10 minutes to review the scenario and prepare your sales pitch.
  • You will then record a video presentation pitching the new product to the prospective client.
  • Focus on highlighting key features, demonstrating value propositions, and addressing potential objections.
  • Aim to build rapport with the client by tailoring your pitch to their needs (as you understand them from the prompt given) and articulate a compelling call to action for the next steps.

Teaching and Training Positions

As online education continues to rise, using case interviews for teaching and training positions becomes essential. This interview method allows candidates to showcase their adaptability, communication skills, and ability to engage and inspire learners, regardless of the learning environment.

A good pre-recorded case interview question would look like this:

Scenario Details:

As a prospective teacher at an elementary school, you are tasked with designing a 20-minute lesson plan for a class of 4th-grade students. You have the flexibility to choose a topic from the 4th-grade curriculum that aligns with your expertise and teaching style.

Instructions for the Candidate:

  • Review the scenario and choose a topic from the 4th-grade curriculum that you feel confident teaching.
  • You will then record a 20-minute video presenting a detailed outline of your lesson plan, including instructional activities, materials/resources needed, and estimated time for each component.
  • Explain how you will differentiate instruction to meet the diverse needs of students in your class.
  • Describe the interactive and engaging activities you have planned to capture students' interest and promote active participation.
  • Outline how you will assess student learning and progress throughout the lesson.
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How to Make the Most of Your Pre-recorded Case Interviews

Keep these in mind as you craft case interview questions for your one-way video interviews.

Choose User-Friendly Software

Both interviewers and candidates stand to benefit immensely from a modern video interview software solution that is user-friendly, supports various question formats, and is attentive to customer queries. Equally important is creating an informed and comfortable environment that allows candidates to focus on showcasing their skills without being hindered by unfamiliarity with the technology. Tutorial materials, such as online documentation, tutorial videos, mock tests, and tech support, are handy to guide candidates on recording responses, utilizing platform features, and troubleshooting common technical issues.

Create Realistic Scenarios

The heart of effective case interviews lies in realism. Rather than putting candidates into situations that leave them scratching their heads, your case interview questions should mirror the everyday challenges of the job. Intelligent video interview software (some are even free!) today can lend a hand in suggesting role-play questions tailored to the job requirements.

Pro tip: Always gut-check these suggested questions by asking yourself, “Does this reflect a day in the life of someone in this role?” to ensure realism. 

Establish Clear Expectations

Clarity at the outset sets the stage for a more focused and productive evaluation. What are you looking for? What's the expected timeframe? What are the key areas of focus? Similar to providing a clear syllabus before a test, this step ensures your candidates know what you’re looking for. And as they say, a well-lit path makes the journey smoother.

Utilize Video and Text Questions

Video questions bring in a human touch, while text questions help add an extra layer of context. This dual approach not only provides candidates with a comprehensive understanding of your video interview questions but also contributes to an enriched overall experience. So make sure you make good use of them!

Set Realistic Answer Duration and Attempts

Always put yourself in the candidate’s shoes to determine whether your set answer times and retakes are feasible or ridiculous. You don’t want candidates to feel constrained by rigid timelines. You definitely don’t want an over-prepared answer, either. Thus, the interview response durations and the number of attempts need to be aligned with the nature of each case.

Incorporate Follow-up Live Interviews

One of the drawbacks of one-way video interviews is lacking real-time interactions. But if you integrate live or two-way video interviews to follow up on pre-recorded ones, you’ll be able to bridge that gap. This technique allows you to get spontaneous responses and gain deeper insights into candidate capabilities.

Establish Objective Evaluation Criteria

Whether it's communication skills, problem-solving acumen, or adaptability, having a structured framework ensures that assessments are objective and uniform across all candidates. This not only streamlines the evaluation process but also reduces potential biases we don’t realize we have when making hiring decisions.

Collect Feedback and Iterate

You may have to go on several takes to get an okay shot for your first pre-recorded case interviews, the questions may not be very clear, or the set answer durations may be too short. Try mock-test these interview questions with other team members before sending them to candidates. It’s also wise to give candidates an option to leave feedback on their interviews. Your online case interviews will get better over time as you take those inputs to heart.

More Hiring Confidence

The beauty of incorporating case interviews into pre-recorded video interviews lies in the practical insights gained. You're not just evaluating resumes or responses to theoretical questions, you're seeing candidates bringing their skills and personalities to life. This marriage gives you the confidence that the individuals you bring on board have not only the right qualifications but also the practical skills and mindset to thrive in their respective roles.

Pro tip: Involve the employee or direct supervisor of the role for which you're about to set up case interviews in designing and mock-testing these interviews with you. After all, they understand the ins and outs of the role the best. This might initially consume some time, but the payoff may be bigger than you realize.

Author’s bio and info

  • Anh Nguyen, HR Tech Editor at SelectSoftware Reviews
  • Anh Nguyen has spent the last 5 years working as a writer and researcher at recruitment startups and tech companies. She is now an HR Tech Editor of SelectSoftware Reviews, where she covers in-depth reviews and analytics on recruitment software. Anh loves discussing all things HR tech, spending time with her family (and her blog), and engaging in running races with her two laid-back yet competitive doggies.
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