A job interview in most cases is going to be a stressful experience. A traditional interview may be out of the question now that the world is in the midst of a pandemic and businesses are struggling to find their feet. As more companies resort to online technology and their staff start working from home, you’re more likely to be asked to have an online interview rather than a face-to-face interview. If the prospect of meeting a possible recruiter over the internet causes you to break out in a cold sweat, don’t worry, you’re not alone! We’re here to provide you with some of the greatest virtual interview advice so you can ace your encounter and hopefully amaze your prospective employer. We’ll go through the best practises for virtual interviews in this post, including how to prepare for one, and what to do during and afterward.
A little IT knowledge can go a long way when it comes to actually working from home. Demonstrating some of this knowledge in the interview will be a surefire way to help you get up in your prospective employer’s good books!
Firstly it’s really important to understand that a virtual interview is vastly different from a physical, or real interview. The virtual interview usually takes place on skype, zoom, discord or microsoft teams. There are other less common platforms that employers will use. Your employer is going to be meeting with you camera to camera, which can in some cases be harder than an actual personal interview. But don’t worry! Everything is going to be ok!
You’re going to need to make sure you have the right equipment for the job.
It’s always recommended to use a laptop when going to a virtual interview, rather than a tablet or smartphone because it is much easier to frame yourself well for the interview and ensure that the quality is good. Most laptops will have a fairly decent inbuilt camera, though on the low end, they are usually inferior to smartphones, and tablets can provide better utility. Failing having a computer, a tablet or smartphone will be decent. A good microphone plugged into your laptop will really help as audio is important. You will also need a connection to the internet. A good connection is absolutely integral as you don’t want lag, connection issues or other nasties to get in the way.
A virtual interview follows the same steps as a typical job interview, with the exception of these technological considerations.
Before you talk with your employer, you will want to put your digital technology to the test. Making sure you test your technology before your virtual interview is one of the greatest virtual interview recommendations as it will make the entire process MUCH easier and will ensure that issues are less likely to occur during your interview. Not only will using technology well demonstrate your technical abilities, but it will also ensure that your interview runs smoothly. To make sure your sound and visuals are working, test them both. Also, make sure your internet connection is up and running.
Because your virtual interview will almost certainly demand you to use your email or login, it’s crucial to make them basic and professional. Your potential employer is unlikely to be charmed by any amusing or witty usernames. It’s fine to just use your first and last name. I’ve found that the majority of people do NOT like my online persona of “Chan Walrus” so I generally use Alex O’Neil if I’m trying to impress someone – unless they’ve seen my IMDB!
Control Your Environment!
Limiting distractions is one of the most effective virtual interview techniques. If possible, conduct your video interview in a quiet room. If you have pets, they should be in an area where they cannot bother you. Almost nothing could be worse than the idea of your annoying marmalade cat attacking your offscreen lasagna in front of your employer. You will want to clear any clutter from behind you to avoid giving the impression of being disorganised. My bedroom is horrifically messy, so I wouldn’t want an employer to see that! Whilst some people have suggested that it might be a good idea to dress your background and make it look appealing, this can distract from the most important part of the interview. You. To ensure you are the focal point, keep your background as white as possible. Remove any distracting photos or images to give your space a more professional appearance.
Don’t Get Too Close!!!
You wouldn’t sit too near to your interviewer in a face-to-face interview, usually you’d have a bit of space so it wouldn’t be uncomfortable. As a result, it’s best not to sit too near to the camera during a virtual interview. You should be seated far enough away from the screen for the top of your body and head to fit on it. To make this happen, you may need to alter how you normally sit to make sure that you can be comfortable and not in your employer’s face. Play with your system settings ahead of time to make sure you’re ready to go on the day of your interview. Most computers come with a wide angle lens, so you should be fairly comfortable close up, with plenty of space.
Dress for the Occasion!
As much as I like wearing pirate outfits, paisley pajamas and ceremonial robes, these are not appropriate attire for an online interview. Without mentioning what to wear, our virtual job interview advice would be incomplete. Consider a virtual job interview in the same manner you would a traditional one. Avoid clashing designs and anything too casual by sticking to one or two colours. It is perfectly acceptable to dress professionally for a business meeting. While the employer is more concerned with your abilities than with your appearance, it is still in your best interests to make the best first impression possible. The worst experience I have ever had was not an interview, but it was accepting a video call from a client whilst I was in the bath. I’m happy to say they are still my client, but it was an awkward moment and you do NOT want to end up in a situation like that!
Cut down on Glare!
Screen glare is one potential issue with virtual interviews, it can be an absolute nightmare if you aren’t controlling your environment well. Reflections from glasses, jewellery, and watches cause this, which can be distracting to the interviewer. If you need to wear glasses, try repositioning your lighting so that it is behind you rather than in front of you. You might also reposition your computer or adjust the angle of the screen. To be sure, ask your interviewer if they can see and hear you clearly at the start of your interview. Be careful not to block too much of the light out and make your face invisible. A soft light can be placed in front of you to the side if you have a nice lampshade to ensure that the interviewer can see your face.
Know How to Answer!
There’s no way to predict exactly what your interviewer will ask you, every interviewer is different and depending on their leadership style, they could have all manner of different questions. Researching the firm you’re interviewing for and practising common interview questions, on the other hand, can make you feel well prepared. You may be asked the following questions:
- “Can you tell us why we should hire you?”
- “Can you tell me about your strengths and weaknesses?”
- “Can you tell me what you’re looking for in terms of a salary?”
- It is said that practise makes perfect. You might undertake a practise interview with a friend or family member to gain confidence while answering questions about yourself if you have someone to support you.
Video interviews don’t have to be difficult. Here are some of the greatest virtual interview strategies to follow in order to ace that first online meeting.
Be There, and Be Square!
You wouldn’t show up late for a real interview, so you should do the same for your virtual meeting. Allow yourself at least 15 minutes to prepare. This will allow you to set up your computer and prepare to log in to any online platform, such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, Discord, or whatever video technology is in use. It will also offer you time to relax before the interviewer logs on, allowing you to be ready as soon as he or she signs on. Being punctual is a great first impression and it will usually go in your favor!
Thank the Interviewer for Meeting You!
While you won’t be able to physically shake hands with your interviewer, you will be able to greet them online. Say hi, thank them for coming, and wait for them to begin the interview. It’s always a good way to start out, because not everyone remembers courtesy online.
Be Aware of Your Body Language!
There are a few things you may do during your interview to project confidence. Maintain eye contact during the interview by sitting up straight. Your camera should ideally be in the centre of the screen, so that you appear in the centre of the screen. While it’s natural to feel scared, attempt to smile during your interview to show that you’re excited about the position. Be aware of where your hands are in the screen, and if you’re not using them, move them offscreen and touch the desk in front of you or rest them on your legs.
It’s tempting to try to improve your body language, especially when you’re interviewing through a screen. When you are given the opportunity to talk during the interview, though, keep it natural. It worked for Patrick Troughton in Doctor Who, but unnatural hand acting can create Verfremdungseffekt, alienating you from your prospective employer (and they said all those years studying Drama were wasted!) Recruiters will assess your personality to see if you are a good fit for the position. Keep it real by being yourself and explaining how your abilities and experience are a good fit for the job role you’re interviewing for.
Use the Comforts of Home to Control Your Environment!
One of the advantages of a virtual job interview is that you can conduct it in the comfort of your own home. Keep a glass of water on your table or nearby if you tend to get a dry mouth in stressful situations or are concerned about developing a cough while attempting to get your thoughts out. Before your online meeting or while your interviewer is speaking, you can take a small sip of water.
Before you begin your meeting, you will also want to go to the bathroom. There is nothing worse than a meeting going on for several hours and you really REALLY needing to use the lavatory. Having had long meetings with my business partners in the states, some which have gone on for over four hours, it’s essential to be prepared for things going wrong and going on way too LONG.
When you’re conducting a virtual interview, it can be tough for your interviewer to hear you, especially if you’re not in the same room. It’s important to remember to speak properly and without mumbling. Don’t speak too hastily; this will assist you avoid using unnecessary fillers like ‘ahh’ and ‘umm.’ If you’re not interviewing in your native language, speaking slowly and clearly is especially vital. If this is your first time using video technology, remember that you may always practise with a friend beforehand.
My recommendation would be to do a few tongue twisters before you do the interview. This is one of my favorites: Peter Piper.
Speak to the Camera!
Speaking to the camera in a potentially nerve-wracking situation isn’t always a good idea. In a virtual setting, however, this will assist you in maintaining eye contact with your interviewer, and if you’re talking to your camera, whilst it will look like you are looking at your interviewer, you can also focus entirely on the camera, which will feel less like you are being kept in constant eye contact. Because selling your expertise on video does not come effortlessly to everyone, don’t be too concerned if it isn’t perfect. You’re going to be fine!
Make Sure You Have Notes!
The good news is that your interviewer won’t be able to see your laptop or computer because it’s hidden behind your desk or table. As a result, you can carry a few notes with you as prompts. Breaking eye contact is natural, so it won’t be a big deal if you look away occasionally. If you get nervous or flustered during interviews, having notes that can put you back on the right track is a good idea. Simply jot down a few one- or two-word notes to serve as a reminder if you get stuck. You should not compose an essay since you must maintain eye contact with your interviewer and avoid looking down for extended periods of time. You’ll be able to keep eye contact without being distracted if you take a quick look at your written prompts.
Once that the virtual job interview has concluded, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Treat your virtual interview as if it were a real one. After your initial online meeting, contact your interviewer within 24 hours. Thank them for their time with a straightforward email. If you have any additional questions that you didn’t get the chance to ask during your interview, now is your chance to ask them, but keep it brief. Your follow-up email should be short and to-the-point.
It might be nerve-wracking to wait for a decision. Regardless of the outcome, each interview provides you with valuable experience that you can apply in the future. Relax and remain as tranquil as possible.
I hope this has been helpful to you! I’ve spent most of the last two years conducting online interviews and conversations with other marketing professionals. Take it easy and don’t let things get to you. As with normal interviews, online interviews are something that it takes time getting used to, and if you got this far, you’re going to do ok! I try and keep things relaxed and I think having a sense of humor is important, which you may have noticed in this article. Still this isn’t for everyone!