Interviews are stressful. You need to prepare paperwork, select the right attire, research everything about the company and the interviewer, and actually find the location. So a virtual interview has zero stress, right? Not necessarily! A virtual job interview requires the same level of professionalism, but with a different set of variables to keep in mind.
Our advice for avoiding virtual snafus and making a great impression:
Test Your Technology
The minute you agree to a virtual interview, test your technology to ensure you’re set up properly. Check your internet connectivity, confirm which platform will be used (Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom?), and confirm your camera and microphone are working. Then on the day of, test your equipment and internet connection again!
Position the computer so your eyes are positioned to look straight ahead at the screen and not downward, as they may look like they’re closed. This might mean you’ll have to prop up your computer on something to raise it up a little higher.
Set the Scene and Minimize Distractions
While testing your technology, determine where you will sit to take the interview. Find a room with optimal lighting (preferably near a window), and with a wall behind you to guarantee you’re the focal point of the conversation. Be sure to tidy up your surroundings!
Once settled, eliminate all distractions. Turn off the TV; silence your cell phone, and close any nearby windows to muffle neighborhood traffic. If you have a pet, try to make sure it’s in another room as to not cause a distraction.
Sit Down Prepared
You want to be focused and ready to answer any interview questions without the help of the internet. Same as an in-person interview, do your research on the company ahead of time, and jot down notes for easy reference. Still print out a copy of your resume, so that you don’t forget key talking points. Just like an in-person interview, come prepared with answers to common interview questions, such as:
- Why are you interested in this role?
- What do you know about our company?
- What are your biggest strengths/weaknesses?
- What do you consider to be your biggest professional achievement?
- Tell me about a challenge at work and how you dealt with it.
- What are you looking for in a new position?
- Why are you leaving your current role?
You should also be prepared to answer, “Do you have any questions for me?” Interview questions you might ask an employer include:
- What does a typical day in the life of this role look like?
- What are the company’s goals this quarter?
- How would you describe the ideal candidate for this position?
- Where does this role sit in the organization, and what other groups will I be working with?
Practice, Don’t Memorize
You don’t want to sound robotic throughout your interview when answering or asking questions, or giving your elevator pitch. Sure, you’re able to have your notes, questions and talking points written in front of you, but you still want to sound natural.
It’s important to keep things simple. Don’t feel like you have to give a long-winded answer if the question doesn’t warrant it. Being clear and concise is one of the most important things in a job interview, virtual or in-person.
Monitor Your Body Language
On video, you can’t firmly shake a hiring manager’s hand nor easily exude enthusiasm. However, you should still monitor your body language. Virtually, the main way to communicate confidence is to sit up straight, smile, and keep the camera at eye level. Research shows that employers are more likely to remember what you say if you maintain eye contact, so keep your focus on the camera when talking, not on the image of the hiring manager.
Yes, You Still Need to Dress the Part
Attire is one of the most frequently overlooked video interview tips. Even though an online interview usually means the interviewer won’t see anything from the waist down, it doesn’t mean you should only dress up the upper half of your body! You may need to stand up to grab something in the middle of the interview, which would reveal your mismatched bottoms.
Dress as you would for an in-person interview. For men, that might mean a button-up shirt, blazer, and khakis. Women should consider a dress or skirt and blouse. Consider viewing yourself through your webcam to make sure your outfit looks professional on camera as well.
Professional clothing will show you’re serious about the position, but there are personal benefits, as well. Studies show that people feel authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when dressed professionally.
Preparing for a virtual job interview? Download these tips as a printable cheat sheet to keep handy ahead of your next interview!