So much has changed since the start of the pandemic and that includes how employers are interviewing candidates. Virtual interviews are likely here to stay in some form or another – especially for first-round interviews. Not only do they save employers time and money, they are convenient allowing the hiring team and candidates to 'Zoom-in' from anywhere.
For the person being interviewed, however, online interviews can be daunting. It can be hard to make a personal connection through a screen or pick up on subtle body language cues. But, with a little extra planning and preparation, here's how to ace your next virtual interview.
- Test your tech
Get comfortable with the platform being used for the interview. While Zoom, Skype, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are similar, you'll want make sure you've installed the software with enough time to test it out. Check your Internet connection as well as your video and audio settings. Headphones with a mic will generally have better sound quality than using a built-in mic on you computer. It's always a good idea is to do a test run with a friend to resolve any issues ahead of time.
2. Plan your set-up
Find a space away from distractions and noise. Your background should be professional and uncluttered so it doesn't distract away from you. Set up the space the night before so you're not rushed and feel free to 'stage' the scene. Avoid beds and messy cluttered areas. Opt for bookshelves, art or even a plain wall for your background.
Position your camera as close to eye level as possible. You can use boxes or books to raise your device to get the perfect frame. If using your phone, a tripod can help. Either way, you'll want to secure your device so it doesn't wobble.
When testing with a friend, ask them if they see anything in the frame that needs to be changed. Avoid using a virtual background as they can be distracting and unprofessional.
Make sure you're well lit. Natural lighting is best but re-positioning one or two lamps in front of you can make a huge difference. Lighting from above or behind can cause shadows and/or glare and is best avoided. If you're finding it's still too dark, consider borrowing or purchasing a ring light.
4. Dress professionally
You may be taking the interview from the comfort of your home but it's still important to dress professionally. When in doubt dress up rather than dressing down. Keep your hair neat and tidy and don't forget to smile.
5. Disconnect from everything else
Twenty minutes before your interview sit down at your device and ensure all your other apps and notifications such as e-mail and Slack are turned off. Silence your phone ringer and any other distractions that can interfere with the interview. Go over any last-minute notes. Take a deep breath and take a calm moment to yourself.
Login to the meeting ten minutes before your scheduled time to ensure all connections are working and wait for the interviewer to join.
6. During the interview
Online interviews can feel less personal so you'll want to remember to:
- Say 'hello', smile and maintain good posture.
- Make some friendly conversation at the beginning.
- Allow the person speaking to finish their sentence before answering a question.
- Look directly into the camera.
- If you're using notes, post them somewhere off-camera and glance at them when needed.
- Lastly, when answering a question during the interview, don't forget to take yourself off mute!
7. The follow-up
As always, don't forget to follow-up with a personalized thank-you note or email. Thank the interviewer(s) for their time, reassert your interest in the position and inquire about the next steps in the interview process. Showing interest will indicate to the hiring manager that you are motivated and the right candidate for the role.
You've got this!