Traditional interviews were scary enough, but virtual ones present their own set of challenges. And yet, every single day, remote interviews are providing countless opportunities for job seekers and recruiters to meet.
To succeed in your next virtual interview, you need to prepare both for the interview and for the demands of an online meeting itself. Naturally, you don’t need a high-tech machine or augmented reality to take you closer to your interviewer. However, by preparing your gear, your immediate surroundings, and yourself, you can come out on top.
- Ensure your equipment and connection are reliable
You will be informed timely of the date and means of communication, so use this time cleverly. Download and install the app that will be used for the interview and get acquainted with it. Test your audio and video settings, your headset, and make sure you adjust your microphone sound levels. You can do this easily during a test call or a video call with your friend who’s already familiar with the app.
Once you are confident that your headset or headphones/mic are working and your internet connection allows for an interrupted video call, practice speaking and looking into the camera. It is difficult not to look the person in the eyes while you speak to them, true. It is one of the higher hurdles of a video meeting. However, if you look at the screen and away from the camera, it doesn’t leave a good impression. At best, it shows your lack of experience in this manner of communication. At worst, from your interviewer’s perspective, you’re looking elsewhere, uncommitted to the conversation and the job offer.
2. Set up the scenery
If you have been working from home for a while, you may have already set up your home office. Making this space presentable during the online interview is the next step. It is key to set up a home office that will boost productivity but also leave the right impression on your interviewer. Ideally, your background will be empty of your belongings, allowing your interviewer to focus solely on you.
If you can’t move your desk so that your device’s camera faces an empty wall and you face the source of light, consider installing a folding divider wall. These panel screens are affordable and work great as room dividers. For the best effect, make sure you position your camera at your eye level. It may involve placing your laptop on a (stable) pile of books or a box. Once your background is ready, focus on preparing – yourself.
3. Preparation for the online interview
Depending on the company practice, you may receive a list of questions you should answer during the interview. Your recruiter should let you know in advance what to expect. Make sure to prepare for the remote interview as you would prepare for a traditional, face-to-face meeting. The most important task, and the only way to succeed in your next virtual interview, is to get online prepared.
Get familiar with the company by thoroughly researching its online presence. Practice answering the typical interview questions with confidence. Study the job description point by point and provide relevant examples of your work experience. You will know you’re ready and well prepared for the interview if you don’t sound overly rehearsed.
4. Practice your body language and self-awareness
One of the challenges of a video interview is ensuring you present yourself naturally and as close to how you would do it in person. People are often unaware of their body language, the sound of their voice, or the image they are projecting unless they have acquired podcasting experience. This is why self-awareness during the virtual interview can cause the applicant to feel awkward, pause, lose their train of thought, or even block entirely. However, you can avoid this with practice and timely preparation. Shift your focus from the mirrored image of yourself to the camera instead.
Your body language needs to adapt to the circumstances, as well, especially when you’re about to greet your interviewer. A gentle wave with one hand and a smile send the right message and don’t feel forced or unprofessional. Should you experience a moment of distraction and lack of focus, don’t despair. Approach the situation calmly, take a few moments to collect your thoughts, and resume. If you leave an impression of a person in control, it tells your interviewer you’d do well in a similar unforeseen situation at work.
5. Dressing for the remote interview
The fact that you are sitting in your home office, which is also your bedroom and storage, mustn’t affect your appearance. Act and dress too carefree, and you will send a completely wrong impression. Feeling at ease is one thing; seeming uninterested and even disrespectful of the company is another. Dressing for the virtual interview doesn’t differ from the interview in the flesh. You can’t miss with smart casual. Dress for success, and you will succeed in your next virtual interview.
When preparing for the meeting, try out your combination before the video call. Dress up and see if you feel comfortable sitting and talking in it, especially if you have bought something new for the occasion. You must minimize the distractions during your interview, including those coming from your attire.
6. Create a quiet and professional atmosphere
Ensuring you’re not disturbed during the interview is an equally important task. You will know in advance the timeframe for the interview, so organize your family duties with that in mind. Kindly ask whoever shares your living quarters to allow you some uninterrupted time. Silence your phone and mute notifications on similar devices. Close the windows to minimize the noise from outside as much as possible.
If you have pets, don’t allow them to stay in the same room with you. While you might appreciate their loving presence while you work, they present an unwelcome distraction during an online interview. You can always celebrate your new job with them later. If you have little kids and no one to take care of them while you’re in the meeting, hire a babysitter to help you out.
Even once you say goodbye and close the app window, know that your interview is not over yet. Follow up by thanking your interviewer(s) for their time. Take that opportunity to refer to an interesting part of the conversation that will make you memorable during the selection process.