The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many things online, and job interviews are yet another thing that has gone virtual. If you are entering the job market during this strange year, you are going to need to be able to not only ace your interview, but to ace it in a new format. While interviewing skills are similar no matter the manner the interview takes place, there are a few strategies that apply to online interviewing that are unique to this format. Consider these online interview tips as you prepare to jump on Zoom or Google Meet to interview with your prospective new employer.
1. Work Out Tech Issues Early
One of the most important virtual interview tips is to test out your tech before the appointment. You don’t want to look like you’re not a professional because you can’t figure out how to turn on your microphone during your interview. Find out the platform the interview will use, whether it’s Zoom or something else, and test it out before the interview.
Make sure your video and audio both work. Understand your lighting and be sure you can easily be seen. Doing a test run will give you confidence and also protect you from embarrassment during the interview. In addition, make sure your Internet connection is working well, or find a place to have the interview where Internet issues are not going to impact your success. The night before the interview, charge your laptop or tablet. Make sure you start the interview with a full charge, so even if your device gets unplugged, your interview continues.
2. Choose Your Outfit
You may be asking yourself, “what should I wear to a virtual job interview?” Just like an in-person interview, what you wear is important in an online interview. The perk here is that only your upper body will be visible, so you can have comfortable shoes and pants on. However, make sure you dress the part. A good rule of thumb is to dress slightly better than the expected level of dress for your potential job. A collared shirt is a must, and a tie or suit jacket or a dress or blazer may be important as well. Comb your hair; put on some makeup if you would normally wear it.
3. Choose Your Spot Carefully
Where will you sit for the interview? Will the lighting flatter your face and be bright enough? If possible natural light, like window light, is best as it’s the most flattering. Make sure there is not a glare or a distracting background. Position your camera so it is at a flattering angle and you’re not looking down and creating that dreaded double chin look.
In addition to the lighting, consider your surroundings. You probably don’t want to have a professional job interview from your bed. Sit at your desk or at a table with a plain wall behind you. Yes, you are at home and the interviewer knows this, but you should still strive to look like a professional who’s ready for the job. Your background in the interview has a lot to do with this.
4. Eliminate Distractions
When choosing a spot to have your interview, don’t forget about non-visual distractions. Your noisy neighborhood dog barking through the open window or your children playing in the backyard can make noise that detracts from the interview. While you can’t control unexpected noises, choose a location that avoids known distractions. Make sure you silence your phone or other computers that may send email alerts. You can always check your messages as soon as the interview is over. During the interview, you need to show that you’re fully dedicated to your new company and potential job.
5. Be Prepared When You Click the “On” Button
Before logging in to the interview, make sure everything is ready. Have your papers in hand, sit up, and put a smile on your face. Remember, your first impression matters, and you need to be sure it is a positive one, even in this online format.
If you’re feeling some nerves, take a moment to calm them. Preparing answers to common interview questions can help you feel less nervous. Consider practicing these in the days or hours before the interview so they feel natural.
If you’re nervous, make a conscious effort to slow down your rate of speech. People tend to talk too quickly in job interviews in general, but it seems to be more of a problem with online interviews. It can also be harder to hear in an online interview, so talking quickly could mean the interviewer can’t hear your meaning.
6. Log on Early
If you can, log on to Zoom or the interviewer’s virtual platform about five minutes before your interview is scheduled to start. This gives you time to work out your pre-interview jitters, and it also ensures the interviewer is not waiting on you. Remember, everything you do to look prepared will win you points, so being early is helpful.
7. Make Eye Contact
Talking to a computer screen can feel different than talking to someone in person, but you still need to make eye contact. However, this looks a little different for virtual interviews. Instead of looking at the person on the screen, look at your camera. This will appear like eye contact on the video.
This can be hard to do because it doesn’t feel natural to stare at a camera while talking to someone. To make it easier, you can place a picture of the interviewer or someone you know next to the webcam, and train yourself to look at the eyes on the picture. This will help your nerves while also helping you get that important eye contact. Also, remember to smile. You’re engaging with a real person, even though they’re on the other side of the screen, so your smile is important!
8. Pay Attention to Body Language
Body language plays a role in interviews, and this includes video interviews according to Robert Half, a national recruiting firm. Try to center your face on the camera and maintain good posture throughout the virtual interview. Do not rest your head in your hands. And try to avoid moving around too much which can make you look nervous. Lean forward toward the camera slightly to show interest.
Interviewing via video isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but these video interview tips will help you make the most out of this unconventional situation. If you’re looking for more training to prepare you for a future career in any industry, consider UTC’s Flexible MBA and 100% Online MBA programs. Both graduate degree programs are designed for either full time students or working individuals with a variety of undergraduate degrees and offer the knowledge and flexibility needed to propel your career to the next level.