Companies have been forced to adjust to the pandemic over the past year—and that includes holding online interviews rather than in-person interviews. While restrictions are starting to ease, some businesses are continuing to conduct job interviews online. When you’re in the market for a new job, it’s important to know how to impress prospective employers during these interviews. The following tips can help you prepare for an online interview, so that you stand out from the competition.
1. Check Your Technology
Before your interview, take time to check all of the technology you’ll be using to ensure that it all works properly. This includes testing the video chat program you’ll be using as well as your webcam and microphone. Testing these technological components ahead of time allows you to focus more on the interview, since you’ll have a lower risk of encountering errors, glitches, or other problems.
2. Have a Backup Plan for Glitches
No matter how much you prepare, you might experience unexpected glitches during your online interview. Having a backup plan in place can help you expertly handle these glitches and continue with your interview, which can help you make a good impression on your interviewer. Your backup plan might include having a hot spot ready in case you suddenly lose your internet connection.
3. Choose the Ideal Location for Lighting
When you’re deciding where to have your online interview, choose a place in your home that provides the best lighting. For example, having sunlight streaming through a nearby window could cause too much glare depending on how it hits your webcam. You should also avoid sitting in an area with lighting that’s too dim. Choose a room or area with the right amount of lighting, and keep in mind that you can adjust the lighting settings on your webcam if needed.
4. Reduce Background Noise
Background noise is another factor to consider when you’re preparing for your interview. Making sure you have a quiet area for it can help ensure that your interviewer is able to hear you clearly. This prevents you from having to repeat yourself or ask the interviewer to repeat what they have said. Clear communication is an important part of making sure your interview goes smoothly.
5. Tidy Up the Background as Needed
When you’re setting up your space for your interview, make sure the background isn’t cluttered, messy, or distracting. You’re aiming to make a great impression on your interviewer and come across as professional, so try to choose an area with a plain or tidy background. Check your webcam to see how the room or area behind you will look during your interview ahead of time. You should also avoid using a virtual background, especially if it has an unprofessional appearance.
6. Remove Distractions
Standing out from the competition during your interview involves doing what you can to lower the risk of interruptions or distractions while it takes place. Depending on your living situation, this might mean putting pets in a separate room or making sure kids or younger family members are occupied in another room, so they won’t interrupt. If you’re sitting close to a window, keep it closed during your interview to block outside noises.
7. Choose the Right Chair
As you get ready for your online interview, consider what you’ll be sitting on. Avoid sitting in an armchair or on the sofa. Although this type of seating might be more comfortable, it can also look unprofessional and cause you to sit slouched. Sit in a desk chair, dining room table chair, or kitchen chair, since these make it easier to ensure that you’re sitting up straight. If you’re in an adjustable chair, change the height as needed. If not, make sure your laptop, tablet, or other video device is at the right height for your interview. You should be able to look straight at the camera rather than looking down at it.
8. Practice Answering Interview Questions
Going through a set of common questions can help you prepare for online interviews. Being familiar with these questions can help ensure that you answer them confidently during your interview rather than having to take time to come up with responses. Examples of these questions include “why do you want this position” and “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”
9. Research the Company
Taking time to learn about the company you’re interviewing with is a crucial part of making sure you’re fully prepared for your online interview. Knowing the company’s history, mission, products or services, and other relevant information can help you connect better with your interviewer. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to ask questions or make comments showing that you have a strong interest in the company.
10. Come Up with Questions to Ask the Interviewer
After researching the company, write down some questions to ask. Your online interview is likely to include being asked if you have any questions for your interviewer, so it’s best to be prepared instead of trying to think of them on the spot. For example, you might ask what types of projects you can expect to work on or what the company’s plans are in the next few years.
11. Dress Professionally
Even if you’re doing an online interview from the comfort of your home, you should make sure you’re dressed in a professional manner. Doing this shows that you’re taking the interview seriously and that you’re willing to put in the effort to look professional despite being at home. This is a simple way to make a favorable impression on interviewers.
12. Have Materials Handy
Keep materials you might need during your interview close by, so you don’t have to stand up to reach them. You might want to have a notebook and pen near you in case you want to write down notes during the interview, for example.
13. Get Started Early
Avoid waiting until a few minutes before your interview to have your device up and running. Open your video chat platform or software early, so you can ensure that you’re ready to start your interview right on time. Starting early should also include checking your internet connection to make sure it’s working.
14. Practice a Relaxation Technique
Being relaxed during your online interview can help you stand out from your competitors. Practice taking deep breaths to help you feel calmer before your interview. In addition to feeling less stressed, you’ll be able to focus more and come across as more confident.
15. Do Test Runs with a Friend or Family Member
Going through practice interview sessions with a friend or family member can help you prepare for your actual interview. These test runs also allow you to gain more experience with the video chat platform or software you’ll be using. During these interviews, watch your body language and practice making eye contact with the other person.
16. Use a Wired Connection
Consider plugging in your device with an Ethernet cable for a wired connection rather than a wireless one. This might help reduce the risk of having your online interview lag too much. If possible, use an Ethernet cable for a smoother connection, especially if your internet connection isn’t always reliable.
If you’re exploring your options for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, please contact University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. At UTC, we offer an online MBA program or a flexible option that allows you to attend in-person classes and online classes.