How To Prepare For & Ace A Virtual Interview
The prospect of a job interview can be nerve-wracking. With the world currently in the midst of a pandemic, having a traditional interview may be out of the question. With more and more employers turning to online technology, it’s highly likely that you may be asked to have an online interview rather than face-to-face. If the thought of meeting a potential recruiter over the internet is enough to bring you out into a sweat, fear not. We’re here to give you the very best virtual interview tips so that you can successfully ace your meeting and impress your potential employer. In this article, we’re going to show you the best practices for virtual interviews, including how to prepare for a virtual interview and what to do during and afterwards.
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL INTERVIEW?
Before we tell you how to ace a virtual interview, it helps to know what you’re getting yourself into. Essentially, a virtual interview is a video interview, meaning you meet your potential employer using digital technology, such as video conferencing and the internet, rather than having an interview in person. For this meeting to occur, a few tools will be required, including:
- A computer, laptop or tablet
- An in-built or external camera and microphone
- An internet connection
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A VIRTUAL INTERVIEW
A virtual interview follows the same process as a traditional job interview with a couple of things to bear in mind for using technology. Here are some handy tips on how to prepare for a virtual interview. Test your digital technology One of the best virtual interview tips is to make sure you test your technology before your interview. Not only will using technology show off your technical skills, it will also ensure your interview goes without a glitch. Test both your sound and visuals to check they’re working. Additionally, check your internet connection is working well.
As your virtual interview will likely require using your email or username, it’s important to stay professional by keeping them simple. Your potential employer probably isn’t going to be too impressed by any funny or jokey usernames. Simply using your first and last name is fine.
LIMIT ANY POTENTIAL DISTRACTIONS
One of the most effective tips for virtual interviews is to limit distractions. Try to conduct your virtual interview in a quiet room if you can. Also, move any clutter from behind you as this can give the impression that you’re disorganised. Keep your background as blank as possible to make you the focus. Take down any interfering photos or pictures to give your setting a professional feel.
DON’T SIT TOO CLOSE TO THE CAMERA
In a face-to-face interview you wouldn’t sit too close to your interviewer. So, in a virtual interview it’s advisable not to sit too close to the camera. You should be at a reasonable distance so the top of your body and head can fit on the screen. You may need to adjust your seat or use different seating than you normally would to make this happen. Have a play around with your setting beforehand to ensure you’re ready for action on the day of your interview.
DRESS FOR THE OCCASION
Our virtual job interview tips wouldn’t be complete without mentioning what to wear. Think of a virtual job interview in the same way as you would a normal job interview. Stick to one or two colours, avoiding clashing prints or anything too casual. Professional business attire is perfectly reasonable. While the employer is focusing on what you can do rather than your wardrobe, it’s still in your best interests to make the best first impression.
CHECK TO MAKE SURE THERE’S NO GLARE
One potential problem of virtual interviews is screen glare. This is caused by reflections from glasses, jewellery and watches which can be distracting for the interviewer. If you need to use eyewear, see if it is possible to move your lighting so it’s behind you rather than in front of you. Additionally, you could move your computer or change the angle of the screen. Ask your interviewer if they can see you and hear you properly at the start of your interview to be sure.
PRACTICE ANSWERS TO COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
There’s no way to 100% know what your interviewer is going to ask you. However, researching the company you’re interviewing for, as well as practicing common interview questions can help you to feel fully prepared. Some questions you may be asked include:
- “Why should we hire you?”
- “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
- “What are your salary requirements?”
Practice makes perfect. If you have a friend or family member to help you, you could do a mock interview with them to build up your confidence when answering questions about yourself.
Video interviews don’t need to be overwhelming. Here, we reveal some of the best practices for virtual interviews to follow to excel in that initial online meeting.
You wouldn’t arrive late to a normal interview so it’s important to show up early for your virtual meeting. Prepare yourself at least 15 minutes ahead of time. This will give you time to set your computer up, get ready to log in to any online platform, such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, or whatever video technology is being used. It will also give you time to relax beforehand so you’re ready as soon as the interviewer logs on.
GIVE A VIRTUAL GREETING
While you can’t give a physical handshake, you can greet your interviewer once you view each other online. Say hello, acknowledge their presence and wait for them to start the interview.
There are a few things you can do to convey confidence during your interview. Sit up straight and maintain eye contact throughout the interview. Ideally, your camera should be in the centre so that you appear in the middle of the screen. While it’s only natural to be nervous, try to smile during your interview to exude enthusiasm for the job.
It can be tempting to enhance your body language, particularly with the added layer of interviewing via a screen. However, when you are given time to speak during the interview, keep it natural. Recruiters will look at your personality in terms of whether you are a good fit for the job. Stay authentic by being yourself and sharing how your skills and expertise match the job role you’re interviewing for.
KEEP A GLASS OF WATER BY YOUR SIDE
One of the good things about a virtual job interview is that you’re in the comfort of familiar surroundings. If you tend to get a dry mouth during nervous situations or you’re worried that you may develop a cough while trying to get your words out, keep a glass of water on your table or nearby. You can also take a quick sip of water before your online meeting or when your interviewer is speaking.
Virtual interviews can sometimes make it more difficult for your interviewer to hear you, especially when you’re not physically in the same room. Remember to speak clearly without mumbling. Don’t speak too quickly as this will help you to avoid using too many fillers, such as ‘ahh’ or ‘umm’. Speaking slowly and clearly is particularly important if you’re not interviewing in your native language. Remember, you can always practice with a friend beforehand if it’s your first time using video technology.
SPEAK TO THE CAMERA
When you’re in a potentially nerve-wracking setting, speaking towards the camera may not be inviting. However, this will help you to keep eye contact with your interviewer in a virtual setting. Selling your skills on camera doesn’t come naturally to everyone so don’t worry too much about it if it’s not 100% perfect.
HAVE NOTES AT THE READY
The good news is that your interviewer is unable to see your desk or table where your laptop or computer is located. That means you can have a few notes with you to act as prompts. This is a good idea if you tend to get nervous or flustered during interviews. Simply write down a few one or two word notes to help prompt you if you become stuck. Don’t write an essay as you need to keep eye contact with your interviewer and avoid looking down for long periods. A quick glance at your written prompts will allow you to maintain eye contact without distraction.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Now the virtual job interview is over, it’s time to delve into what happens next.
Treat your virtual interview like a face-to-face meeting. Follow up with your interviewer around 24 hours after your initial online meeting. Send a straightforward email thanking them for their time. If you have any additional queries that you didn’t make in your interview, this is your opportunity to state them but keep it brief. Your follow-up email should be concise.
Waiting for the decision can be nail-biting. Regardless of the outcome, every interview is added experience which you can use in the future. Relax and keep calm as best as you can.
Now you know the very best virtual interview tips, you’re a step closer to getting that dream job position. Every successful interview starts with preparation. The more prepared you are, the more chance you have of getting that coveted job. Test your technology, prepare your setting and do as much research as you can on the company you’re interviewing for. Sell your skills with confidence. You’ve made it to the interview stage which means you already have something that the potential recruiter is looking for.
Contribution made by Oriel Partners.