The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the world! Although virtual interviews are not exactly new, in the professional world, they’ve definitely become more common than ever before. So if you’re currently job hunting, it’s only a matter of time before you end up in a virtual interview yourself. This might be the best chance you get to make an impression – and you want it to be the right kind of impression.
No one wants a lagging laptop, faulty camera, or any other technical errors during an interview. Not only will these disrupt – or, worse, end – the conversation, but your prospective employer could decide you’re unreliable, or at least poorly prepared. To avoid this, test your tools, check your internet speed, and find out what video platform you’ll be using, beforehand. An excellent tactic is to ask a friend to help do a trial run of the whole setup, making sure they can hear and see you remotely.
Get your surroundings ready. Set your interview in a space free of human traffic and noise, so you can hear and be heard – and so your interviewer isn’t treated to the sight of your housemate, drifting around with bed hair. You don’t want your background to be cluttered, dirty, or distracting, because you want the focus to be on you. You can use the opportunity, if you like, to display a poster or other decor that shows off your personality and positive attitude, as long as it’s work-appropriate.
Whatever the setting, your goal in a job interview is the same – to convince your interviewer that you’re the right person to do the job and represent their company. So keep that in mind when planning your attire, and get everything spotless, wrinkle-free, and ready, at least a day before the actual meeting. And don’t be tempted to wear shorts, just because you think you won’t be seen from the waist down – you might need to stand, and anyway, if you feel more put-together, you’ll act that way.
You’ll be doing the interview online, which means your interviewer can assume you’ve had the means to learn everything that’s available about the company online. If you didn’t bother to do a simple Google search, you’ll definitely come across as lacking in interest and initiative. So do your homework – read their company profile, history, culture, and especially the description of the job you’re applying for. You’ll be able to not just answer questions, but tailor your answers to fit their framework.
You don’t need to memorize everything you research, but reading off your notes may make you sound robotic and unnatural – and don’t think your interviewer won’t notice you looking off to the side of the screen. Instead, learn two or three important things by heart, and neatly write or print out the rest, in an order you can quickly refer to. Don’t be afraid to say, “Oh, I know I wrote that down. Just excuse me for a second while I check my notes.” This can even make you look more prepared and confident.
The point of any interview is for the recruiter to observe you for a period of time, both on- and off-guard. So don’t turn that camera off – it’s distracting and unprofessional and, worst of all, can look like you have something to hide. You might want to practice this with a friend, as well, so that you’re not doing it for the first time during the interview itself. You want to maintain eye contact, look alert and interested, and appear relaxed and natural – but not too relaxed, either!
Remember, your interviewer probably hasn’t been doing this for years, either. So it may be up to you to make sure that all the bases are covered, and all your best attributes are highlighted. Make a short list of the things you absolutely want your employer to know about you, as well as the most important questions you’d like to ask. Virtual interviews are new enough that steps can get skipped – avoiding this isn’t just beneficial on its own, it also showcases your responsibility and work smarts.
Acing a virtual interview is a fairly new challenge in getting hired, but common-sense steps and preparation can go a long way toward getting your foot in the door at the job and company you want. It’s all about presenting your best self, in the best way.