There's no question that interviewing is the most intimidating part of the process (I mean, we have a whole section on our advice site dedicated to interviewing tips). But what if you could do it from the comfort of your humble abode? COVID-19 has thrust employers into hosting virtual job fairs and virtual interviews as they continue to recruit and maintain a safe distance while finding new talent.
While virtual interviewing does not allow for some tried-and-true methods for making a good first impression, there are many ways to still wow your potential boss from behind a screen. Simply follow this guide to prep and perfect your video interview skills… because this could be the future of interviewing.
Preparation is Key
Be sure to do your research on the employer ahead of time! Hop onto LinkedIn and check out their profile, read reviews on Glassdoor from peers who have worked or interned there, and scope out recent news coverage of the organization for developments (this can usually be found on their “about us” page or through a quick Google search). The better equipped you are to ask thoughtful questions, the smoother your conversation will go throughout the interview.
Use this time to review your resume and the job description. Write down how your experience might help you exceed in the role. Having concrete examples and this information fresh in your mind will help you feel more confident during the video call.
Dress for success…even remotely
Make sure that you look polished and professional — at least up top. (The beauty of video calls is that nobody will know if you wear sweatpants with your blazer) Consider a button-up shirt or blouse, and be sure to groom just as thoughtfully as you would for an in-person meeting. Not only will this help you make a great impression with your interviewer but wearing clothes that make you feel confident will also help you get your head in the game! Check out this infographic for interview attire tips.
Think about your background
You probably would not invite your future boss over to your house if it were strewn with socks, right? So, don't let them see that on video! Find a clean, quiet area of your living space – preferably well-lit and neutral, like a wall or panel of curtains where you can take the call. Get your camera set to a flattering view. Be sure to speak with any housemates in advance and stow away your pets to ensure that nobody will walk behind you or make loud noises while you are in the middle of discussing your professional strengths and weaknesses.
Show up Early
Yes… this still applies AND is one of the easiest ways to start things off on the right foot. You do not need to log on 15-minutes early like you would when arriving for a traditional in-office interview, plan to enter the video chat about three to five minutes early. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, make sure that you have the correct software loaded (if necessary), and consider a test call a few hours before with a trusted friend to work out any kinks in your internet connection or with your audio. Most interviews will take place via tools like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, but there are many videoconference providers, so be prepared no matter which one you'll be using.
Make “eye contact” with the camera
If it helps, consider putting some googly eyes next to your webcam to remind you to look directly at it throughout the call. This gives the appearance of making eye contact, not distractedly staring at your screen! Making eye contact, even if through a laptop, helps foster a sense of genuine connection and attentiveness and can make all the difference when trying to hit it off with your interviewer.
**TIP: Make sure you let your interviewer know beforehand that you have notes and if you look down or away, it's because you are reading and/or taking notes – this prevents the assumption that you are not connecting with the camera**
Stay focused and visibly engaged
One way to show your interviewer that you are motivated and engaged is by practicing active listening. Limit your distractions and consider nodding your head to give affirmations of understanding while they talk and ask clarifying questions when necessary.
**TIP: Take hand-written notes! Keep a notebook nearby so that you can jot down questions or key takeaways from the interview without having to disrupt the flow of the conversation with loud typing. **
That is not all folks!
After you end your call, be sure not to “ghost” your interviewer. A virtual interview is still an interview. Send a well thought out professional “thank you” note to your interviewers. Check your email at least twice per day to stay abreast of any outreach or next steps that might land in your inbox! Check out 5 post-interview follow-up ideas.
With these tips in your sweatpants pocket, you will have all the keys to succeed in your virtual interview. Now all that is left is to find the right opportunity!