How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview
Covid-19 has changed the way businesses conduct themselves. They are responsible for keeping their businesses and employees safe by following protocols established by the CDC and their state health departments. One of the ways they have changed is going from a face-to-face interview to virtual interviews.
To succeed at a virtual interview, you need to prepare beforehand, be on time, look your best, and leave a great impression. Career Savage understands the impact Covid-19 has on the way we work and live; we are here to help you with a survival guide to a virtual interview.
What is a Virtual Interview?
A virtual interview is an interview via the internet using platforms such as Skype or Zoom. As a potential employee, you should conduct yourself as though this is a face-to-face interview. Career Savage has put together a comprehensive checklist to ensure your interview is successful.
Virtual Interview Preparation Tips
Make sure you read everything the interviewer sends you, mostly the platform they plan to use to conduct the interview. Not all companies will use Skype, so; you want to make sure you have their platform downloaded. They will, most of the time, send you an invite, with detailed instructions, to the website they use. If you have trouble with their platform, don't hesitate to call them.
The best interviews are by informed people. Don't think for a second that the company hasn't done their homework on you. It would be best if you did the same, go to their homepage, read the "about" section to determine their goal, how the company started, and how long they have been in business. Also, check out their products page; this is important because I can guarantee they will ask you why you think they should hire you. If you familiarize yourself with their products, you will be better prepared to answer the question.
Practice Practice Practice
Practice makes perfect is not just another cliché. Stand in front of a mirror, get a family member, reverse the camera on your phone, and practice your answers. Many websites can provide you with basic questions that most interviewers will ask if you are new to interviews. Even if this isn't your first interview, it is still essential to practice. Not sure what to say during an interview? Career coaching is available at Career Savage.
Video Tips for Your Virtual Interview
You have made it this far in the job process, good for you. That means the company is interested in you. So, please don't blow it during the virtual interview. To assist you, we have put together a checklist to make sure you are successful.
Location is everything. I can't express enough the importance of finding a quiet, distraction-free space. Alert family members that you are not to be interrupted. Lock your door, and since pets are unpredictable, if possible, put them outside or ask a neighbor to watch them for an hour.
Your desk should be clean. Even though the interviewer can't see your desk, they can see your eyes being distracted by something on your desk. The only time it's okay to avert your eyes from the camera or screen is when taking a note. And when you feel something is important enough to write down, let them know by saying, "that sounds important, I'm going to make a note of that." Don't try to write verbatim because they will pause while you write so, make a quick note; one or two words should be enough to remind you of the subject.
Close all your programs on the computer that you don't need. Closing these apps will help you avoid temptation and will allow more bandwidth for streaming the interview.
Make sure that your background is neutral. It's hard to determine what will offend people, even if you need to move furniture, take down pictures, or hang a white sheet behind you. Make an effort to create a neutral backdrop; you'll be glad you did.
Ensure you have enough lighting. You don't want to be hiding in the shadows. The interviewer wants to see the person they are thinking about hiring.
If you don't have the equipment or the privacy needed, there are options. Check your public library and see if they have a private area where a virtual interview can occur. You can also ask a friend if you can use their computer or laptop. Worst case scenario, rent the needed equipment for the day. When you land the job, the cost will be worth it.
Comb Your Hair
Just because you're interviewing from your bedroom doesn't mean you get to wear your pajamas and show up with bed-head hair. It's crucial to dress as though you were going to meet them face-to-face. That also means; wear pants. If they have a dress code, adhere to the code.
An online interview is slightly different from an in-house interview. During the virtual interview, when speaking, look directly at the camera. Looking into the camera is the same as looking into the eyes of the interviewer. However, when they are talking, shift your gaze to the screen. Looking at the screen lets them know they have your full attention. It doesn't hurt to smile and nod when appropriate.
Sit up straight with your shoulders back. When you slouch in your chair, you give the impression that you're bored, don't care, or tired. Also, while sitting, keep your hands on your desk or in your lap. If you are someone, like most of us, who articulates with their hands, keep them close to your body. Avoid fidgeting, such as letting your gaze drift from the interview or swiveling back and forth in your chair.
Be Ready for the Unpredictable
Few things in life go according to plan, so be ready for anything and everything. Remember, you are working with a computer, and things go wrong when least expected. Here are some tips for when things go sideways.
Video freeze is probably the worst scenario, and even though it calls for a need to panic, don't. Before you start the interview, check your internet connection. The average home has 11 devices linked to WIFI and ethernet cable. Walk around and disconnect everything that you don't need for the interview. If possible, use an ethernet cable directly connected to the internet, allowing for an uninterrupted signal. Perform an internet speed test; I use Speedtest. Still, you can use the one provided by your ISP (internet service provider). Even after all the preparation, ask for a phone number you can call to continue the interview if things don't go as planned. They will understand and appreciate your efforts.
Since you can't stop the world from turning while you are interviewing, you need a strategy for outside disruptions such as dogs barking. Or the trash man that decides to compact in front of you home, lawnmowers, etc. These things happen, and it's not ideal; however, you can use these distractions to show the interviewer how you handle an unexpected situation. Smile and apologize for the interruption and ask them to wait until the noise has ended. If the noise is severe, let them know you will mute the mic for a few moments, they will appreciate the gesture.
If someone ignores the do not disturb sign on your door, like a little brother or sister or a pet, and walks in on your interview. Apologize for the interruption, let the interviewer know you will mute the mic and excuse yourself while taking care of the problem. Get back as quickly as you can to the interview, apologize again, and continue as though nothing happened. There is no reason to be embarrassed. Anyone hosting a virtual job interview knows these things are going to happen more often than not. They will not hold the unpredictable against you.
As with any interview, follow up with an email thanking them for taking the time to interview you. This simple act goes a long way and could be the deciding factor between you and someone else.
All of this may seem like a lot of effort for an interview, and it is. Remember to treat the interview the same as meeting in person. Be on time, dress accordingly, and make a great first impression by following the guide.
If you are in need of Career guidance, Career Savage has plenty of resources to help. Visit the “Book Now” page for more information.
Until next time, stay Savage.