Virtual, or online, interviews are becoming increasingly common, allowing employers to reach a more diverse applicant pool. As companies expand across states and countries, or embrace a virtual workforce, this enables employers to find ideal employees, while offering job seekers more opportunities beyond their geographic location.
While many of the traditional interview rules still apply, keep the following tips in mind to help prepare for and ace your virtual interview.
Test Your Technology
Don’t wait until the day of your interview to set up your equipment. You’ll need a computer with camera and speakers, as well as a microphone to efficiently carry out a virtual interview. Make sure these are all in working order prior to your interview by checking you have an appropriate volume, as well as an angle to display a portrait view of your head and shoulders with clear view of your face. It’s a good idea to double check your internet connectivity as well to make sure your network is fast enough to handle the live feed of your interview.
While you should absolutely do everything you can to prevent any technical glitches on the day of your interview, stay calm if any do arise. Getting flustered may be more of a red flag to employers than a simple glitch – particularly for a role that requires technical expertise.
Stage Your Interview Environment
When setting up your computer and other equipment, take care to set up your virtual interview environment as well. If possible, set up your webcam so there is a blank wall behind you. If your home doesn’t allow for this, however, set yourself up in a professional looking environment. Think bookshelves or filing cabinets, and avoid things like posters or your unmade bed, for example.
Additionally, make sure any background noise is eliminated. Double check the television and radio are turned off before beginning, and secure pets and children so you don’t have any surprise appearances.
Dress the Part
Although you may not be physically in the interviewer’s office, it’s still important to dress professionally. Do your research into the company to get a feel for the culture and what is appropriate. When in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of more professional than not.
Watch Your Body Language
Let’s face it, interacting via computer screen can be awkward. But for this reason, it’s even more important to project confident body language. Show enthusiasm for what you and the interviewer are discussing, make eye contact and smile when appropriate. Try placing your hands or forearms on the desk in front of you and leaning slightly toward the computer screen, so your shoulders and face are squared within the interviewer’s frame.
Practice Makes Perfect
Enlist the help of a trusted adviser to help with a practice run. This could be a friend or a family member who will give honest feedback. Because it may not feel natural to participate in an interview this way, this will give you an opportunity to make yourself more comfortable and make sure you don’t appear too rigid. You will also have a chance to check your equipment and make sure you are well-lit and adequately seen and heard. Your adviser can also help you show enthusiasm and maintain a proper pace when answering questions.
Of course, in addition to all these, it’s still important to do your interview due diligence. Research the organization and have questions prepared to show your interest in the position and knowledge of the organization and industry. Rehearse potential responses and watch any verbal ticks – those dreaded “umms” and “ahhs.” And finally, be yourself. Your interviewer will be trying to get to know you, so let your personality shine through.
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