According to Indeed, 82% of employers in 2022 utilize virtual interviewing software and almost all of those surveyed will continue conducting video interviews for the foreseeable future. Learning how to present yourself virtually is critical to your success in the job search process and looks different from traditional in-person interviews.
Some employers conduct live virtual interviews using Zoom or another platform, while others rely on pre-recorded interview questions, asking you to record your answers without any live interaction. Regardless of the particular platform, there are some essential things to keep in mind.
5 ways to set yourself up for success during a virtual interview:
- Research the company and gather your materials
- Prepare your space and plan your outfit
- Test the technology
- Focus on nonverbal communication
- Follow up after the interview
Research the company and prepare your materials
While you may be interviewing from the comfort of your home rather than a formal conference room, you want to prepare just as you would for an in-person interview.
Have a copy of your resume on hand and a pad of paper to take notes. Typing on your computer during the interview is discouraged, as is reading your notes like a script. While it may seem obvious, Googling answers to the interviewer’s questions live will not lead to success.
Prior to the interview, be sure to conduct research about the company and prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Your questions should be specific and not easily found online. For example, a good question is, “What has your company learned about talent retention from the Covid-19 pandemic?” A bad question is, “Where are you located?” or “How many people work at the organization?” You may also think of questions as the interview proceeds. Jotting them down quickly will help you remember them when it is time to ask questions. Asking relevant questions in the flow of conversation shows your emotional intelligence and adaptation.
Once you feel prepared, reach out to a family member, friend, or colleague to practice out loud. Writing out answers or practicing in your head is very different from verbally answering a question. If you are unable to find a practice partner, at a minimum, record yourself answering interview questions so you can gauge your preparedness.
Prepare your space and plan your outfit
Choose a spot (whether in your own home, a reserved room at a library, etc.) where you can focus. Make sure your background looks professional. Impeccable credentials and a stellar interview won’t get you very far with a pile of dirty laundry or a sink full of dishes in the background.
Minimize potential distractions by making sure your cellphone is off and windows are closed (both physical ones and any extra tabs on your computer). If you’re conducting the interview in your home where you reside with others, remind your roommates/family not to blast their music, watch TV at a loud volume, or call to you from the other room.
With a virtual interview, you don’t need to worry about traffic jams or getting lost on the way to the interview, but you still want to make sure you build in time to set up your space and technology the day of the interview and log on a few minutes ahead of time.
Being mindful of your appearance is also important. Consider wearing whatever you would to an in-person interview. Appropriate attire can vary by industry, so use your judgment, but if you are uncertain, it is generally better to err on the side of caution and dress on the more formal side. Some say you only need to be dressed professionally from the waist up. However, to avoid any potentially embarrassing moments (let’s say the pen you are using to take notes runs out of ink mid-interview and you decide to stand slightly to reach across the table to grab another one…), it’s advisable to ensure your entire body is dressed appropriately.
Test the Technology
First and foremost, ensure you have strong internet connectivity and a functioning microphone and camera. If you are using an unfamiliar platform, be sure to download it in advance and have a few practice calls with a friend or colleague. Even if you have previous experience with the software, you will want to test it out in advance. The last thing you want is to open Zoom or another platform moments before the interview and realize that you need to restart your computer to update to the latest edition.
Many of the platforms that use pre-recorded interview questions, such as HireVue, allow you to practice a few questions in advance. Since you cannot control all potential problems, you might still experience technical issues during your interview. But your goal is to prepare as much as possible to minimize any challenges and provide peace of mind.
Focus on nonverbal communication
It can be more difficult to convey your enthusiasm for a role with a virtual interview, but by paying attention to your body language, you can still communicate that message. Remain visibly engaged by maintaining eye contact throughout the introduction and interview. This demonstrates interest and focus. Smiles and head nods also convey interest and listening skills.
Even if you’ve decided to take the interview from your bed or couch (though not recommended), make sure to sit up straight. This exhibits professionalism and engagement with the conversation.
Follow up after the interview
Don’t forget to follow-up with a thank you note within 24 hours of an interview. You should write a customized email to each of your interviewers, thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in the role. Make sure to also touch on something you spoke about during the interview, whether a particular project or a shared interest. While this is not an essay, it’s an additional opportunity to show your value and personality.
In any interview – whether virtual or in-person – there are some elements outside of your control. You cannot choose your interviewer or predict the questions you will be asked. However, if you follow all of these tips, you can begin your interview feeling confident you did everything in your power to prepare.
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