With so many companies and job seekers following virus safety protocols, virtual job interviews are on the rise. A virtual interview is an interview conducted by remote means where the interviewer and interviewee can see and talk to each other with video and audio. Virtual interviews may be done using various software programs and in a format similar to in-person interviews. That said, there are few tips to consider:
1. Test Your Technology
Technology advancements allow employers and candidates to connect even in this time of COVID-19 and social distancing. Unfortunately, that also means that technology is another communication issue that you have to overcome to make sure your message is received clearly by those conducting the interview. To do this, make sure you have a strong and stable Wi-Fi connection that will not fail in the middle of the interview. Also, make sure that your device is fully charged or that you have an alternate power source ready. Portable power banks or nearby electrical outlets with a cord you can reach will be a life-saver in those situations.
2. Remove Distractions
With so many job seekers applying from home, removing distractions can be difficult, but it is important to limit them as much as possible. Find a quiet place in your house, like a bedroom or dining room, where you can control the noise and traffic during the interview. Try to control background noises like the sound of the television, music playing, and other conversations in the house. Control house traffic by limiting access to the room by others including family, roommates, and your favorite pet. Even though your interviewer may have had to handle these issues in their own lives and may be understanding about yours, it changes the rhythm of the interview, and you may not leave as favorable an impression as you would have otherwise.
3. Focus on the Interviewer
Remember that even though the interviewer is not in the room with you, she can still see you so look at her during the interview. You may think you are looking at the interviewer in the eyes, but if your device is not positioned properly, the interviewer may actually see you as either looking down or to the side. Position your computer, tablet or phone, so that it is at your eye level with the camera in front of you. This can be done by sitting the device on a stable stack of boxes or books to raise the device. Some computer users have found that putting an item like a small post-it or sticker next to the camera on the device helps give them something to focus their eye on so it appears as if they are looking at the interviewer instead of off to the side.
4. Dress Professionally
Virtual job interviews are still job interviews, so show the interviewer respect. Dress as professionally as you would for an in-person interview at the company. This not only shows that you are taking the interview seriously, but it can also help put you, as the interviewee, in the right frame of mind.
5. Preparation is Key
Do as much research on the company as you would with any other interview. Having information from their website on any recent new releases, product innovations, or new company location openings shows that you are truly interested in what the company is doing as well as helps you see how you may be a good fit. Be ready with your elevator pitch so that you can highlight your “good fit” skills in that 30-90 seconds. Have you searched the internet for common interview questions and prepared your answers for them? If not, do that before the interview. Practice your answers so that they feel natural to you and do not sound rehearsed when you say them to the interviewer. Lastly, have a few questions ready for the interviewer. You will not be able to ask them all, but questions like “What are the next steps?” or “How is success measured in the first 90 days at this job?” shows interest in the job and provides helpful insight into the company’s hiring and evaluation process.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
Nothing beats practice when you want to make a good impression during a virtual interview. Conduct a test run by looking at the camera in selfie mode to see how you appear on the screen. Before doing so, check your lighting. Are you backlit with a window or light behind you so the interviewer will only see a shadowy profile? Do you have a bright light in front of you so that your image is bathed in light and you appear washed out? In general, lighting should be slightly above and in front of you and just off to the side. Next, check your background. Is it too busy or distracting with clutter, or is there a running ceiling fan reflected in the shiny items on your bookcase? Are you using a virtual background that fades out around your image as you move in your chair? Organize the visible area, so only a few key items are present and the distractions are minimized. Virtual backgrounds are nice if you can get them to work correctly. Be sure to test if the background is best for your interview. Lastly, check your body language. Remember that just as in an in-person interview, posture is important, so sit up straight, make eye contact, and be conscious of things like crossed arms or blank stares. These non-verbal cues can speak louder than your words.
Follow-up is a very important step. It is the first step you take after the interview is completed. Since this interview is remote, follow-up is also done remotely. Handwritten notes are generally the most memorable way to follow-up, but email is very acceptable and quick. A thank you note should be sent to each interviewer. This is a great chance to remind them of your interest in the job and highlight any qualifications you mentioned in your interview that make you a good fit for the position.
Use these tips to help make your virtual interview comfortable for you and the interviewer. The more at ease and memorable you are, the better your chances to get an offer for the job you desire. Good luck with your job search.
 Proverbs 27:17
Author: Sharon Daniels-McCabe