Ok I’m sure we can all agree that interviews are not fun. Working up the courage to convince a panel of people that you’re the right candidate for a job, can be downright nerve racking causing even the most prepared person to lose their grounding and fall off course. Now, as if a regular interview wasn’t difficult enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into the mix, transitioning most, if not all, employers to a virtual interview process to screen job candidates while maintaining safe and healthy social distancing. So not only do we have to be concerned about being prepared to answer interview questions, we also have to hope and pray that our WIFI connection can hold up throughout the call, our quarantined family (four legged friends included) don’t interrupt in some way and that we don’t look crazy delivering our elevator pitch to a camera, as opposed to actual people. Being on video is already an awkward hurdle to work through, but it should not be the reason why you don’t make a good first impression. Considering these changes, I’ve provided a few tips below to help you make a seamless adjustment to the new world of virtual interviewing that is likely here to stay for some time.
1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
A virtual interview may appear quite different from a traditional in-person interview, but, at the end of the day, these differences only stem from context. A virtual interview is still an interview with the intended goal of you being the selected candidate for a job. So, my first tip is to prepare just as you would for a regular interview, but also prepare for the variations that stem from a virtual video call.
These preparations should include completing a mock virtual interview ahead of time, if possible. Completing a practice round beforehand can help you to get comfortable being on camera so that you won’t be blindsided on the big day. This can also allow you to get feedback on your sound and video quality, in the event you may need to use an alternative laptop or make changes to your current laptop before the big day.
On the day of the interview, I would also recommend setting up at least 30 minutes in advance. Ensure that all your equipment is in good working condition and, if you have a presentation to share, ensure that you are all set to share your screen. I would also recommend calling in to the interview at least 5 minutes before the start time. Being tardy is also unacceptable in the virtual world, and I cannot count the amount of times my laptop has failed me as I’ve tried to access a video call. Give yourself time to work out any technical kinks.
2. Dress Appropriately
Please be sure to dress business formal for your virtual interview. When I say business formal, this should apply from head to toe, don’t fall into the trend of just dressing the top half of your body. You never know whether you may need to stand during the interview or whether your camera angle may capture below your top half. Although it may feel odd to get fancy in your home, you have to treat this as you would an in person interview and business formal attire will show how serious you are.
3. Prepare for Technical Difficulties
I believe that the scariest part of a virtual interview is the unpredictability of technology. Because Murphy’s Law is still a thing, a computer that was purchased the day before an interview could randomly crash during your introduction or your WIFI that has proven strong and secure for years, will undeniably choose your moment of virtual prowess to have its first glitch. Therefore, you have to be prepared ahead of time for any and every technical difficulty possible.
Prepare for a laptop breakdown or WIFI glitch by having a backup number to call in to the interview. Most videoconferencing services have an alternative call in number for attendees. Have this number written down or even stored in your phone so that you can immediately call in if your video call fails. I would also recommend downloading the videoconference app on your cellphone. Even if your WIFI has failed, you may be able to continue using video through your mobile data. Therefore, have the app with the interview details already queued up on your phone for a backup virtual call in.
If you have a presentation during the interview, I would recommend sending a copy to your panel beforehand. This would be handy if your laptop fails, and you are unable to screenshare. Also, be sure to have a printed copy of the presentation with you so that you can pick up right where you’ve left off if you have to call in instead.
Don’t be alarmed if you have technical issues. These types of issues are unpredictable and almost inevitable. In fact, I’ve had technical glitches in a Skype interview in the past and ultimately I still got the job. What is important, is your ability to recover and not get thrown off of your presentation.
4. Select a Quiet Location
Select a quiet location for your interview, especially if you are quarantined with other people and/or pets. Find a quiet area in your home with a non-distracting background to complete the interview. If this isn’t possible, wear headphones to shut out background noise and notify the panel beforehand about the purpose of the headphones. Alternatively, seek out a library or quiet coffee shop as your interview setting if that is an option.
5. Stay Focused
Don’t lose focus throughout the interview. Not being in a traditional setting may understandably cause things to seem more casual. However, don’t forget that this is still a professional exercise and even if your interviewer is dressed in PJs, you must maintain professional decorum throughout.
Hope you land the job!
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