Nearly half of all initial interviews begin virtually. This method of screening candidates saves the company’s time and resources while allowing them to interview more people to find the right person for the job.
If you have an upcoming online job interview you must follow the normal procedures for an in-person meeting, plus additional strategies to be successful.
Follow these 9 tips to ensure you make it past round one of a virtual interview.
1. Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Online job interviews may be in the comfort of your own home but that doesn’t make them casual.
Choose a piece of furniture that mimics how you would sit in an in-person interview. That means no lounging on the couch or propped up against a pillow on your bed.
Slouching appears lazy, unprepared, and informal. Sit up straight at a table so you can manage your laptop and notes easily. You don’t want your computer going lopsided or papers falling from your lap.
A professional setup also puts you in the mood to do business. Prepare your mind by acting like you just sat down in your future employer’s office.
2. Dress Like You Mean It
No matter where you sit for your digital interview if you are in sweatpants then you won’t take the interview as seriously as you should. Clothes affect your psychological mindset. So, put on the matching shoes and pants even though your interviewer won’t see them.
Making a great first impression will have the hiring manager envisioning you as their next employee. They may even forgive inadequate answers when they know you took the time to prepare for the interview by dressing to impress.
This applies to any job regardless of their normal dress code or even if you are applying for a remote job. Once you get hired then you can relax and dress according to the company standard.
3. Check for Technical Glitches and Upgrades
You may use an unfamiliar software or one that you have experience using. Regardless of your past use, go through the platform again to familiarize yourself with any new features. You may find that you need to create a new account or that you don’t know your current password. These issues shouldn’t be addressed right before your interview.
Other problems could occur with your sound, video, or internet connection. Most programs like Zoom and Skype have testing options to see if your sound is turned on. Check the volume and both the audio input and microphone output.
Do a test run of your video feed to ensure your picture isn’t pixelated or lagging. Have a backup internet option like your cell phone’s hot spot just in case your Wifi gets interrupted.
You also want to know how long do interviews last to make sure you have enough battery on your laptop. To be safe, charge it fully or keep it plugged in. Also, check how much free time is allowed on your platform. Zoom offers up to 40 minutes for free, which is about the average interview timeframe. So, plan ahead for extra minutes.
4. Choose a Neutral Backdrop
During your virtual job interview, you don’t want your interviewer gazing at your unique book collection or abstract artwork. Pick a room and a wall that has no distractions.
A white background is preferred to make your setting as neutral as possible. If your setting is too busy then your face will get lost as well as your words. You want all the attention on your skills, not your personal possessions.
5. Remove Distractions
Objects aren’t the only distractions. You want a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted by your children, pets, or the outside world.
To ensure your interview will be seamless shut off your cell network to avoid calls. Tell your children to watch a movie and give them a snack so they won’t ask you for a drink in the middle of the interview. Keep your barking dog out in the yard or ask a friend or family member to take him on a walk for the duration of the session.
Keeping your interview free from personal interactions shows that you are professional, and if you are going to work from home, that you are able to get work done in your current environment.
6. Pay Attention to Light and Camera Angles
The sound may work and the video is clear, but if you don’t have proper lighting then your interviewer might think you are hiding on purpose. This makes you look shy and decreases your confidence and professionalism.
Use natural light from a window if possible for the clearest view or try a white light that doesn’t change your complexion.
The angle of the camera also matters. No one wants to talk to someone looking down on them or with half of your forehead cut off. Place the laptop camera like you are taking a headshot. Your entire face should be visible and at eye level with the interviewer.
You also don’t want to be too close to the camera. Keep your shoulders and neck in the picture to ensure you aren’t too close to the screen.
7. Prepare Yourself With Common Questions
You don’t want to get caught off guard when you answer video interview questions. Before the interview, answer the most common questions and summarize them on post-it notes. Having post-its on your computer can only be used for online interviews so take advantage of them.
- What do you know about our company?
- What skills will you bring to the company?
- Why are you leaving your old job?
- Explain how you overcome a difficult situation in a previous job.
- Where do you see yourself professionally in 10 years?
- What do you consider your biggest strength and weakness?
Be sure to look at the company’s website to get a sense of the atmosphere, company goals and expectations, and staff personalities.
8. Pay Attention to Body Language
Getting nervous doing an interview is normal but you want to appear as confident as possible. Pay attention to how your body acts while speaking. You can check your habits by practicing beforehand and recording it.
You also want to read the micro-expressions of the interviewer in order to communicate with them effectively. You may be able to tell if they approve of your answer or notice when you need to move on from a topic.
9. Have Question to Ask the Interviewer
The interviewer isn’t the only one that should ask questions. Many employers expect you to show interest in the job by asking follow up questions. This shows that you have been listening during the interview and you are enthusiast about the job.
Some common follow-up questions include:
- What daily tasks are common in the position?
- When will you make your hiring decision and what is the next phrase?
- What are you looking for in a qualified candidate?
- Who will I be working with and on what projects?
Questions can be more specific if you have a particular question about what the interviewer said during the interview. However, these general questions can be used at the end of the interview to end the conversion.
Improving Your Online Job Interview Skills
The best way to ace your online job interview is to practice your communication skills. When you are naturally great at speaking then you are always prepared.