These days, more and more interviews are happening over Zoom and Google Meet. Virtual interviews are unchartered territory for many job seekers, and the etiquette is still mostly undefined. One of the most common questions we’re seeing from clients right now is how to get ready for these virtual interviews. So, we’ve gathered up some of our best tips to help you make the best (virtual) first impression possible.
Tip 1: Choosing your equipment
Ideally, you’ll be able to take the meeting from a computer and not your phone. The hierarchy is as follows: computer, tablet, phone. If possible, avoid taking the interview on your phone, because it’s too easy to shift angles or present issues. The other benefit of using a computer is that you can plug directly into the internet and avoid WIFI. Having a hardwired connection will help reduce lag and give a clearer video. Too much lag, and you can miss essential questions, non-verbal cues, or worse, they might miss parts of your answers. If you’re using a computer, be sure to close your other programs, including email, messenger, slack, etc. so notifications don’t pop up and distract you. Headphones reduce background noise and make it easier to be heard.
Tip 2: Set the scene
Try to take the call in a quiet, distraction-free zone. Your lighting and background are essential. You want the light to come from in front of you so the hiring manager can see your face. Be aware of the things around you that the camera can see, and keep it neutral. It’s best to take the meeting in front of a plain or nicely decorated wall. Try to avoid using your bedroom if possible. If you’re tight on space, you can opt for a virtual background on Zoom, but stay away from the animated ones, and keep it professional.
Tip 3: Dress for the part
If you’ve been working from home for several months you may have gotten pretty casual with your clothes. For a virtual interview, you’ll want to dust off your professional wardrobe and dress for the job. Hiring managers have been reporting that interview candidates are dressing a bit too casually for these video interviews. Dressing up is an easy way to help you stand out amongst the competition. It’s best to wear solid colors because some patterns can be distorted by the camera and be distracting. While it seems obvious, don’t neglect the bottom half of your outfit. Be prepared because you never know when you will have to jump up and run across the room for something.
Tip 4: Test everything
The day before the interview, make sure you have the software downloaded, and you know how to use it. Technical difficulties can lead to anxiety and throw you off-kilter. For Zoom meetings, you can create a free account to practice using the tools, and even record yourself. Record a dry run the day before in the same way you plan to have the interview. Go through all the motions, including your chosen interview outfit, hair, makeup, and accessories. Spend a few minutes talking to the screen and practicing your responses to “Tell me about yourself.” This way, you can see how you’ll appear on the camera, make adjustments, and feel more confident on the big day.
Before your interview, make sure to have the phone number of someone on the hiring panel. That way, if you do encounter technical difficulties, you can reach out and let them know. This contact information will also help you follow up after the interview if you haven’t heard any news.
Tip 5: Bring your tools
There are some things to keep within reach for a video interview that will help you stay comfortable and focused. I always recommend clients bring water to in-person interviews, and a virtual interview is no different. Water is a helpful tool to give you a pause if you’re feeling flustered or if you start coughing. The second thing you want is a blank paper to take notes, organize your thoughts, or jot down questions that you would like to ask.
One benefit of a virtual interview is the ability to use notes. I don’t recommend keeping them on your computer, because the scrolling/reading can be noticeable to the hiring manager, and it can create technical problems. Instead, go old-school and use handwritten or typed notes. Post them on the wall behind your computer or put sticky notes on the edges of your screen. If you are using notes, they should be a couple of keywords or phrases to jog your memory, not paragraphs. The purpose is to glance over and get a quick reminder, not read a script to the hiring manager.
Tip 6: Rapport
The downside of virtual interviews is that it is more challenging to build a strong rapport with the hiring manager. At the interview, the hiring manager already believes you can do the job, or they wouldn’t be meeting with you. The interview serves two purposes for a hiring manager. First, to assess the skills from your resume, and second, to evaluate how you’ll fit into the organization. Look for opportunities before or after the interview to make small talk and learn more about the hiring manager. Be an active listener and try to find common interests to discuss. These conversations can help put you at ease and allows a bit of your personality to show through.
Are virtual interviews here to stay?
My prediction is that these types of interviews are going to be used for a long time. Virtual interviews are a cost-effective way to consider candidates further away and gather an interview panel across multiple sites. The pandemic has caused a massive shift in how people work, and many positions may never return to an office fulltime.
If you’re ready to start practicing for your next virtual interview, we can help. Our coaches are experienced at conducting virtual sessions and can often provide recordings of the sessions. To learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.