03/17/2020 by Carney Sandoe Staff | Landing the Job
Virtual Interview Tips for Job Seekers
The ability to shine in a virtual interview requires some skills and savvy beyond basic job interview best practices. Even if you’re a tech-savvy person, you should prepare as thoroughly for virtual job interviews as you would in-person meetings. Conversely, if you have years of traditional interviewing experience under your belt, don’t get too anxious about video interviews or view them as scary.
With some practice and the right mindset you can put yourself in a position to shine. In this post, we explain how to properly prepare and stage every facet of the video interview to give you the best chance possible.
Set your virtual interview station up in a professional-looking setting. Be aware of what the people on the other side of camera will be seeing; put away anything around and behind you that is distracting. If you have a home office or more formal space, that is preferable to doing the interviews from, say, your kitchen or couch.
Check your lighting. Make sure you have a lamp or other light behind your screen, pointing toward you, and that you don’t have too much light behind you.
Make sure other devices are off or silenced, and that any alarms, notifications (like email!), or animals won’t be a problem. Headphone can help mitigate background noise.
Set up early. Give yourself at least an hour to prepare and make the appropriate tests. If you are a bit nervous for the interview, don't add on any more stress with technology that isn't functioning properly.
Make sure you are using the most recent version of the video chat software. Run any outstanding updates and restart your device.
If the video software includes an avatar or profile photo, make sure it is appropriate and professional.
Have your computer charging so that you don’t have to interrupt the process to charge. Have a backup iPad or computer up, running, and ready to go in case of any glitches.
The camera should be higher than you may think. You don't want to be looking down at your interviewer. Put your computer, tablet, or phone on something sturdy to bring the camera to eye level or slightly higher.
Take some time to practice your virtual presence. Ask yourself a question and answer it while recording, then listen and watch. Pay attention to the visual as well as the sound, and make any necessary adjustments. Consider testing your setup with a friend or relative for their feedback.
Hearing an echo? Wear headphones. Any headphones are fine; earbuds are nice since they don’t distract from your face. Note that this might take a bit of communication between you and the interviewer: if you hear an echo, they need to wear headphones, but if they hear an echo, you need to wear headphones.
Don’t overload your internet with other background tasks, as this can result in poor video quality. Close any unnecessary programs, specifically those that are using your internet.
Appearance and Self-Care
Dress as you would for a normal interview, however be mindful of prints or bright colors that might be distracting over video. It might be tempting to wear shorts or pajamas on the bottom, but we don't recommend this. While you want to be comfortable, you also don't want to take away from the seriousness and professionalism of the interview…not to mention what would happen if you did need to get up and step away during the conversation!
Be prepared with a water bottle, mug, or glass sitting next to you. If you know your interview is going to last a few hours, have a snack ready and out of view so you can take full advantage of any breaks without needing to spend time digging in your cabinets or refrigerator.
Make sure you are in a comfortable space where you can sit for an extended period of time. Have a blanket nearby if you tend to run cold, or a fan in the distance if you are in a warm location. Just make sure the fan can't be heard through the video.
During the Interview
Look at the camera, not at yourself, so the interviewers feel like you are looking at them. A neat little trick is to put a sticky note or sticker next to the camera as a reminder.
Smile when appropriate and maintain “eye contact” with your interviewer as you would in an in-person setting.
It's ok to have a copy of your resume nearby to reference during the interview or refer people to, but don't rely on any other notes such as a list of responses to common interview questions. You'll be too tempted to look away from the camera for an extended period of time and it will be noticeable that you're reading from notes.
It is also ok to take notes during the interview (you can even let your interviewer know you are doing so) and to have some questions for the interviewer written down on paper.
What other tips do you have? Let us know in the comments!