2021 has confirmed that we will still be working online for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t stop life and work opportunities from happening! More businesses are turning to a virtual interview system when hiring new employees. It has similarities to in-person interviews, but there is a learning curve to presenting yourself and your hireable qualities through a screen.
Here is a fool-proof list to prepare you for everything you need to know about virtual interviewing, with a couple of handy tips thrown in.
First things first, why are virtual interviews different to in-person?
Screens aren’t people
During a conversation, we all have little cues that are signs of active listening, encouragement or curiosity. When we see these, they subconsciously affect our confidence and delivery. One of the most important cues is eye contact. And through a screen, that can be more difficult than you think. We find it more natural to look at someone’s face than a camera lens but that means they aren’t truly making eye contact—it will always be a little unnerving.
Body language gets a miss
Body language is another important cue we use while we talk but is often neglected during online videos. It’s natural to gesture and use your hands as you speak, but it can feel awkward sitting at a desk or in front of a computer. Online also means you don’t get to show your enthusiasm through firm handshakes and formal introduction ,but you can make up for these through your demeanour and presentation.
Technology never behaves
It’s no secret that technology never works right at the most important times. Interviews are the first impression you give to prospective-employers so choppy internet, out-of-sync audio or no video may not be your fault but it will reflect poorly on your preparation.
So how do you make sure none of these virtual issues will throw you off your game?
Tip 1: Prepare like you normally would
A virtual interview is still a normal interview. You have to show off your personality and skills to convince the employer to hire you. Things such as preparedness, punctuality and persuasion still apply. Instead of scheduling your commute to arrive ten minutes early, do the same with your technology. Check your sound, screen and connection before the interview time to make sure your first impression is strong.
As always, make sure you dress to impress. Despite the fact a prospective employer will only see the top half of you, we have also seen the Zoom-fails where people forget what they are wearing. Make sure you look presentable and respectable from head down, no matter how comfortable your slippers are.
Tip 2: Sticky notes are your new best friend
Sticky notes are amazing for two reasons. Firstly, they are great prompts that can have bits of information you might need during the interview. Write some key dot points on a couple and stick them on the surface behind your computer. You can quickly glance at them for a nice refresher or reminder throughout the interview.
Secondly, they can help your eye contact. A great trick is drawing a smiley face or a ‘look here’ message on a sticky note and placing it directly above your computer camera. When you look at that, it will make sure you are looking at the camera and not the screen which improves your eye contact.
Tip 3: Background and lighting need attention
Be wary of your background. Bits and pieces in the background of virtual calls can either be a fun conversation starter or a red flag, but either way, it is an indication of your personality. So make sure whatever can be seen behind you is neat and tidy with nothing too personal in the frame.
Similarly, there is nothing worse than an employer not being able to see your face. Do some pre-planning and check the light of your virtual interview space at the same time the day before. Add a lamp or a curtain to make sure it’s bright but soft.
Tip 4: Be aware of audio delays
There is nothing worse than a two-second delay on a video call which makes everyone accidentally talk over each other all at once. Be aware of leaving a little gap after someone has stopped speaking. A small delay is better than two people talking and then apologising back and forth for the next few minutes. Another way to help this is using headphones. Audio will be transmitted quicker through a microphone close to your mouth, rather than the one in your computer. Headphones will also give you better sound quality so they are a win-win product to use.
Tip 5: Do you research
You should always do a little bit of research before stepping into an interview, but COVID-19 means you should do a little more than usual. Make sure to research how the company has been dealing with the pandemic. What are their policies for office and WFH hours? Have they been providing extra technology for those in home offices? How have they innovated and evolved during the pandemic? Did they experience lay-offs and what is their long-term plan?
These questions will provide some key insights into how this company treats their employees in uncertain times and whether they have been thinking seriously about a COVID future. You may be surprised at the ways some businesses have been responding so make sure you get informed before accepting any new position.
And that’s it! Making yourself a checklist with these little tips will help you nail your virtual interview. Be confident in yourself, don’t forget to breathe and make sure to smile every now and then. They are going to love you.