As COVID-19 lingers and keeps altering the way people and businesses interact, many companies continue to rely on virtual interviewing to support their hiring efforts.
To improve their chances at landing a job, applicants need to know and follow virtual interview best practices.
A virtual, or remote, interview is a job interview that is conducted using video technology. Instead of meeting in person, the interviewer and job candidate meet online using a video conferencing platform or app such as Zoom, Skype, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams.
9 tips for virtual interviews
The following nine tips will help you overcome some of the most common challenges of virtual interviews so that you can put your best virtual foot forward.
1. Test Your Tech
Familiarize yourself with the technology you will need for the interview. Test your tech—computer or smartphone, webcam, microphone, internet connection, app, etc.—at least a day in advance to confirm that everything is in good working order. Tech savvy is one of the competencies employers look for in new hires.
2. Set Up Your Space
Create an adequate environment and background for the interview. Use a clean, uncluttered, well-lit room. Consider using a simple virtual office or neutral background instead of a room in your home so that you are the focal point, not the background. Light yourself from the front so that you’re clearly visible. Place your computer or phone on a desk or table, not on your lap.
3. Dress for Success
Dress for a virtual interview as you would dress for an in-person interview. Dressing professionally will make you feel and look more confident and suitable for the job. It also shows you’re serious about the position. Avoid all white, all black, super busy patterns and flashy accessories. As with the background, you should be the focal point, not your outfit.
4. Minimize Distractions
Distractions are interview killers. Choose a room or location that is out of the way of other people and pets in your home. Inform your family or roommates that you and the room will be off limits during the time of the interview and ask them to keep the noise down. Turn off the TV, silence your cellphone and close windows to muffle street and traffic sounds.
5. Prepare in Advance
This is a basic interview skill. Research the company. Prepare relevant examples of your achievements, education and experiences. Rehearse answers for commonly asked job interview questions and for questions provided by the interviewer ahead of time. Make a list of questions you will ask the person interviewing you. Keep your notes handy.
6. Mind Your Body Language
Sit up straight; don’t slouch. Smile. Maintain eye contact (with the camera, not your image or the interviewer’s image on the screen). Set up the camera at eye-level.
7. Build Rapport
Stand out by establishing a personal connection with the interviewer. Come to the interview ready to discover and discuss common interests. Tell an interesting or funny story. Make yourself memorable—in a good way.
8. Be Authentic
You can be yourself during a job interview and still be professional. Focus on being authentic and expressive. The person interviewing you needs to determine if you are a good fit for the company’s culture. This is important for you, too, so that you don’t end up working in the wrong place.
9. Follow Up
Here again you get to treat the virtual interview as a standard job interview. Send a follow-up email within 24 hours of the interview, thanking the recruiter you for his or her time. Use this opportunity to share additional information and resell your expertise and strengths. This email shouldn’t be longer than two to three short paragraphs.
Basic Interview Skills Still Matter
In 2020, the Harvard Business Review watched and analyzed more than 500 virtual interviews, looking at recruiter and job candidate responses, length of interview, aesthetics (background, lighting, etc.) and participant engagement, among other factors.
Of the 72% of job candidates observed who didn’t receive job offers, about 80% seemed distracted, appeared to be reading from a script and failed to engage the recruiter in a meaningful way. Of the 28% of candidates who received job offers, about 90% had a strong virtual presence, displayed confidence and were able to communicate clearly and establish a natural rapport with their interviewers.
Following are some of the skills and behaviors that influenced whether or not an applicant got a job offer:
- Staying calm
- Looking at the camera
- Avoiding speaking too slowly or too fast
- Asking questions
- Finding common interests
- Being prepared to answer common job interview questions
During a virtual interview, conduct yourself in the same way you would in a face-to-face job interview. Double check the technology you’re using, choose a suitable background, limit distractions, prepare in advance and focus on having a conversation with the recruiter, not on providing robotic responses. Good luck!