Virtual job interviews became the new norm in a COVID-19 world. While a phone or video interview may not induce the level of nerves an in-person interview does, it’s still important to prepare as you would for a traditional interview. By having a strong command of platforms such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Skype and anticipating potential technical l challenges, you can focus on showcasing your best qualities.
If you’re in the process of job searching, this is a great time to brush up on your virtual interview skills and create a plan for troubleshooting any variables you may encounter. This guide will help you learn how to ace your next virtual job interview, whether it’s a phone or video conversation.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
You may not be traveling to a potential workplace or shaking hands with a future employer, but a virtual interview is just as important and real as an in-person one. Put your best foot forward by being personable, professional, and prepared.
Start by researching the company and role. Understand the company’s challenges and have examples of how you have handled similar issues in the past. Then, prepare for top interview questions and make a list of your own questions to ask an employer.
From here, you can conduct a mock virtual interview with a friend as a rehearsal and a way to test the platform you’ll be using. Ask for their candid feedback to help you improve and pay attention to your body language throughout the practice interview. While it may feel uncomfortable, video-recording a mock interview can provide invaluable feedback about how you come across in a virtual job interview.
2. Find the Right Space
Your video background is one of the first impressions you’ll make in a virtual interview. When you’re deciding where to set up for a virtual interview, focus on finding a quiet, clean, and well-lit space.
Even if you don’t have a designated home office, a neutral wall without distracting clutter will help keep the focus on you as a candidate. To ensure you have a natural, well-lit placement, position your light source behind your computer instead of behind you.
We’re all human and adjusting to the lack of clear boundaries between our work and personal lives, so it’s ok if your interview gets interrupted temporarily. But as your interview approaches, you need to be as prepared as possible and communicate with your household to avoid major interruptions. You can also cut down on distractions by clearing your desk, closing open tabs on your computer, and silencing your phone before an interview.
3. Test Your Tech
Technological glitches can throw off even these most tech-savvy of job interviewees. You can prevent these challenges by testing out the same platform, internet connection, and hardware you’ll use for your interview. By practicing with a friend, you’ll be able to determine how you look and sound over the platform.
Track any difficulties you encounter and try to address them with additional practice. The more at ease you feel with different platforms, the more you’ll be able to focus on relaying your talents and skills in your virtual job interview.
It may sound simple, but knowing video platform basics such as how to mute and unmute yourself or how to share your screen for an interview presentation will serve you well.
4. Dress to Impress
You’ve done your research, prepared thoughtful answers, and practiced on the interview platform you’ll be using. Now it’s time to dress as professionally as you would for an in-person interview. Yes, even for a phone or video interview!
Dressing up from head to toe will help give you a professional polish and boost your confidence leading up to the interview. You can look at a company’s social media channels to gain a sense of its dress norms and team members’ styles.
It’s a good idea to test out your attire on a mock video call to see how your clothing and accessories look on camera. Bright-colored and patterned outfits look sharp for an in-person interview but may be distracting over video. Also, check if your glasses give off a glare and adjust your lighting accordingly.
5. Watch Your Body Language
While there are fewer nonverbal communication cues in a virtual interview, eye contact and body language still play crucial roles. Start with good posture by sitting in your chair with your back straight, shoulders open, and feet planted on the floor.
It might be tempting to connect with your hiring manager by looking directly at them on screen, but remember to look into your webcam. This will allow you to more closely align with the interviewer’s eye level on the other end.
You can convey your excitement for the job by speaking clearly, naturally, and enthusiastically about the topics you’re passionate about. Remember to smile, nod, and use hand gestures that will add to your message.
6. Make a Backup Plan for Technical Difficulties and Interruptions
As a precaution, create an interview Plan B with your hiring manager in case anything goes wrong. By creating a backup plan, you’ll demonstrate your proactive problem-solving skills and be ready in case of technical difficulties or unexpected interruptions.
For example, you can take down a phone number to reach the interviewer in case your audio or video stops working. This will enable you to call the hiring manager and continue your interview via phone or reschedule for a later date.
Over-communicate with your household in advance about needing a quiet, uninterrupted block of time for your interview. Then, create a plan for yourself in case there’s an unexpected interruption outside of your control, such as a blaring siren whirling past or a sneaky toddler wandering into the room.
It will go a long way if you stay calm and collected while politely apologizing for an interruption. The mute button and chat feature on video calls are also a great help when the best-laid plans go awry.
7. Don’t Forget to Send a Thank You!
After your interview, the best way to stand out as a memorable candidate is to send a gracious, sincere, and professional thank you email to each person involved in the interview process.
There’s nothing like a handwritten thank-you note, but with so many workplaces shifting to remote work models, an emailed thank you is the timeliest way to reach your hiring manager. Ideally, you should send your thank-you note within 24 hours.
These templates will help you write a short, professional, and customized thank you email. In your note, highlight your enthusiasm for the role, reiterate how your talents and skills align with the job, and thank the interviewer for their time and consideration.
Lastly, be sure to use an engaging subject line, address the hiring manager(s) by name, and include your contact information in your signature line. With this thoughtful follow-up communication, you’ll leave a lasting impression and increase your chances of landing the job!