As technology is getting more advanced, virtual interviews have provided many employers with many benefits. Compared to the alternative of flying potential candidates to offices, virtual interviews are more cost effective and more convenient to set up. With the current COVID 19 pandemic placing restrictions on traveling and social distancing, virtual interviews are even more helpful and important. But for many of us who are used to face to face interactions, sitting in front of the computer can be intimidating. I want to share my top five tips to have a successful interview, from looking the part, body language, answering questions, and backup plans in case technology fails us.
So why is virtual interview tricky?
Virtual interviews or video calls allow the audience to see who they are talking to. In-person interaction is always ideal because it is easier for the speaker to convey emotional expression to their audience. And since they’re in a room together, they are more likely to stay attentive to the person they are talking to. Whereas phone interviews, even though we can’t see who we are talking to, we have access to our notes that we can refer to for questions. Video calls can be awkward, especially if the network is lagging, we’re more likely to be distracted by background noises and other things.
Dress for the interview
Although we are in the comfort of our own space, we shouldn’t be dressing like we are enjoying the comfort of our own space. A virtual interview is just like any other in-person interview, we want to dress the part. Business casual to business formal, putting in effort to look presentable will show the interviewer that we respect their standards even when we’re not in person.
Outline your resume
Like most interviews, the recruiter or hiring manager will ask questions relating to our resume. Rather than refering to my long resume during the video call, I like to write key points on sticky notes that I can easily refer to without looking distracted. These could be talking points that showcase our expertise or strong skillset, things we can talk about while staying concise.
Find a quite space and clean surrounding
I like to think of the background as a neutral canvas with myself being the main focal point and zero distractions for the interviewer. We want the attention on us while we are selling ourselves to the interviewer instead of them looking at the boycrush poster behind us. People can assume many things about us based on our external environment, and showing a polished surrounding will come across as organized and well maintained.
Finding a quiet place during our call is crucial, we don’t want our conversation to be interupted by loud barking noises, people arguing or talking loudly. If you do live in a busy household, I suggest asking your family or roommates to keep the noise level down during the interview as an act of courtesy.
Check your internet connections and have a backup plan in case
Usually before a video interview, recruiters will send setup information with software we may need to install or how to use the video chat. I recommend to test the video call tool that you will be using, it’ll help us setup our mic and internet connection. Don’t wait until 15 minutes before to set things up, like everything else, technology can smell fear. Save yourself from anxiety and breakdowns by preparing ahead of time.
I also recommend to find a backup phone number to call if the video call gets interrupted. It happens, technology is not always reliable so we should always have a plan B. Most often, the recruiter will ask us for our phone number just in case, so we may go from a video chat to a phone interview. The most important thing to remember is make it as easy as possible for the interviewer. The longer we can talk to them, the more chances we have to make a positive impression. Time is valuable.
Update your LinkedIn profile if you have one
In the event the video call fails, our interviewer may want to see what we look like, hence your LinkedIn profile. Make sure you have a professional looking profile picture so they can refer to. It may sounds crazy, but it happened to me in the past. My video chat failed five minutes into the call, luckily I dressed in business formal, which the hiring manager appreciated. When she went to my LinkedIn she was able to put an image to my voice, and saw that I had a professional headshot. Those two visual encounters worked together to present an image of a young professional that I wanted to convey, a consistent theme that I put together through my image and my resume.
Virtual interviews are here to stay, they save companies thousands of dollars a year. In a time of crisis like this, employers are relying on video calls to bring in the most valuable candidates. Technology is great, but not always consistent, so I hope I have offered some insightful workarounds. From preparing our talking points for easy access, dressing for the part, and visual presentation to impress our interviewer, these tips are things that I’ve used to help me land job offers in state and out of state.