Due to the current pandemic, virtual interviews are becoming more common.
So how do you make a video call feel as personal and intimate as an in-person interview?
Below, 11 experts share their best tips to prepare for, and ace, a virtual interview.
Prepare and Plan
Preparing for a virtual career fair requires preparing, planning, and practicing to ensure you strike the right balance of confidence, competence, and conciseness. Have your resume on hand including accomplishment stories; Research participating employers in advance – know who you want to speak with and why; Practice your personal pitch and intro and keep it under 2 minutes; Prepare your environment by ensuring the right connectivity, lighting and eliminating any background clutter to ensure you are presenting yourself in the best light.
Never “Wing It”
As with anything, be prepared; do not wing it. Virtual career fairs should be taken just as seriously as if you are standing in front of an employer. Dress up, practice your answers with someone, and make sure you are in a quiet space before the interviewing starts. Also, make sure to meet with companies you are interested in and where your talents are aligned with their open positions. Be mindful not to waste anyone’s time with interviewing for positions you know you will not accept.
Body Language Matters
There are still ways to monitor your body language and use it to your advantage when interviewing remotely. Looking directly at the camera will give the illusion of eye contact. Making “eye contact” with the person interviewing you rather than watching them or yourself on the screen will make you seem more confident. Smiling, sitting up straight, and using natural movement while talking with your hands are all ways that you can control your body language during a virtual interview. Remember, they are on the other side of this virtual environment, so treat it as you would all conversations, and make the most of it!
Create a Distraction-Free Environment
Interviewing remotely can open the door to a plethora of distractions for both you and the interviewer. People or pets walking in and out, loud noises, or even a cluttered background can take away from the overall experience. Prior to starting your interview, make sure you find a quiet, distraction-free place preferably with a neutral background to set up your camera. Send roommates, family members, and even pets away for the duration of your interview to ensure that you are confident and focused, giving the interview your undivided attention.
Test Your Tech
There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with technological issues, especially when trying to complete an already nerve-racking interview process. Testing your technology long before your scheduled interview time is critical. Do a test call with a friend or family member to ensure clear camera visibility and microphone clarity. Double-check your internet connection and make sure your laptop is plugged in. Being tech-savvy is something employers look for in potential candidates, so struggling with your internet connection or video set up during your interview reflects poorly on your technological abilities.
You can’t expect a virtual interview to go off just like an in-person interview, so be considerate of the increased intimacy of sharing your faces through a camera and encourage trust by showing more personality through speech, vocal intonation, and facial expressions – knowing that body language may not translate as well in a virtual setting.
Tia Parker, Program Coordinator, Engagement and Professional Development
Prepare Your Technology
Prepare for a virtual interview like you would a virtual presentation. Be mindful of what’s in your background physically and auditorily. Make sure your internet is functioning and have your phone’s Bluetooth as a backup. Turn off all alarms, alerts, and any apps that make noise. Be early and have a notepad next to you to take notes. And show up the same way you would for an in-person interview – meaning don’t look like you just rolled out of bed.
Meagan DeMenna, Head of Marketing and Communications
Ensure You Have All Necessary Materials
Virtual interviews can have so many different factors to consider., Therefore, always make sure you are preparing in advance. Virtual interview preparation can include troubleshooting any potential computer or log in issues in advance, making sure you have the right computer equipment (ex. headphones), downloading the latest version of the app you will have to use (ex. Zoom or Skype), and ensuring you have the correct login information. Preparation can even include preparing how you will look on camera during an interview. Consider the lighting of the room, your background, and even what you will be wearing.
Remember It’s Still an Interview
The “new normal” perhaps? Please remember it’s STILL an interview. Dress the part, even if it’s just from the top up! Employers are paying attention.
LaTisha Griffin, Associate Principal of Operations
Have Your Camera at Eye Level
To be more authentic online, put your camera lens directly at your eye level, and have a normal conversation like you would if you were across the table from them in a coffee shop. Make it all as natural as possible.
Joe Harlan, International Consultant
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to prepare yourself for a virtual interview is simple – practice! Mock interviews are a great way to sharpen your communication skills and get comfortable in a virtual medium. If you are a recent graduate, take advantage of your career coach, and request a mock interview with him/her. If you are well into your career, ask friends or former colleagues if they would be open to conducting a mock interview with you. Listen to their feedback and ensure each interview is better than the last! Pro-Tip: Record your interview and review it afterward! You will learn so much from simply watching your own performance.