In the current climate virtual interviews have become the norm, so it’s vital that you know how to be at your best. Here are our top tips.
1. Practice with virtual interview technology
There are many different video software options out there which all work slightly differently so it’s vital that you find out which software is going to be used and try it out well in advance of your interview.
Common systems used for live interviews are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google hangouts, Skype. Download the software onto your computer or mobile phone in advance. Make sure your webcam and audio works. Have a practice by setting up a call with some friends, or other Careers Springboard members. Test out the features of the software e.g. the ‘chat’ facility, how to share your screen in case you need to present slides, how to change your view of the people on the call.
You may find that headphones help you hear the audio better. You can buy a headset with a microphone, or some headphones which come with mobile phones have a microphone on the lead.
There are also a number of systems that are used for pre-recorded interview questions. A candidate answers pre-defined interview questions, then the recordings of these answers are reviewed later on by a recruiter. This approach allows employers and recruitment companies to vet larger numbers of candidates quickly, then spend more time with the applicants who are the best fit. Whilst you can’t try these systems out in advance they offer you a test run when you login, which you can play back so that you can make sure that you can be seen and heard clearly.
2. Set up your virtual interview area
When you’re being interviewed you want the attention to be on you. So make sure that the room you are in isn’t messy. Login to the software and look at what the person will be able to see behind you. Remove clutter to create a more professional look. You may want to remove any photos of children etc. A painting or picture on the wall behind you is fine, but it’s better to have one or two rather than ten!
3. Choosing the right lighting
Good lighting is really important. You want the interviewer to be able to see your face and expressions well. It is best to have your largest light source either right in front of you, or no more than 45 degrees away. If you can’t position your screen with a window behind it make sure that you close the blind, otherwise you will have a distracting glow behind or to the side of you. Your screen can be a large source of light, so adjust your screen brightness, especially if you are taking a call without natural light.
4. Position your device correctly
The best position for your device is so that your eyes are in line with the camera lens. Raise your computer up by resting it on books or a box. This means that you will appear to be looking into the eyes of the recruiter, helping you build rapport.
5. Choosing the right interview outfit
Just as with an in person interview you need to pick the right outfit to wear which demonstrates that you are professional. Your subconscious mind associates putting on formal clothing with going to work and is strongly correlated with confidence and productivity. Therefore when you dress professionally you raise your own opinion of yourself and your behaviour follows suit by matching your clothes.
Solid and neutral colours work better than patterns via virtual interviews. Patterned outfits like stripes and checks can blur and be distracting.
6. Arrival time for virtual interviews
Make sure you’ve double checked the time, date and time zone for the meeting.
Whilst you may usually turn up for a face to face interview 10 minutes in advance be mindful that the interviewer may be using the same ‘virtual interview room’ for all candidates. So entering the room early may mean you join another candidates interview! They may have created a ‘waiting room.’ It’s best to arrive just a couple of minutes early.
7. Speak slowly and clearly
Interview nerves can make you speak more quickly. However, even if you have a great internet connection, the call might cut out for a second here and there. You’ll be much easier to understand if you’re not rushing through your responses. It will also make you appear more confident.
8. Be aware of your body language
In virtual interviews the recruiter can’t see your whole body. Most experts agree that 70 – 93% of communication is non-verbal.
See above about device positioning to make it easier for you to maintain eye contact.
Sit straight and lean slightly towards the screen to show enthusiasm. Make sure your torso is positioned in the centre of the screen so that hand gestures can be seen.
It’s harder to express active listening on screen, so smile and nod more than you would in person.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification
If your connection drops off for a second so you miss a question, don’t be afraid to ask for it to be repeated. Explain that the connection dropped out.
10. Be patient
Virtual interviews are new for many of us, including recruiting staff. As a Careers Springboard member having joined weekly webinars via Zoom you may be more confident than your interviewer at using the technology! So be patient, this will help ensure that you put yourself across in the best way.
It is a good idea to practice with other people. You could get in touch with other Careers Springboard members to see if they would be happy to help you. Or as a member you can book a mock interview. We wish you all the best and don’t forget to let us know if you secure a job.
If you want to build your confidence using Zoom Careers Springboard always welcomes members to try hosting or chairing meetings. Let us know if you would like to try.