Online interviews are here to stay and just like an in-person interview – preparation and practice is the key to success. Whether you have welcomed the age of remote working or are camera shy, we’ve got you covered with our five tips to nail a virtual interview.
1. Prepare and test your setup
There is no doubt that you have already used meeting platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet over the past few years. Even if you’re a pro at online interviews – it’s important to always check your setup and test it in advance. Firstly, choose a space without a cluttered background, or make sure you know how to blur out your background on the app you’re using. Make sure that any inappropriate filters are turned off and check your appearance and the volume. If you’re using a mobile phone or tablet, make sure you’ve got your device anchored so it won’t be moving around. Test and test again to ensure a glitch free interview.
2. Make notes
One advantage of virtual interviews is that you can refer to notes you’ve made. It is best not to read them verbatim or to keep looking down. It’s helpful to create a document with clear bullet points that remind you of work you’d like to share as well as achievements and other career highlights. Post-it notes also work well stuck to your monitor. Keep your notes high-level – they should serve as a reminder of what you want to communicate. As with any interview, preparing and practicing for questions a potential employer may ask is key to a successfully interview.
3. Check where you’re looking
During online interviews, it’s easy to forget where to look but it’s important to look directly into the camera of your device. In traditional interviews, we’re much more able to make connections with people through eye contact and natural rapport. You want to aim for the same thing on screen. If you tend to be distracted by your surroundings, stick a post-it-note on your device to remind you to look into the camera. If it helps, practice with a friend to get it right.
4. Watch your body language
Body language, in particular hand gestures, can help convey emotion – whether it’s excitement, passion, or something close to your heart. Along with the way we speak in a virtual interview, hand gestures are important. They support what we’re saying, and they also reflect our personality which helps us to better connect with employers. Likewise, be aware of your posture as that also sends signals. Try not to cross your arms or slouch. Keep a relaxed and open posture.
5. Keep calm and slow down
When we’re nervous, we tend to speak quickly. In the virtual world, it’s easy to let your mouth runaway…whether you’re trying to fill the silence or are simply anxious. Remember to take a breath and slow down. If you are asked a question, it’s ok to stop, breathe and think about it for a few seconds. This will help you to focus and it also shows that you’re able to remain calm under pressure. Employers know that interviews can be nerve wracking so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Understanding the differences between interviewing in-person as opposed to virtually means you have a good foundation from which to build. Consider how you can use these to your advantage, whether it’s making notes that remind you of what you want to share or using body language that reflects what you’re saying. Check your setup to ensure there’s no technical or visual issues and be prepared with some interesting questions. Stay calm, slow down, and remember that it’s okay to feel nervous. Most importantly, show up. If you need to cancel the interview for whatever reason, do it in advance.