Be so good they can’t ignore you.Steve Martin
Our current environment is a challenging one, to say the least. We’ve all been forced to drastically adjust aspects of our personal and professional lives. Likewise, many companies are in the midst of hiring freezes, furloughs, and lay-offs for millions of workers. For many of us, the prospects of finding job opportunities and landing them are somewhat tantamount to winning the lottery.
Virtual interviews have always been a thing, especially for people who may be seeking employment far from where they live. Because of the pandemic, however, the need for virtual interviews has escalated as companies are asking their employees and management staffs to work remotely.
Interviewing for a job can always be a little nerve-wracking. With a few tools in your trusty interviewing toolbelt, it doesn’t have to be!
Let’s take a look at seven strategies you can implement to ensure you are as prepared as possible for your virtual interview and avoid some of the hiccups you might encounter if you are not used to interviewing virtually.
Test Out Your Tech.
This is the essential first step, and following are critical components for you to consider.
- Ask the company performing the interview what platform you’ll be using for the interview. Take the time to familiarize yourself with it, especially if it’s new technology for you.
- Make sure you have back-up phone numbers in case the technology malfunctions that day, for whatever reason. Employers will appreciate your diligence and engagement.
- During your rehearsals, test out all of the visuals that you may be sharing or anticipate you’ll be asked to share to ensure they are queued correctly.
- On the day of the event, ask family members in the household to resist any TV or computer streaming during your meeting. Better yet, maybe they can take the dog for a drive and leave you to a quiet home with optimal bandwidth.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings.
- This is another basics-of-virtual-calls tip. Set up your camera in a space where you don’t see a ton of clutter around you. Make it look as professional as possible. Position yourself with a neutral background behind you so your interviewer is focused on you and not on what’s displayed behind you.
- Ensure you have dressed appropriately for the interview. A good rule of thumb is to dress somewhere between a suit-and-tie and a t-shirt. Look professional for the job for which you’re interviewing. Many of us have seen conference call videos where a person stands up without thinking, and they’re wearing boxer shorts. Don’t be that guy.
Set-up a Mock Interview.
If you’ve never interviewed in front of a camera where you can see your own face while you talk, it might be doubly worth setting up a mock interview with someone who can boost your confidence. If you don’t have someone to mock interview with you, record a practice session and play it back to see if anything needs shifting. Maybe you are looking past the camera or forget to make eye contact. Or maybe the background doesn’t look like you anticipated, or the lighting is too dark. Go into this mock interview with the intention of answering as honestly as you would the real interview.
Do Your Research.
Even though the interview is virtual, it’s still important to do the work necessary to show your potential employer that you are the right fit. You can do this by doing a little research into the company. Scour their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts for information, especially for insight into their values or, key messages from their CEO and senior management. This may also assist you in finding out more about their social and environmental positions. How are they reacting to or pivoting their business in response to COVID-19? Is there a practice within the company that you can relate to and create a narrative around to show them that you’ve put in some effort to understand who they are? The more you understand about who they are, the easier it will be to convince them that you will be an asset to their team.
Make a Good First Impression.
First impressions are important, especially when interviewing for a job. You can make a good first impression by doing all of the above. You can take it a step further by showing up early. This will look different than in-person, though it still shows you are punctual. It is okay to present some ice-breakers to get the ball rolling and build some rapport before the interview gets moving.
Have an Awareness of How You’re Communicating.
During a virtual interview, it’s important to pause for a beat before responding to a question asked of you. If you speak before the other person has finished, there’s a good chance it will cut them off mid-sentence. Body language is also important. Sit up straight and look alert and engaged. Nod your head at appropriate times so they know you aren’t a statue or that your connection wasn’t frozen. Stay positive throughout. This conveys a sense of confidence that shows your interviewer how you can handle stressful situations on the job.
Besides all of the basic follow-up questions, i.e., how do you measure success in this position; what are the company’s expectations, etc., be prepared to ask your interviewer questions more pertinent to today’s environment. For example, you may want to inquire into what the company’s process is for onboarding employees virtually. Business Insider has shared many more questions for various positions and company sectors that could be very helpful to you in your interview.
Interviewing for a job in any context can make one nervous and anxious. Ease your worries by preparing in advance, and then, once you’ve done everything you can to ensure you’re ready, all that’s left to do is relax.
Take a few deep breaths before you dial in. And bring your best in the moment.