As the COVID-19 Pandemic has changed office life, companies are making significant adjustments to daily operations to accommodate social distancing, which includes how they conduct the interview process. With all of the video conferencing software available virtual interviews, as opposed to meeting face to face have become essential and much more common than ever before.
Preparing for a virtual interview can be nerve-wracking, so we’ve put together the following tips to help set you up for success.
Dress for Success
Even if you’re only visible from the waist up, prepare for this interview as if you were going into an office for a face to face meeting. Putting your best professional foot forward is important, even virtually. Making sure you project that professionalism is tough through a screen, so your attire is a good place to start and yes, that includes pants.
Test your Tech
Technology is key in times like these. Not only are you being interviewed on your skills in relation to the job you’ve applied for, but in a way, you’re also being tested on your technological skills and ability to be proactive and problem solve. Ask for the technology and details for the virtual interview in advance, and then test your set up to make sure everything runs smoothly. Does your camera work? Is your audio clear? How strong is your internet connection? These are all things that can be done before the interview to alleviate stress day of and avoid the embarrassment of a technological problem during the interview.
Be Aware of What’s Visible in the Background
As tempting as it may be to sit on the couch and be comfortable or show off your gallery wall you’ve worked so hard on, don’t. Set your computer up, turn on your camera, and take a look at what’s visible behind you. What setting in your space looks most professional and also the least distracting? Make sure your space is clean and tidy, messy backgrounds make it hard to convince a potential employer that you’re organized and detail oriented, and also make sure you’re the focal point. Lighting is key, so if possible, pick a space with a lot of natural light.
This one may be tough, but it’s doable. Interviewing from home means there are distractions galore. The TV, ringing phones, your pets, your roommates or children, construction happening outside, the list goes on and on. Do what you can to eliminate the easiest distractions, and prepare for the possibility that you’re still interrupted. You can’t plan for every potential distraction, but even a little preparation helps. If you have kids or are caring for an elderly family member, feel free to be proactive and let your potential employers know at the start of the interview.
The best part of a virtual interview is the ability to do it within the comfort of your own space. This gives you the opportunity to practice in the same environment as the interview. Go over the questions you may have, the answers to questions they may ask, your body language, and anything else you don’t want to forget or feel you’d like to practice. Avoid memorizing answers, you don’t want to sound scripted, but use Post-It Notes to write down reminders and talking points, and stick them to the computer screen or the wall within your line of sight so you don’t have to fidget or look down at a piece of paper during the interview. Adjust the camera angle to make sure you’re looking straight on, not up or down, and that it’s comfortable so that you can sit straight up.
Just as you treated the process before the virtual interview the same as you would if it were in person, do the same for post interview. This includes following up with the people you interviewed within 24 hours of the interview.
Pro tip: When working with a recruiter, be sure to ask them how best to follow up with a company – this will save you time and effort up front!
That said, do send an email thanking them for taking the time to speak with you, and use this as an opportunity to ask a question you thought of after and wish you had asked, or elaborating on a point you felt was important. Keep your message tone professional and messages should short and to the point.