With the outbreak of COVID-19 and people being required to stay home as much as possible, rapid changes have been made not only in how we work, but also in how we secure new employment. For some, the thought of interviewing via a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Skype can be daunting. While this certainly involves some differences—such as not shaking someone's hand or not being in the same room together—much of the interview process remains the same (discussing the job, asking and answering questions related to experience, etc.). If you haven't interviewed virtually before, fear not; read on for some tips that will help prepare you so you can knock it out of the park.

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First, Prepare Your Physical Environment
The last thing you want in your interview is—a distraction! It's important to make sure your environment is clean, neat and conducive to a professional meeting. A quiet, private space where you won’t be interrupted is key (note: if you have children around, as many do under the current circumstances, consider putting a sign on the door, or stoplight signals outside, so they know when not to barge in). A blank, empty background is preferable and less distracting to the interviewer, so the less artwork on the wall behind you, the better. Keep in mind what can be captured on your camera and if you have to conduct the meeting at say, your kitchen table or counter, make sure there aren't things lying around. (No one wants to see a mess when you are trying to present the best version of yourself!) Lighting is also important. Sitting by a window is acceptable; however, avoid sitting directly in front of it, as the light will cause you to look like a shadow and the interviewer will not be able to see your face.

Test Your Technology
Once you receive the interview details, make sure you have access to and can operate the appropriate platform or application being used for the meeting (e.g. Skype, Webex, Zoom, etc.). This should be done as soon as possible so you can test and troubleshoot any issues that may come up. These can include a poor internet connection, a non-working microphone or camera/video problems. A hiring manager who has to wait for you to figure out how to get the sound working will not be impressed.

Practicing online with someone—a friend or family member—is highly encouraged to provide feedback on things like sound and camera angle. When you’re on camera, make sure that your head and shoulders are visible and don’t lean too far forward; otherwise you will look too large on the screen. To combat outside noise, it's also recommended to use headphones (ideally small ones, rather than the bulky over-the-head kind). And, finally, turn off all notifications, like email or chat, so they do not make noises and/or distract you during the meeting.  

Get Ready for the Interview
Just because you are not meeting in person, does not mean you shouldn’t take the interview seriously. Do all of the things you normally would for an in-person interview:

  • Understand the job and conduct research on the company and hiring manager.
  • Come prepared with questions regarding the job and the day-to-day expectations, etc.
  • Be ready to answer not only the standard questions (successes, failures, describe yourself, etc.) but also anything that could seem unrelated. An example would be if you were asked "If you could be a superhero, who would it be and why?"
  • Think of something personal to share that could make a connection; you’ll want to make the meeting as conversational as possible.

Present Yourself Professionally
You've set the stage and prepped for the call. Now what? After diligently testing your equipment, setting up the environment and rehearsing answers, you are almost ready to go. How you present yourself is the key to your success. You may be at home, but that doesn't mean you should dress like it. As with any interview, dress the part from head to toe; this projects confidence and shows the hiring manager you are serious about the job. For men, this might mean a button-up shirt and blazer; women can wear a dress or blouse and a skirt or slacks. And don't forget your shoes! In order to come across as poised and confident, sit up straight, smile and nod. While you’re not there in person, you want the interviewer to know that you’re engaged and enthusiastic. And, even if it feels awkward, try to look straight at the camera when speaking in order to really make an impression. A virtual interview is never an excuse to read prepared answers. Conduct yourself exactly like you would in a live interview.

Although virtual interviewing has become a necessity in our current climate, experts say it's most likely here to stay. Arming yourself with the right tips and tools will help you become a pro in no time, so that you can stand out from the crowd and land that job. Are you looking for your next, great position? Let us know how we can help.