As common as video interviews have become in recent times, they do come with their own kind of challenges and require preparation. Of course, there is the convenience of not having to leave your home and drive to another city for a 30-minute interview at 7 in the morning. However, there are still several factors to consider, such as technical setup, presentation, and communication, which can greatly affect your performance, impression, and overall success in the interview. Although the virtual shift started a few years ago, we still constantly see candidates lose out on a job opportunity because of a mistake in an online interview.
In this article, we will be highlighting some of the best practices as well as the most common mistakes we observe daily in candidates during virtual interviews. You may or may not already be aware of some of these tips, but what’s important is to actually incorporate them into your interview prep routine so you can put your best foot forward for your next on-screen interview.
1. Choose a Suitable Location:
A quiet, well-lit space is a must for a smooth, distraction-free interview. Remove any clutter from the view, or better yet, use a plain and professional-looking digital background.
Avoid doing the interview in public places like a café or even in your car, as the surrounding area can be crowded and unpredictable. Choose a location that has good lighting in front of or above you. On more than one occasion, we have seen candidates position themselves with light right behind them, which leaves us talking to a silhouette. This makes it difficult to build a connection, especially online, where it’s already challenging to begin with. Ideally, you should set yourself up facing a window, but not so close that the sun will be glaring at you and cause you to squint. This lighting tends to be the most flattering, and it is proven that when you look good and feel good, you will conduct yourself more confidently.
Let your family or roommates know that you’ll be in an interview and ask them to be quiet during that time and respect your space. The last thing you would want is someone barging in, whether it may be your kid asking for a snack or the dog looking for belly rubs. If possible, ask your roommates to avoid using loud appliances or doing activities that may create noise. For those of you living in an urban area, you are well aware of how bustling city life can be. Make sure your windows are closed to avoid getting distracted or interrupted by noisy traffic outside.
2. Test your Technology:
Check the strength and stability of your internet connection an hour or so before the interview so that you have enough time to fix any issues. To avoid any unexpected battery drain, make sure your device is sufficiently charged or better yet, plugged in during the interview. Consider doing a test run with a friend or family member to ensure the mic and camera are working properly. Definitely avoid holding your laptop or phone for the meeting. Being hands-free keeps everything steady and allows you to also make use of your hands for body language. We’ve had our fair share of interviews where all we can see is the top of a head or an angle below the chin – that’s not flattering for anyone. For bigger gadgets like laptops, try stacking a few large books to raise your device to a more favourable position. For smaller devices, consider purchasing a phone or tablet stand to keep everything stable; there are many affordable options out there!
If you are applying for a remote or hybrid position, stable internet connection and smooth technology operation are all the more critical. If you do encounter technical difficulties, it may plant a seed of doubt about your ability to successfully work from home.
All that being said, some things are just out of our control. In the event that last-minute technical difficulties do happen, keep a backup plan ready. Share your phone number with the interviewer and ask for theirs in case you need to switch to a phone call. It’s not the best look, but it shows that you are proactive, can anticipate problems, and provide a solution. Better than ghosting the whole interview!
3. Log in Early
It goes without saying that you should not be late for your interview. In fact, being early shows that you are eager and excited about the opportunity, and willing to put in the effort to make a good impression. It can also be a good forecast of your punctuality going forward. It is ideal to log in at least 8-10 minutes early and check if everything is good to go for the meeting. This can help you reduce stress and anxiety associated with the interview. You’ll have time to compose yourself, review your notes, and mentally prepare.
Put your phone on “Airplane Mode” to avoid getting calls or texts or use the “Do Not Disturb” function to mute any notification that could pop up on your screen from emails or social media platforms, as they could be distracting. Also, make sure you have a professional and appropriate username to use for the meeting, and not have “catlover243” show up as your display name. It wouldn’t hurt to also double-check that the unicorn filter isn’t turned on – courtesy of your kid from the last time they used your device to take an online class.
4. Dress the Part
The way you present yourself is just as important as your qualifications and experience, and that goes for both in-person and video interview. You may be attending the meeting from the comfort of your own home, but it is still an interview with your possible future employer. Dressing professionally shows that you’re taking the interview seriously. It gives you the opportunity to exhibit the standards you live by which is sure to make a good impression.
While the dress code may depend on the company culture, it is best to opt for professional attire such as a suit or a formal blouse and pants. Avoid wearing casual clothes like T-shirts, shorts, or sweatpants. Pay attention to your grooming as well. Brush your hair, wash your face, and keep your nails clean and trimmed.
It should go without saying, but please do be fully clothed before you turn on the camera! We had a candidate who thought having their shirt on was optional since it was “JUST” an online interview! Yes, we have seen it all.
5. Prepare Notes & Resume
It can be difficult to remember all the details of your experience and qualifications during the interview. Having notes and a resume ready can help you stay on track and efficiently communicate your skills and experience. You can prepare notes on the company, job description, your experience, and any questions you have for the interviewer. This can help you feel more confident and focused.
However, the notes should only serve as reference points. Make sure you are not reaching for the notes to answer every other question as it can indicate lack of professionalism and preparation.
One other very important piece of information to double, even triple, check – is who you are meeting with – the organization as well as the person. We have seen candidates mix up who they were interviewing with, and things got awkward for obvious reasons.
6. Engage with the Interviewer
Just like in an in-person interview, smiling and using positive body language can help you make a good impression. Sit up straight, nod and smile to show that you are actively listening and engaged in the conversation. When you are speaking or listening, try to look directly into the camera instead of at the interviewer’s video feed. Your camera should be positioned at eye level, and you should be centered in the frame. This will help you maintain eye contact with the interviewer and avoid looking down or up, which can be distracting. Using hand gestures every now and then can also help demonstrate key points and convey enthusiasm.
If you have difficulty expressing yourself with positive body language, try to do a few practices runs before the interview with friends or family or even by yourself in front of the mirror.
7. Thank You Email
It is always a good idea to send a thank-you email sometime after the interview. This can reinforce your interest in the position and the company. It gives you another opportunity to express your enthusiasm for the job and to reiterate how your skills and experience are a good match for the role.
A well-drafted thank you email can set you apart from the rest. It could even be the final tiebreaker between you and another candidate. In fact, even if you are not selected for the job, your message may create enough of an impression for them to remember you for future opportunities.
Preparing for a video interview is not just about having the right technical equipment or appearance. It’s about getting into the right mindset as if it were an in-person interview and treating it just as seriously. We hope the following tips outlined in this article can increase your chances of success and make a lasting impression on the interviewer. Good luck on your next career move!
Looking for a job? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org