11 Tips For Nailing A Virtual Job Interview | SLMan
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If you’re job hunting right now, chances are any interviews won’t happen face to face. Instead, most companies are turning to Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams to meet and assess potential candidates. So how do you ensure you still make a good impression? Here, three career experts share their tips.

Set the right scene…

The most important, and first decision you should make is where you are going to have your interview – is it in your home office? Your bedroom? Your kitchen? Wherever you choose, ensure the lighting is right – direct light sources or bright objects behind you can create a shadowy silhouette, and you want the interviewer to be able to see you clearly. “Think about what the interviewer will see in frame when looking behind you,” agrees Thea Watson, marketing director of recruitment firm Hays’ UK & Ireland division. “The interviewer’s attention needs to be firmly on you. Once you have set up your ‘interview room’, make sure you’re not risking family, friends or pets walking in when the interview is taking place. Let them know ahead of time that you have an interview, and then close the door to keep out any external noise.” On certain platforms, it’s even possible to set your background to neutral or make it completely blank. 

Limit any distractions…

It goes without saying that the ideal place to have an interview in your home is a quiet location with few distractions. If you can, try to choose a room that is clean and professional-looking at the very least. “Try to place your computer on a table or desk instead of your lap or couch,” advises the team from job-hunting site Indeed. “Tell people you are sharing space with about the area you’ll be using for your interview, the time of your interview, and that you and your quiet space will be off-limits during that time. Respectfully explain that during this time, it is best that the house stays quiet with limited distractions. If possible, you might also place pets in a different room.” 

Test, test & test again…

The day before your video interview, have a test run. “Organise a test call with a family member or friend – this will ensure that the camera and microphone both work,” advises Thea. “Run through some interview questions and answers and ask the family member or friend to provide you with any feedback.” It might feel strange but recording yourself answering your interview questions out loud is a great way to check your body language, too. “It also gives you a final opportunity to test the lighting and sound quality,” adds Thea. “After all, you won’t want to suddenly become aware of these issues during the interview itself.”

Iron out any tech issues…

These days, there are lots of different potential platforms you could use for interview; WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom are just a few. And, in most cases, the first thing that your interviewer will see is your profile photo and username, so ensure both are appropriate. “If you experience a technical glitch like a weak connection or interference, always ask the interviewer to repeat the question,” advises the team from recruitment firm Robert Walters. “If the problem continues, politely mention it and reconnect to avoid missing any crucial information. Monitoring the speed and tone of your speech will also prepare you for any delays in communication, while making acknowledgement sounds like ‘hmm’ or ‘yes’ will reassure the interviewer that you can hear them. Finally, always opt to use headphones – they’re typically more reliable than speakers and are far less likely to create feedback.”

Dress for a face-to-face interview…

Even though you may be being interviewed from the comfort of your own home, you should still dress as you would for a face-to-face interview – even on your lower half (you never know if you’ll need to stand up). “Getting fully dressed up for the interview makes you look professional, but also helps to put you in the right mindset for a formal conversation with a potential employer,” says Thea. “Dark colours are typically best, and avoid stark white as well as overly busy patterns,” adds the Robert Walters team. “Over-the-top make-up and glittery jewellery can also be distracting.”

Contrary to popular opinion, a virtual interview is actually a rare opportunity to speak in a relaxing, familiar environment and show the interviewer who you really are.

Keep notes & prompts out of sight…

The advantage of an at-home interview means you can have prompts or notes to hand – just be sure not to make it obvious, advise the experts. “Before the interview, print off your CV and prepare questions to ask at the end,” says Thea. “Make sure your notes are out of shot but clearly visible to you to use as springboards or prompts. This will help limit the risk of being tempted to look down and simply read from your CV.” If you do choose to use notes, just ensure it still sounds natural, adds the Robert Walters team. “Reading notes or sounding too rehearsed will disrupt the natural flow of conversation, making you look under-prepared,” they warn. 

Get there early… yes, really

In many ways, a virtual interview demands that you act as you would a conventional interview – so you should endeavour to turn up early. “Have everything in place at least 10 minutes before the interview start time,” says Thea. “This will ensure you are ready and waiting when the interviewer dials in – the last thing you want to do is keep them waiting.”

Engage the interviewer…

With a lack of face-to-face interaction, eye-contact and engagement is key. “Try to forget that you’re talking to a screen and react to your interviewer as you would in person, by nodding and agreeing, keeping your body language positive and engaging,” says Thea. “Don’t overdo it, however, and be careful not to come across as unnaturally animated.” Looking into the camera, rather than your image on the screen will help you look as engaged as possible, giving the impression that you are looking into the interviewer’s eyes, adds the Robert Walters team. “While you’ll want to keep your posture straight, leaning forward toward the camera slightly can increase eye contact and allow the interviewer better read your facial expressions.”

Be authentic…

Contrary to popular opinion, a virtual interview is actually a rare opportunity to speak in a relaxing, familiar environment and show the interviewer who you really are. “Recruiters will look for how you express yourself to understand whether you are a good fit for the company,” adds Thea. “Use tools such as your body language, facial expressions and interview preparations to convey your confidence and personality as it relates to the position.” This way you’ll be able to show the interviewer you’re the right person for the job.

Stay calm throughout…

Even for all the preparation in the world, anyone can be hit by unforeseen complications. The key is not to panic. “Tech problems or issues with your internet connection may occur at any time,” admits Thea. “How you react when things don’t go as planned will reveal to your employer your ability to calmly and proactively tackle difficult situations. Have an alternative contact detail – a phone number or email address – on standby in case things go awry and you need to continue over a different channel.”

Finally, always follow up…

It should go without saying, but just like an in-person interview, you should think about sending a quick email via your recruiter or straight to the interviewer or recruiting manager to say how much you enjoyed talking to them and learning about the role and the company. “Reinforce your interest in the role and say that you look forward to hearing from them soon,” Thea says. “This sets you up nicely for the next conversation.”

 

For more tips and information on job hunting and interview success visit Hays.co.uk, RobertWalters.co.uk or Indeed.co.uk.

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