For quite some time, online interviews have provided a convenient way for employers and potential employees to meet virtually when onsite interviews aren’t practical for one reason or another. Recruiters have also been using this method to screen candidates prior to submitting their resumes to clients. What has changed recently though is how widespread and commonplace online interviews have become. So, it’s very likely that the next time you interview, it will be online.
Virtual interviews allow interviewers to see facial expressions, hand gestures, body language, and even attire – which all add to the experience of getting to know a person better and forming an opinion. However, just because you are interviewing from the comfort of your own home, doesn't mean you don't have to plan! It’s an absolute ‘must’ to be fully prepared just as you would for a real face-to-face interview - and perhaps even more so. Here’s a must-do list for your first (or 31st) online interview.
Get Familiar With the Online Platform or App
Once you receive the invite for the interview, download the tool ahead of time and get familiar with the layout, functions and quirks. Each platform has its own buttons, bells and whistles, so get acquainted with them. Make sure your camera is set at the right angle, distance and you know what will be on the screen and also do a soundcheck. Don't forget to choose and enter an appropriate online profile name (it’s usually best to enter your name as it appears on your resume).
If possible, call on a family member or friend to do a mock-interview with you. They will need to access the online platform from their own device, but this is a great way to get really comfortable with the application. Most software will even let you record a meeting, and then watch it again to catch any bad habits such as quirky facial expressions, fidgeting, bad lighting, unflattering camera angle, cluttered background, volume issues and so forth. Some platforms, such as Zoom, offer virtual backgrounds in case your own background isn’t suitable. But be careful to choose a background that isn't distracting during the interview. You want the interviewer to focus on you, and not the background.
Virtual interviews can actually give you a leg up, letting you have notes off camera. Have all your interview information in front of you, such as a copy of your resume, the job description, points you plan to cover during the interview, a set of questions you’d like to ask the interviewer and a notepad and pen to take notes. Also, shut down any other programs on your computer or device, so that you don’t get any popup notifications or messages that could throw off your concentration during the interview.
Dress Like You Would for a Face-to-Face Interview
Even though you are interviewing from the comfort of your own home, you are still interviewing. Your hair and outfit should be well-groomed and presentable, just like you would if you were going into the office. It’s a good idea to try out your outfit during your practice interview to make sure it looks presentable, conveys the right image and looks great on camera.
You want to give 100% of your focus to this interview, which can be a challenge when you're at home. You already turned your computer notifications off because you're prepared, but make sure your phone is on silent as well and you don't have the TV or music playing in the background either. If there’s someone else in the house, make sure to let them know ahead of the time frame you can't be disturbed (and a note on the door doesn't hurt as a reminder), so you don’t want any embarrassing distractions or anyone bursting into the room in the middle of a question.
And a bonus tip: smile, relax and just be you!
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