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How to succeed in a virtual interview

With uncertainty being the only certainty of 2020, we can safely assume that the job hunt will be anything but ordinary. From lockdowns and quarantines, to restrictions and social distancing, it’s hard to know what the situation will be months, weeks and even days from now. So it really is an oxymoron when you read the statement ‘plan for an interview’. Plans get thrown out at the drop of face mask, so how can you really ‘plan’ for a meeting when you’re not even sure it’ll go ahead?

Lucky for us though, technology provides some stability in an otherwise unstable world. Virtual interviewing is the new buzzword, thrown around by companies far and wide, and we know why. Conducted remotely, you don’t even need to leave the safety of your own home to interact with others and embark on the job search. You can put your best virtual foot forward to land your dream job, all from your lounge room!

So what exactly can you do to succeed in these interviews? Here are our practical tips to score that role:

 

1. Prep your tech

Pretty simple, but make sure your tech is working. If you’re on a Zoom call and you sound like you’ve switched on a slow-mo voice effect, then things won’t bode too well for you. To prevent the dreaded lag, try to sit as close to your wi-fi modem as possible, or alternatively, invest in an Ethernet cable to ensure you avoid any pesky drop-outs. It’s also a great idea to test out your mic and camera before entering the virtual meeting room. You want to ensure you can be seen and heard clearly. Another top tip: check that the interview link you’ve been sent is actually functional. If not, get in contact with your interviewer ASAP.

 

2. Nail the basics

A virtual interview really isn’t all that different to a regular interview in terms of the questions you’ll be asked, so ensure that you are adequately prepared. Some basic tips we have are to:

// Research the company beforehand.

// Back up any answers with anecdotes of your previous achievements and projects. You want to mention specific examples.

// Dress the part. Look presentable and professional (at least from the waist up – no one can tell if you’re still wearing your pyjama bottoms)

// Have some questions ready to ask the interviewer. It’ll not only make a good impression by showing that you are prepared, but will also help you determine if the role is right for you.

 

3. Brush up on your virtual etiquette

It can be a little difficult to read the room when you’re not physically in said room, so it’s a great idea to brush up on your virtual interviewing etiquette. We’re sure that you have experience in video calls of some sort, be it Facetime calls with that aunty overseas or Skype meetings of days past, so we don’t want to be preaching to the converted. But with that being said, it doesn’t hurt to cover off a few key points to consider when in a virtual rendezvous with a prospective employer.

// Avoid distractions. You want to give your interviewer your full, undivided attention (as you would expect them to give you). So yes, that means putting your phone on silent. The messages can wait!

// Consider your surroundings. When attending an interview in person, it’s usually held in a quiet office, right? There aren’t people barging in left, right and centre. So try to mimic these surroundings at home. Choose a location where you can ensure that you will be heard clearly and won’t be interrupted. That may mean putting up a sign to alert housemates or family that you are on an important call. So that’s a no-no to them turning on the coffee machine or having a chat in the kitchen. Sound travels!

// Be courteous. Although you may be dying to answer the question your interviewer has just posed, it’s best to wait until they have finished speaking to avoid that awkward ‘no you go, no you go’ tussle. It’s pretty obvious, but easier said than done when you’re not physically in the room with the interviewer and can’t easily read their body language. A good rule of thumb? Wait until there has been a slight pause after their question and then the floor is yours.

// Position your camera appropriately. Just like a passport photo, you want to ensure you fit perfectly within that Zoom frame. That means sitting close enough to the camera that the interviewer can clearly see your face, but not too close that it becomes creepy (if your eyes take up most of the screen, you’re not doing it right). Make sure that you can be seen from the waist up and that the camera is at eye level so that you can make appropriate eye contact and mimic a regular interview.

 

4. Try your best to de-stress

It’s normal to feel a little nervous before an interview, and it can be even more nerve-racking when it’s not conducted in a conventional setting – think, through a computer screen in your dining room! So try you best to de-stress. That may mean going for a quick walk around our neighbourhood, or having a tea to calm your nerves. You want to go into the interview with a clear mind.

 

5. Build rapport

You are speaking to another person after all, so try to build some rapport with your interviewer. The current climate is a perfect conversation starter and helps make the whole situation feel a whole lot more human. You may also discover you have a common interest, so use this to forge a connection!

 

6. Monitor your body language

First impressions still matter – even through a screen. So ensure you are sending the right message. Sit upright and avoid fiddling or rocking in your chair. You want to communicate that you are not only professional, but that you are also eager to land this role. Staring longingly into the distance or checking your nails doesn’t give off the best impression.

 

7. Check in afterwards

Follow up after your interview with an email thanking your interviewer for their time. If you discussed something you had in common this is also a great time to bring it up. This will help you to remain top of mind for all the right reasons.

Looking for more tips to ace your next virtual interview? Read our article on how to smash a video interview.

At Talent, we have 25 years’ experience in tech and digital recruitment. Check out our Job Search for hundreds of opportunities in your field.