Make sure you understand these top 10 virtual interview tips to make the best impression in your next online interview!
For many job seekers, the interview process can be the most challenging part of their job search efforts. Over the last several years, that challenge has become even more daunting, as many employers have now adopted the virtual interview as a major part of their hiring processes. As a result, today's job candidates need to ensure that they can make the best possible impression in a video-based interview setting.
In this post, we'll examine some of the ways that a video interview differs from a standard in-person meeting. We will also offer some of the best virtual interview tips and tricks that can help you to make the type of impression that can land you your next job.
What is a virtual interview?
As the name suggests, a virtual interview is one that takes place without the interviewers and job candidate in the same room. These days, that feat is accomplished via video technology, with job seekers commonly participating from the comfort of their own homes. Using platforms like Zoom, Skype, Teams, or Google Hangout, hiring teams connect with job candidates digitally. For employers, the growing use of video interviews can mean greater efficiency, faster turnaround time in scheduling, and an opportunity to interview candidates regardless of their location.
The key differences between virtual and in-person interviews
While virtual interviews provide many benefits for companies and share many of the same attributes as in-person interviews, there are differences too.
Virtual interviews often consume less time than in-person meetings and can cost significantly less. They also allow companies to interview a broader range of candidates in a shorter amount of time.
In-person interviews, on the other hand, tend to be more personable, as video meetings can inhibit engagement and reduce the impact of body language and other nonverbal communication signals. They are also more reliable, as software and other technology problems can sometimes interfere with video calls.
Top 10 tips and tricks you can use to succeed in a virtual interview
Before you participate in any video interview, it's important to have a good understanding of the best tips for a virtual interview. Thankfully, we've compiled 10 top-notch tips for acing a virtual interview and avoiding major mistakes:
1. Prepare for it like any other interview
First, make sure that you do your homework before the interview. Research the company, the role, and the job description. Remember, many of the same preparation steps you would take for an in-person meeting also apply to any video interview. So, practice your answers to common interview questions, prepare a list of great questions that you can ask the interviewer, and be prepared to deliver a compelling narrative that demonstrates why you're the right person to hire.
2. Test your technology
Make sure that you have your video software working well in advance of the interview and test it out with a friend or family member. Check things like how well the software works with your computer, the strength and reliability of your internet connection, and the quality of your call. Familiarize yourself with the video conferencing software, so that you can easily manage your part in the call. That includes learning how to use features like mute and unmute, which may be necessary if you have any unexpected distraction during the interview.
3. Control your interview setting
Since you'll want to present a professional appearance during the interview, you should take time to ensure that your physical location makes the right impression. Find a quiet place with an uncluttered background and no unnecessary noise and use that as your meeting space. If possible, find a location with natural lighting that is directed from behind your screen, to ensure that you're well-lit throughout the call. It is also best to choose a room with a door that you can close for added privacy.
4. Sit the right distance from the camera
While testing your tech, you should try to figure out the best distance to keep between yourself and your computer's camera. This is one of those virtual interview tips for candidates that is easy to overlook, so choose carefully. You don't want to be so far away from the camera that your entire body is visible. But you also don't want to be so close that you seem to be leaning into the interviewer's space.
A good rule of thumb is to sit close enough that your shoulders and chest are visible, as well as your entire face and the top of your head. That positioning should enable the interviewers to clearly see you and your facial expressions, while avoiding being too close for comfort.
5. Dress appropriately
This might seem like one of those common sense interview tips for virtual interviews, but we're including it anyway. While you may feel comfortable in less formal attire while in your own home, you need to remember to dress just as you would if the interview were being held at the company's offices. Before the interview, find out how people at that company dress for work and pick out an outfit that matches that attire. The old saying, “dress for success” applies in virtual interviews too!
6. Be on time
You wouldn't show up late for an in-person interview, would you? Well, treat a video interview with that same level of commitment to punctuality. Be in your designated interview space ten or fifteen minutes early, make sure that your equipment is working properly, and join the meeting several minutes before it's scheduled to start. The last thing you want to do is make the hiring team wait for you to show up. If the meeting hasn't launched yet, stay at your computer and keep trying to join every minute or so.
7. Make eye contact
If this were an in-person meeting, you'd be focused on making eye contact throughout the interview. Unfortunately, maintaining eye contact is not always so easy when you're dealing with video conferencing technology - and for one simple reason: if you look directly at the people you're talking to, the camera angle likely won't reflect that eye contact.
One way to correct that problem is to move the video call window on your computer as close to the webcam as possible, in a centered position. If your distance from the screen is correct, then you should be able to come close to achieving good eye contact.
8. Build rapport and remain engaged
Rapport is vital for good communications, so make sure that you start the interview with a “virtual handshake” as you greet your interviewers with a smile, good eye contact, and even a nod of your head to express your eagerness and gratitude for the opportunity. That can create some rapport right off the bat and show that you're ready to engage in the interview. Good posture, some early small talk, and well-controlled facial expressions and body language can help to keep that engagement on track throughout the call.
9. Try to minimize interruptions
As anyone who works from home understands, interruptions can occur at any time. Pets need to be tended to, the phone can ring at unexpected times, or kids may burst into the room. If possible, try to limit those interruptions by making sure that someone else is prepared to handle any household concerns while you're in your interview. In addition, you can silence your phone, tablet, or other devices that might make unwanted noises.
Of course, if you have a dog who regularly barks or kids who play loudly in other rooms, you may want to preempt any potential interruptions by simply letting the interviewer know that those noises might occur. After all, the people at the other end of the virtual meeting know that you're at home, so they won't be surprised to hear you mention possible interruptions. Moreover, they'll likely appreciate you warning them in advance.
10. Remember that interviews are conversations
Finally, don't forget to be as authentic and organic as possible during the virtual interview. Feel free to engage with questions about the interviewers' responses if the situation calls for it, and don't be afraid to ask them to repeat themselves if you have trouble hearing anything that they say. Don't rush through the process either. Take your time, make sure that they're finished speaking before you talk, and give them some sort of indication whenever you complete an answer. That can help to avoid awkward periods of silence.
Video interviews are increasingly common, but continue to be tricky for many job seekers to navigate successfully. Without the right strategy, job candidates can easily make mistakes that leave the wrong impression on prospective employers. Fortunately, these 10 virtual interview tips and tricks can help you to properly prepare for your video interview and avoid many of the most common interview errors.
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