Making an Impact in Online Interviews
The Covid-19 pandemic has bumped up the number of people working from home, in a way we could never have imagined this time a year ago. Our new remote set-up means online interviews and interactions with prospective employers have become essential in any recruitment process. They may not be equal to a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting, but they’re certainly here to stay, and there are ways to make the best of a virtual interview. Here are some top tips to keep in mind when it’s your turn to link in.
Test your tech beforehand
Testing, testing…1..2..3… run a test on all the tools you’ll be using for the interview at least a day before, whether it’s Zoom, Google Meet, WhatsApp, FaceTime, WeChat, or something else. Make sure all your systems are 'go' about 15-20 minutes before the actual interview, including making sure your camera and microphone work, and your computer, laptop, tablet, or phone and it's devices are sufficiently charged. Do a quick check to make sure your internet connection is strong enough where you are and you have the sign-in information or contact details on-hand so the interview can run smoothly and on time.
Wear appropriate, smart attire
Even if you won’t necessarily be showing your bottom half, it’s always best to dress as you would for a face-to-face interview in order to feel the part. It will make you feel more ready and confident, and get you in the right mood. There are no hard and fast rules anymore on what you should wear these days, there’s a hoodie culture with tech companies, a sporty and athletic style for sporting goods and apparel companies, and it's still suit-and-tie for financial firms - but the key takeaway is to do your research beforehand for the company you will be interviewing with. If they can envision you there, that’s already a big plus. A good rule is to dress one level up from what a normal employee may wear on an average day, and still be very well-groomed and polished, with neat hair and a clean face, and nothing in your teeth! If you’re unsure, business casual is a good standard to follow such as a button-down shirt and trousers/skirt. Opt for more neutral colors (black, blue, white, tan) and patterns that aren’t too distracting.
Find a quiet place with a neutral background and no distractions
Choose a room that is clean, neutral, and professional-looking.. for example, a plain wall in the background with a simple desk set-up. Test your video using the tool you will be using for the interview or a simple program, such as Photo Booth on Mac, to view what others will see. Check the angle, lighting, and overall composure so you feel confident with what you’re projecting. Make sure your roommates, if you have any, are aware of your interview so there are no strange background noises and random appearances. This can be amusing but not something you actually plan to happen, like these adorable children interrupting their dad in thisBBC interview- heart-warming but also heart-stopping! You should also keep your pets away and consider locking the door if that’s an option. The interview should focus on you, not what’s around you.
Use professional body language
Interviewing over digital channels limits your use of body language so it’s important to come across professional and be aware of facial expressions and movements. Avoid slouching and sit upright, and have a nice straight-forward view into the camera, enabling you to look directly at the person interviewing you. Even if you get a challenging question, keep your poise and confidence and take a moment to collect your thoughts before answering. Stay professional, but still be natural and yourself. We’re all humans after all, even if we’re speaking through devices.
Build rapport, be human
When you first meet someone in person you usually smile, greet, and give them a nice firm handshake. Without this confident handshake to establish the relationship, you have to rely on an appropriate online greeting. Try to be warm, enthusiastic, and professional.. and don't forget to smile! It’s not as easy to have those small interactions you do in person, so make a point to create some rapport. You can talk about the current situation where they are (Covid anyone? How’s the weather?), or a common interest or neutral topic; a great way to break the ice as well as learn a bit more about the person you’re speaking with. The advantage is that you are speaking to them in a familiar and relaxing environment, and can be ready without all the fluster of getting to the interview itself.
As with every interview, preparation is key, so besides making sure you’re ready to go online, research the company well, have good examples on hand (achievements, obstacles you’ve overcome, key examples that would be relevant to the job scope), and keep calm and be you. All the best with your online interviews!