Virtual job interviews became a necessity during the pandemic. But the benefits they offer, such as convenience and flexibility, have made them a viable long-term option for companies that are hiring. What this means for you is that, even if your career may be hands-on, you’ll probably experience at least one job interview virtually. Like in-person interviews, preparation is key. Make sure to practice and polish your interview skills so you can shine from any location.
Prepare for Your Online Interview
What you should always remember is that a virtual job interview is still a job interview. If you think that you can wing it or that you can relax your professional standards because the interviewers won’t meet you in person, you’re making a big mistake. You should be as polished and professional over Zoom as you are in person. Plan ahead and practice just as you would for any other interview. If this is your first virtual interview, you will need to make a few additional accommodations to adjust to the virtual environment:
Download the Appropriate Software
The employer should send you a link with instructions on how to access the interview chat room. But if you aren’t sure which platform they plan to use, go ahead and ask. Many companies use Zoom, but others use Skype, Microsoft Teams, or WebEx. Be sure that you download, install, and test the software well ahead of the interview.
Practice with the Softwaree
Ask a friend or family member to do a few practice calls with you. They can act as the interviewer and feed you questions that could be asked during the interview. This will help you adapt to the online environment, and it will give you a chance to try out the features it offers. You want to be sure that you can hear well and be heard. Practice will also give you the chance to test your connection and work out any problems before the big day.
Perfect Your Background
A picture says 1,000 words, so your background can communicate a lot to your employer. Make sure your space is clean and uncluttered and free of distractions. If you have the option to upload and use a background picture, choose a plain color or an office setting. Avoid images of the beach, mountains, or anything that could prevent the employer from taking you seriously.
Check Your Lighting
Choose a space that offers ample light. You don’t want to sit in the dark during your interview. If your space doesn’t have natural light, position a lamp in front of you to brighten your appearance on screen.
Although you may be in the comfort of your own home, you don’t want to be too comfortable. Even if the camera only shows you from the shoulders up, you should still dress as you would for an in-person interview. It will help you get into a professional mindset and make you feel like you’re in a regular interview. Plus, you would never want to be caught on camera in your sweatpants.
Don’t Arrive Too Early
This is one in-person rule that you should break online. Normally, you would want to arrive to an interview 10 to 15 minutes ahead of time. But in a virtual interview, you’ll just sit in an empty chat room, waiting for the employer to start the meeting. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your time wisely. Test your connection again just before the meeting. Make sure your background is ready to use or tidy up your space if needed. Check that your camera and microphone are turned on, and that your lighting is good. Then, when it’s time for the interview, show them why you’re the right candidate.
Be Your Best Self
Once you’ve practiced the tech part of online interviews, the rest is back to basics. Make sure that you listen fully to questions, answer them thoroughly, and speak clearly. Use real-world examples to back up what you say. Be sure to ask some questions of your own. And when it comes to the close of the interview, ask about next steps and let the interviewer know that you want the job.
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, but they’re a necessary step toward your new career — just like your education.
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