Virtual interviews have generally been used as a way to screen candidates, often being seen as less serious and less important than in-person interviews. While this can be true, the use of video interviews has been increasing. In fact, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, almost all in-person interviews have been canceled and replaced by video interviews.
Online interviews will certainly be offputting at first, but there are several tips that can help you stand out – even if it’s over a Zoom call!
It’s always important to come across as both prepared and professional. With video interviews, one of the main ways to show this is through the setting. Your background should be plain, preferably a neutrally colored wall with no distracting or inappropriate decor. Anything that can be seen by the camera should also be clean- nothing makes for a worse impression than dirty laundry, garbage, and general clutter everywhere.
You should also consider what might interrupt your interview, and find ways to minimize these distractions. Put pets in a different room, and ask roommates or family members to be quiet during your video interview. If you live in an apartment, you may even want to ask your neighbors to refrain from making loud noises for the duration of your interview. Close windows to avoid disturbances from outside. During the interview, turn your phone off or silence notifications.
The lighting and camera angle is also important. Natural light makes for the best setting, so conduct your interview close to a window if you can. However, make sure the window is in front of or next to you; bright light behind you can make your face hard to see. For angle, try to situate the camera as close to eye level as possible. This will seem the most natural on video, and will make eye contact easier.
Just like any in any interview, you should dress professionally, but there are also other ways to subtly differentiate yourself.
Body language cues for virtual interviews are very similar to in-person interviews- sit up straight, smile, and make eye contact. However, eye contact can be tricky for video calls. Many people instinctively look at the screen, where they can see the interviewer’s eyes, which comes across as looking down. To make ‘eye contact’, you have to look directly at the camera. One tip that makes it easier to maintain eye contact is to attach googly eyes on either side of your computer webcam, which simulates real eye contact.
Additionally, you should do your best to display genuine emotion. Interviewers will always prefer people who seem excited and enthusiastic about the position. Remember that you want to make your best first impression, and show them that you would be a good person to work with. Be polite, cheerful, and professional.
Preparing for the Interview
Test your technology several days before the interview. Confirm that your microphone and camera both work, and that you have the necessary applications for the video call- Skype, Google Meet, and Zoom are commonly used by corporations. If you already have the application the interview will use, make sure your username is professional. Check your technology early, and give yourself plenty of time in case you need to update your technology, get it fixed, or replace it.
Otherwise, you should prepare for a video interview like you would for a normal interview. Rehearse your answers to common interview questions, conduct mock interviews with friends or family, and write down your main talking points so you don’t get off track. One great way to practice is to video yourself answering interview questions; watching the video after gives you an accurate look at what the interviewer will see.
Follow these steps, be yourself, and treat it like an in-person interview – you’ll do great!