Virtual Interview Tips Photo

Virtual Interview Tips

Evan Winter

Virtual interviews have now become the norm for the first round of almost anyone’s hiring process. If employers are not working in completely remote settings, they at least have practices in place to distance recruiting efforts in accordance with COVID-19 precautions. For many potential employees, this means their first experience with a virtual interview is likely right around the corner. Here are some tips to make sure you’re ready.

Have reliable equipment

The last thing you want is a technical difficulty during your interview. If you can’t communicate through reliable means, nothing else will matter. Make sure your equipment is plugged in or fully charged well before your scheduled interview time, and test everything beforehand. A reliable Internet connection that is quick enough to support video and audio calls is a must, and close as many unnecessary tabs, windows, and programs as you can. This both avoids stressing your machine, which could cause drops in call quality, and keeps you focused on the interview. If you can, use headphones with a built-in microphone or a headset to minimize background noise, make your voice clearer, and help you hear the interviewer.

Set the scene

During your virtual interview, you will likely be sitting in your office, den, dining room, or some other area of your home. This gives the interviewer a direct look into your personal space, so be sure to tidy up a bit and set the scene to make a great impression. Try to keep your backdrop simple, yet pleasant, and keep any awkward or distracting elements out of frame. Plan to have most light sources in front of your face instead of behind you, overhead, or off to either side. Be sure there is no glare, and don’t sit too close or too far away. All these measures help prevent unflattering shadows and ensure the interviewer can see you well. Try to avoid any possible interruptions by choosing a quiet, low-traffic room, and turn off any notifications from your computer and phone to prevent loud alarms, dings, or other distracting sounds.

Come prepared

Although they may feel very different, preparing for a virtual interview can in some ways be quite similar to prepping for one in person. As tempting as it may be to stay in the casual clothes you wear around the house, take the time to dress appropriately and look as presentable as you would for an in-person interview. Also pay attention to your posture and general body language to make sure you are not slouching, crossing your arms, or leaning in an awkward direction. Be ready to go early, and ask ahead of time how long the meeting is expected to be. You don't want the interview overlapping with other important plans for your day, or to miss lunch and suffer through the rest of your conversation with a growling stomach. Meeting for the first time can be nerve-racking as it is, but if you do not have much video call experience, you may want to plan your greeting to avoid any awkward first steps. Since you cannot shake hands, perhaps begin with a quick introduction, a smile, and a wave. As with any interview, research the employer and the role beforehand and prepare a list of questions. Before the interview ends, make sure to inquire about next steps so you are not waiting in the wings for an indefinite amount of time.

Get to know the workplace

Just because the interview is remote does not mean you have to miss out on experiencing the workplace. If they are able to do so, ask your interviewer to show you around. Even if they cannot, some programs have videos of the workplace available to potential employees, so it does not hurt to ask. Employers may even be able to set you up with a realtor for a virtual tour of the community. If these options are not available, ask whether the next interview can be in-person. That way, you can see the workplace, meet the staff, and get a feel for the surrounding area. This could be done at some point within the first interview or in a follow up email. 

Follow up

Don’t forget to send a follow up email! Reach out after your interview to thank everyone involved for their time and let them know you are available to answer any lingering questions or provide more information. If there was a specific topic on which you connected with an interviewer, you may want to mention it in your email. Keep the message concise, but reiterating high points from the interview can help you stay at the forefront of an interviewer’s mind. If you failed to do so at the end of your interview, ask when you can expect to hear back about further interviews or a hiring decision. It is typically recommended to send your follow up within 24 hours after your interview, but you may want to have it sent by the end of the business day on which your interview takes place.

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