Differences in Prepping for an In-person vs Virtual Interview
With the rapidly changing landscape of job interview processes, it is not surprising candidates often feel like they are getting whiplash. In-person interviews used to be the norm. Then suddenly video was all the rage. Now? It depends on the company. In other words, job candidates have to be ready for anything at this point. Now that (some) offices are opening up to in-person interviews again, read on for the main ways your interview preparation will shift away from the Zoom calls of yesterday.
1. Travel plans vs. technology issues
After the last few months (all right, years) of figuring out how to get the neatest backgrounds, crispest video image, and least amount of background noise during Zoom interviews, candidates will now celebrate not having to deal with the various technology issues and inevitable breakdowns that can occur when setting up a video meeting.
Instead, they have to take that extra time and invest it in planning on how to get to the actual interview location. Indeed recommends performing a trial run a day or two before the interview to get an accurate idea of how long it will take you to get there, whether you're driving yourself or taking public transportation. Also check out what kind of parking the building has, to see whether it is private, public, or street. Those minute details could potentially add minutes to your commute, tipping you toward the “barely on time” or even “late” category—a giant faux pas no matter what kind of interview you have. Remember a good goal to have is to arrive twenty minutes early to the interview. You do not want to waste those extra minutes frantically looking for a parking spot.
2. Words vs. body language
A major consideration during Zoom interviews is body language. Since you're not there in person, small gestures can add up, which is why so many advice articles (like this one from Inc.) recommend rehearsing your smile, nod, eye contact, etc. While the content of your interview answers is, of course, the most important piece potential employers will consider, body language via video tends to be a much more coordinated affair than when you are sitting in front of them in person.
Once you are in the office, you can relax a bit about body language (although a smile and eye contact are certainly still important!). Instead, you can spend more time prepping your answers to common interview questions and constructing good follow-up questions of your own.
3. Appearance vs. reality
For some, the biggest difference in preparation between a video interview and an in-person one is the necessity of putting on real pants. In that vein, do not forget the smaller details too. While Zoom interviews allowed leeway with appearance (like the parts of you that do not show on camera or the areas of your house that are not camera ready), those things will not slide when you are sitting just feet away from your interviewer.
This means you might have to think of things you have not paid attention to in a while. The Muse suggests shining your shoes, making sure your fingernails are neat, and taking care of any loose threads that could be hanging from your outfit. Prepare your bag (whether that means a purse or a briefcase) the day before and make sure it contains only what you need for the day of the interview: Extra resumes, a notepad, pens, and perhaps an emergency stain stick or breath mint.
Many things about the job interview process have drastically changed over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, that renders much of the job search advice floating around the Internet woefully outdated or just plain wrong. But no matter the format, just remember preparation is key. The more prepared you are (and the more prepared you feel), the more confident you can be that your qualifications will shine through, whether in person or on the computer screen.