How to Nail Your Next Virtual Interview
One of the myriad ways in which the pandemic has totally upended our lives is the skyrocketing popularity of virtual interviews. Even as workers begin to slowly trickle into the office, hiring managers have discovered initial interviews conducted virtually are often easier and more cost effective than face-to-face meetings. So now that it seems this method has become a new way of (work) life, how do you feel confident for your next virtual interview?
Prepare your “interview room”
Whether it’s your kitchen, living room, or bedroom, take a critical look at the space you want to use for your interview and turn it into a bastion of professionalism. Make sure the entire area is clean and uncluttered. Your background should consist of either a blank wall or a very minimally decorated one.
If you absolutely cannot find a place that is sufficiently free of stuff, insert a neutral (i.e., plain white, generic office, etc.) virtual background—but be aware those sometimes glitch, which means your real background might inadvertently show up unplanned. Harvard Business Review also points out that lighting is a big deal. They suggest using a “cool light” instead of a warm one, citing 95 percent of the recruiters they spoke to prefer that look. Just be sure whatever light you use, it’s coming from the front to avoid shadows.
Practice, practice, practice
Some aspects of a video interview don’t change at all from an interview in person—including the need to practice your answers to common interview questions in advance.
While it’s perfectly reasonable (and advisable) to have short answers to these questions written down on a piece of paper for handy reference, practicing beforehand—preferably in front of another person or a mirror—can help the conversation flow more naturally when the real event takes place. Indeed also recommends jotting down questions you have for the company, both before the actual interview and while the interview is taking place. Most employers will see this as “a sign of good preparation and an indication of solid organizational skills.”
In addition to practicing and creating questions, don’t forget your other standard interview preparation. This includes researching the company, having a handy list of your experience as it relates to the specific job post that you’re applying for, and finding out beforehand who, exactly, will be interviewing you.
Formalize your body language
Video interviews can be tricky because they dampen your ability to communicate via body language. Since shaking hands with your interviewer is impossible, a smile and wave at the beginning and end of the interview are perfectly acceptable. Throughout your meeting, sit up straight and maintain eye contact with your interviewer. If you get stumped by a question, however, it’s fine to break eye contact to look off in the distance. Just be sure you remain poised and say something to indicate you’re carefully considering the question (“Hmm, let me think about that for a moment”). That gives you the chance to gather your thoughts without seeming panicked.
The Muse emphasizes the importance of finding a “comfortable” distance from your camera that has you looking straight ahead as opposed to down or at an angle. To make this easier, be sure the window where the interviewer will appear is as close to the actual camera as possible, so you’ll naturally be looking at them and at the camera simultaneously. This is where doing a test run before the actual interview becomes vital: Not only do you want to make sure your camera and microphone are in good working order and your knowledge for the video platform is solid, but this is also the chance to play around with angles, backgrounds, etc. A live interview is not the time for surprises!
As virtual interviews increasingly become the new normal, it’s important that job seekers become more comfortable navigating through the world of cameras and microphones. With a little preparation and a lot of confidence, you won’t bat an eye no matter what form your next interview takes.