In the past, interview preparation mainly involved dusting off your best corporate attire, planning how you’d get there on time, and practicing a firm handshake. Nowadays, you’re more likely to be logging in to a videoconferencing tool, ensuring you have a reliable internet connection, and pondering over which background makes you look your best.
First, let’s look at the upsides of virtual interviewing. There are no dramas of getting stuck in traffic and arriving late, you can refer to reference notes without being too obvious, you’re likely to be in the comfort of your own home, and you only need to dress the part from the waist up. Also, if an interstate role has caught your eye, you don’t have to cross the country to convince the boss you’re the best candidate for the job.
Now the downsides. Combine technical problems, like talking while your mic is dropping in and out, with unforeseen distractions, like having your cat’s butt making a guest appearance, and things don’t always go to plan in the world of virtual interviewing. You also don’t get to visit the office to get a feel for the company vibe and meet potential colleagues. You may even be up against greater competition now that more people have access to more jobs using virtual platforms.
According to LinkedIn, 65% of professionals agree that the impression you make online is just as important as the one you make in person. While the thought of doing a virtual interview may leave your palms feeling sweaty – at least you’re not shaking anyone’s hand – there are several steps you can take to ensure you’re as prepared as you can be.
Set up your space
Have a clean, uncluttered background that is free of distractions, or choose a simple virtual background. You want recruiters to see you in the best light, both literally and figuratively, so ensure your picture is bright enough that you can be seen clearly. Try to use cool rather than warm light. According to Harvard Business Review, cool light emits a modern, clean, and brighter look, which was favoured by 95% of recruiters they spoke to.
Prepare like you normally would
As with any interview, you’ll optimise your results if you take the time to prepare in advance. This means researching the company and learning as much as you can about their values, mission and culture. It also means preparing answers in advance to anticipated questions such as, ‘Why would you like to work with us?’ and ‘Tell us about yourself’. A note of caution – just because you’re behind a computer screen, don’t rely on pre-written answers. Prepare so you’re able to have a natural conversation rather looking rehearsed or worse, reading directly from a script.
Test your technology ahead of time
Be sure you have access to whatever videoconferencing tool you’ll be using for the interview and familiarise yourself with how it works. Also test your camera and microphone, ideally live, perhaps with a friend who’s willing to hop online with you. A day before your virtual interview, check your technology to ensure it works effectively and the connection is strong enough to sustain streaming video. If you encounter issues, be sure to have a ‘Plan B’ location.
Use professional body language
Sit up straight and ensure your camera is placed so your face is in the centre of the screen. Find ways to exude enthusiasm, like smiling, nodding your head and maintaining eye contact. You can build rapport through small talk, such as asking your interviewer how their experience has been using virtual interviewing. They’re sure to have a story or two to tell.
Did you know you can practice your interview techniques through UniHub? You can select from a range of recommended interviews or choose particular questions to combine and create your own practice interview.