The coronavirus has changed our lives in many ways, including how we interview for jobs. Although unemployment numbers have soared, some companies are still hiring. They are, for the most part however, using a technique not usually employed in the past – the video job interview.
Tech companies, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, were onboard early with the practice, and many others have followed. It’s impossible to know what will happen in the future, but video interviewing may go on for months to come.
How to prepare for a virtual interview
A virtual interview requires the same preparation as a regular interview. You need to:
- research the company and the hiring manager.
- put together a list of questions that you will ask.
- study a list of potential questions that you may be asked and practice them.
- get a good night’s sleep beforehand, etc.
There are, however, different requirements for these interviews that you should be aware of. Here are some of the things you need to do in preparation and during the interview:
What you need to do differently
Learn how to use the video conferencing software. If you’ve unfamiliar with the video conferencing software the hiring manager will use, look for some online tutorials on how to use it and go through them a few days before the interview
Make sure your technology works. First of all you’ll need a computer with a working camera and microphone. Make sure you have the bandwidth that can accommodate video streaming. Although a computer is preferable, if you don’t have one, you can use your smart phone or tablet. But be sure that whatever you use is propped up and doesn’t need to be held.
Choose a place with no distractions. Choose a quiet place for the interview. This could be a home office, if you have one, or the kitchen table or another quiet place at home. Make sure no one else will be around, and if you have a dog that barks, it might be best to put it outside or ask a friend to take care of it for an hour or two. It’s best to have a blank wall behind you so there are no distractions, and the hiring manager will concentrate on you instead of what else is in the room.
Make sure there’s plenty of light. This could be natural or artificial light, but it’s important that the hiring manager can see you clearly.
Dress professionally. Yes, you’re at home, but you still need to make a good impression. Wear the same sort of outfit that you would if you were going to an in-person interview. Avoid bright colors and elaborate jewelry, however, because these may be distracting online.
Get there early. This is just as important as when participating in a face-to-face interview, maybe even more so, since it may take a while to sign in.
Look into the camera. This may take some practice, maybe with a friend beforehand, but make sure you’re looking into the camera on your computer rather than the face of the hiring manager on the screen. Looking directly into the camera means you will be making eye-contact with the person interviewing you. And if you’re using your smart phone or a tablet, make sure you’re centered on the screen.
Speak carefully. When video conferencing, there can be lag time between what you say and when the person on the other end hears it, so speak slowly (but not too slowly to sound unnatural), and enunciate clearly. Also wait several seconds after the interviewer speaks to make sure you don’t interrupt them.
Don’t forget the importance of body language. Sit up straight with feet planted firmly on the floor. Make proper eye contact by looking into the camera on your computer. Don’t forget to smile.
Show enthusiasm. You won’t be able to start off the interview with a handshake, but you can show your enthusiasm when you first connect. Begin the interview by saying that you are happy to meet the hiring manager, and thank them for taking the time to talk to you.
Try a power pose. Right before the interview, you may want to try a power pose, but not in front of the computer or with the microphone on. Researchers have found that assuming a power pose for two minutes before an interview gives people the confidence they need to make a favorable impression.
Send a thank you note. Don’t forget to send a thank you note after you finish the interview. Since this can be an email or hand-written note, make sure you have the hiring manager’s email address or physical address, depending on which type you choose to send.