With the ever-changing needs of the workforce and many companies hiring more remote employees while the job market expands its global reach, virtual interviews (such as Skype or Zoom) almost as commonplace as in-person. Preparing for a virtual interview differs slightly from preparing for an in-person interview. While you do want to prepare questions, research, and other tasks the same, there are a few changes you’ll need to make to your interview prep routine to ensure success.
Before the virtual interview is even scheduled, test your technology and ensure you have the proper set up to conduct one properly. While most modern web-based virtual meeting space software is easy to use and quick to install, software updates occur often and changes get made to the setup, be sure that you are up to date on the functionality and software needs before your five minute warning alarm goes off before the interview. Additionally, test your microphone and webcam to ensure they work properly and buy new if needed to avoid spending your interview repeating the question of “Can you hear or see me now?”.
The day of your interview double check that your equipment is working and use this time to set the scene for your interview. Remove any distractions from the sight of the webcam, including piles of laundry, an unmade bed, and even clutter that might distract your interviewer or you. It’s best to try to find a blank wall to sit in front of, but in many cases, that is not an option for people, so make the best of what you have, and just shove the laundry in the other room.
Just before your interview, turn off the TV and any other noises, close windows to avoid neighborhood noises interfering, and put your phone on silent just as if you were heading into an interview room. Avoid pop ups and other distractions on screen by closing out of everything on your computer, including your inbox, just before the interview starts as well.
While you may not be meeting in person, it is just as important to look the part in your interview. Do your hair and makeup (if you wear it) as if you were meeting in person and pick out an outfit that makes you look and feel confident and professional without being distracting with colors that might offset the camera settings or appear oddly on camera (such as thin stripes or zig zags).
You aren’t able to open the interview with a firm handshake, but you can ensure your body language is professional and proper throughout the interview. Make eye contact with the camera, use body language that shows you are attentive, and follow basic visual and verbal communication rules throughout the interview. In person it is much easier to tell when someone is finished speaking, however, due mostly in part to sound delays, when speaking to someone on a conference call style or one-on-one web interview delay your responses to any questions or comments by one to two seconds to avoid speaking over them and cutting them off unintentionally. While it may appear awkward to you to do so, it can save a lot of face and uncomfortable repeated apologies throughout your interview.
Although you are meeting via webcam instead of face-to-face, virtual interviews play by much of the same rules as in-person interviews. Avoiding committing common interview atrocities and abiding by proper interview etiquette is mandatory regardless of if your interview is in person, on the phone, or over the web.