Virtual / Video interviews have been around for years but really became popular during the recent Covid 19 lockdown. In some cases, they have even replaced the face-to-face interview altogether but I do believe that when it is possible it is still very beneficial to be able to meet face to face and to see the offices and potential colleagues in a work environment.
However, Virtual interviews are still extremely beneficial in respect of convenience, less travel and expense and not having to book time off work. They mean that employers can quickly arrange to speak to potential candidates, and they are a popular stage in the interview process which I think is here to stay.
Different companies will use different technologies, but the current favourites seem to be Teams, Zoom and Google Hangouts. Very rarely does a company use Facetime our WhatsApp video as it just does not seem as professional.
Top Virtual Interview Tips
- Confirm acceptance of the interview
- Ensure you have the correct details of who you will be meeting, their position in the company. Time, Date, and how (zoom or Teams link).
- Double, Triple check the time and date for the interview. You need to be punctual in the same way as you would for a face to face interview. I think it is good manners to be ready and waiting on the call 5 minutes before the scheduled time.
- Research the company and their dress code. Dress professionally at least look smart and not be in your joggers or worse still your pyjamas!
- Have a quick check to see what is being shown behind you! (maybe clean up this small area, think of all these Instagrammers; I cannot believe their houses are really that tidy!)
- Have a trial run with either the recruiter or a friend to ensure that the camera and microphone is working and is set at a good angle and eye level
- Practice, practice, practice. Practice with your webcam and screen before. It might be useful to higher your screen or laptop (maybe on some books) to give a more flattering angle. I have noticed even on the television people not doing this and then realising halfway through an interview that the camera is directly pointing up a nostril and becoming increasingly distracted by this and not focusing on the task in hand.
- Ensure your internet connection is stable.
- Close any unnecessary tabs and applications.
- Be prepared technically to potentially share your screen and here is how; Show your screen during a meeting (microsoft.com) or Sharing your screen or desktop on Zoom – Zoom Support
- Find a quiet, private, well-lit place, free from possible interruptions.
- Do full preparation as you would for a face to face interview. Prepare questions to ask and think of examples and short stories to help demonstrate your skills, achievements and experiences when answering questions. You could have these as notes to glance at easily.
- Check for glare, main culprits are glasses, watches and jewellery. You can try and reduce glare by moving lamp behind computer, turn yourself or computer, lowering window blind, raise or lower laptop screen.
- Have a pen, notepad and copy of your CV on your desk ready.
- Show you are listening! Nod and smile to show you are engaged.
- Use hand gestures (not rude ones!)
- Sit up straight.
- Makes sure your mobile is switched to Silent mode.
- Eye contact is very important during a face to face interview and you still want to maintain that level of connection during a video interview, however alien and awkward this may feel to you.
- Try to avoid the instinct to look directly at your interviewer on the screen and try to instead direct your gaze at the webcam. By doing this it is likely that your eyes will align more with the interviewers. When you are listening look back at the screen.
- On the subject of being distracted, try to make sure you will not be distracted by “others”. Either by locking the kids and pets out of the room or by asking everyone on your household nicely to leave you alone for half an hour.
- Set out a bottle or glass of water for yourself (just in case) you have a dry mouth attack! However, tempting as it may be, please don’t decide to have a Corona beer at the ready for this purpose.
- Build rapport, as you would in a face to face environment try to start with some small talk or neutral topic.
What if after getting all this in place, things do still go wrong?
Don’t melt into a mess and give up all hope! You can still save the day. Before the interview try to see if you can have a backup phone number in case technology fails.
If suddenly noise interrupts such as sirens, or more likely in my house sudden manic dog woofing as they have spotted someone 3 gardens away just know where the mute button is. With your ninja skills at the ready maybe no one will notice. If you are not quite that quick yet, just apologise and ask for a few moments until the noise has gone.
If the lock, bribery or asking nicely has not worked and someone does enter the room during the interview. Quickly apologise, mute the microphone, turn off the camera and quickly deal with this before returning to the interview.
Best of luck and remember to follow up within 24 hours.