Virtual Interviews: 5 Ways to Make a Great Impression

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Virtual Interviews: 5 Ways to Make a Great Impression
Virtual Interviews: 5 Ways to Make a Great Impression



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Virtual interviews are becoming more common – if you’ve interviewed for a job in the past two years, chances are you’ve encountered an online interview scenario. Indeed, career opportunities platform Zippia reports that about 60% of recruiters are using video technology to interview remote candidates, and 81% predict that virtual recruiting will continue after the pandemic ends.

Platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, HireVue, WebEx and Hireflix have made the video interviewing process easy and affordable. Still, limiting your presence to an online scene is a difficult change for candidates who are used to shining in in-person interviews. Here are some tips to make sure your virtual interview is a success.

1. Familiarize yourself with the technology

There’s nothing worse than getting ready for an interview, clicking on the video chat link, and realizing you need to figure out how to download and use a new app—in a lot limited period of time.

Take time a day before the interview to test the interview links and make sure they work and won’t cause last-minute complications. While you’re doing this, download any online apps, block any cookies, access any browsers, and upgrade to any new operating systems you’ll need to use the links.

Once your laptop is able to run the video chat platform, test your interview setup, making sure your webcam and microphone are working properly and that you have access to a virtual background if needed. If your interview involves screen sharing a document or presentation, do a few test runs to make sure you’re comfortable accessing and using screen sharing mode.

2. Select the correct setting

You want to take your interview in a quiet environment with no distractions. This way, you’ll have your interviewer’s full attention and optimize your chances of a good performance.

If you are taking your interview from your place of residence, consider the noise levels. Is it being built next door? Can you hear your neighbors TV in the background? Will your dog start barking at the doorbell? Also, consider your wifi – if the signal is weak or spotty, consider booking a private room at a public library or asking a friend with a comfortable office setting if you can take over for a few hours. Interviews are stressful enough on their own – factors like noise and internet connectivity shouldn’t add to your stress on the big day.

Finally, make sure your background is neat and clean. This means clean, professional and free of any personal or revealing items – you might need to take down your favorite band poster or a collage of pictures from your college days. There are other, easier alternatives; most video interview platforms have the option to blur your background or set it to neutral.

SEE: Your ultimate guide to preparing for a tech job interview

3. Prepare your desktop

An often overlooked benefit of virtual interviewing is access to your desktop. While in an ideal world you’d be able to recite your interview answers perfectly by heart, that’s not always the case—and your desktop can save you a few awkward moments.

Before the interview, you can download your resume, portfolio, company website or mission statement, job posting, or even a few bullet points of topics you want to cover during the interview to your desktop for easy access while you speak. This way, you can quickly refer to any relevant documents without awkwardly fumbling with off-screen documents or breaking eye contact with your interviewer. We don’t recommend reading directly from the documents you have access to, as this will likely be obvious to your interviewer and may come off as robotic, but having your information readily available will boost your confidence.

Don’t forget to anticipate screen-sharing scenarios, though—your interviewer may be surprised and confused when they suddenly find themselves looking at your bulleted answers to “My Biggest Weakness.”

SEE: How to perfectly answer the “tell me about yourself” interview question.

4. Check your schedule again

Virtual interviews allow companies and candidates to connect across continents and time zones – which, while amazing, can sometimes create confusion. Be sure to double-check the interview date and time, and always add the time zone (EST, PST, etc.) and “am” or “pm” to any discussion of the time to avoid possible miscommunication. After all, it can be hard to bounce back after accidentally no-showing an interview – first impressions are important, especially if you miss the chance to make your own.

In online interviews, punctuality is key as you lack the physical presence that usually creates a first impression. To make sure you’re on time, copy and paste the links to your interview somewhere easily accessible on your desktop (many computers offer paste-a-note functions for this purpose). This will eliminate the need to frantically search your inbox for an interview link five minutes before your appointment, which is always a stressful experience.

SEE: 41 Impressive Questions to Ask at a Job Interview

5. Practice virtual body language

Although many interviewers consider themselves experts in body language during an in-person interview, virtual interviews can be a whole new game. After all, great posture, while definitely a confidence booster, may not impress an interviewer who only sees your head.

During a virtual interview, make sure you maintain focus, establish eye contact, and pace your speaking. In virtual settings, even the smallest distraction can break your focus—and interviewers can tell when your eyes wander to a text notification in the corner of the screen. Take steps like disabling laptop notifications to ensure that annoying messages don’t interfere with your ability to connect virtually with your interviewer.

Another way to help you improve your online body language is to ask a friend to conduct a virtual virtual interview with you and give you feedback. During this round, practice looking into the camera while speaking and create an engaging and warm presence through the screen.

Use this opportunity to practice your speaking pace too – a common pitfall of virtual interviews is the time lag, which can reduce a candidate’s confidence and force them to babble awkwardly to fill space. Practice finishing your answer calmly, clearly and cleanly, and don’t be afraid to pause for a second while your interviewer processes or catches up on your statement – ​​it’s part and parcel of virtual territory.


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