Virtual interviews are on the rise thanks to more companies embracing a dedicated workforce of full-time employees, contractors, and consultants who work from home.
On top of this, COVID19 stay-at-home orders required many companies and workers to quickly adapt to collaborating and interviewing through video, chat, and an increased amount of emails.
As a recruiter, I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates in person, on the phone, and through video. Some interviews were exclusively video end to end, and others eventually came on-site for in-person interviews. My experiences, learnings, and research bring me to you today!
Whether you’re new to virtual interviewing or consider yourself a pro, I know you’ll find this list of virtual interview tips helpful.
1. Dial Into Virtual Interviews With Your Phone and Prep
If you’re invited to a virtual interview, I recommend taking the video portion of the call from a computer or tablet that can be placed on a sturdy surface in a well lit location. Remember to charge your device before the interview and if you can, leave it plugged in, just in the event your interview runs long, computer batteries will be the last thing you worry about.
Be mindful of what will be seen in the background behind you. Ideally, get the camera to be at eye level, and avoid any dirty laundry piles in the video frame.
I also think it’s a great idea to find 1-2 shirts that you feel comfortable wearing during interviews and other video meetings. Keep them ironed and handy for scheduled and last minute video calls.
Dressing professionally not helps you look your best, but psychologically it can help you get into a better mindset for your interview so that you bring your best self to the interview.
Interviews are nerve-racking enough, and you don’t want to worry about how you look or feel while trying to do your best in an interview.
As a backup audio source, dial into the call. This helps in the event your computer dies, Zoom crashes, or your wifi is slow that day. Speaking of slow wifi, you can test your wifi speed before your interview here.
Make the decision before the video interview begins to dial in, don’t wait for the audio to be choppy in the middle of your interview to do this.
If you know your wifi is typically slow, plan for this in advance.
You may not be able to go to a friend’s apartment, a family member’s place, or an office space to take an interview.
But you can choose to dial in via audio as a backup and let your interviewer know at the top of your call that you’re dialed in via phone so you can hear them and not to worry if your video is choppy.
You can learn how to join a meeting by phone on Zoom here.
You can learn how to use a phone for audio in a video meeting in Google Meet here.
Again, I highly recommend testing this out before your interview so that you can confidently do so on the day of your interview.
2. Be Sure To Download Your Video Conference Software Before The Call
As soon as your interview is scheduled, do your best to download and test the video conferencing software you’ll be using on your interview.
Be sure to update your computer software and download any last-minute updates released by the video conferencing software to avoid any same-day hiccups.
You can find the latest Zoom updates here.
If you’re new to virtual interviewing, become familiar with the tools you’ll be using in your job search. You can do this by hosting a mock interview or test call with a friend or family member,
You want to feel confident during your interview, so do what it takes to get you there.
3. Turn Off Notifications on Your Computer
I recommend turning your computer’s notifications off before your interview.
I’ve been on plenty of video calls where the candidate keeps getting texts and notifications that make loud sounds throughout the call.
This can be distracting both for you and the interviewer.
It’s good practice to do this with both your phone and computer before the start of your interview.
4. Be Honest About Your Interview Environment And Plan Accordingly
If you live in a loud environment or with roommates, do your best to plan accordingly.
If you have roommates, find a clear communication style that works for you to communicate what days and times are quiet hours for your interviews.
Here are a few ideas:
Write a post-it note and tape it to your apartment door to let neighbors and friends know you’re on an important call and to please avoid knocking between certain hours.
When new neighbors moved into my apartment building, we kept missing each other due to our opposite work schedules to introduce ourselves. The worst thing was they’d consistently knock during times when I was trying to interview candidates or record training videos.
Eventually, I introduced myself via letter and let them know that I film a lot of videos in my place and that if they see a sign on my door, please avoid knocking, but I’m happy to meet and greet when the time aligns which we eventually did.
Send your roommates a calendar invite to keep everyone on the same page.
I once had a roommate who created a Google Calendar that we would add to when we had guests stay over for an extended time to avoid us over-committing our ability to host guests.
This was a great way for us to avoid over-committing to hosting our friends in our tiny apartment.
This could also be used to keep roommates on the same page when you’re interviewing and eventually working from home.
If you have a roommate group chat, you can notify your roommates when the interview starts and when it ends via text to avoid confusion.
While interviewing candidates on Zoom or even on a phone call, I often find myself hearing an echo when I speak.
This can be caused by having your computer or phone on the speaker or by dialing in from your phone but forgetting to mute yourself on your computer.
Sometimes this also occurs when interviewing through Bluetooth speakers or your car.
It can be extremely brutal to deal with an echo and can distract your interviewer while they’re trying to ask you questions or listen to your responses.
The best thing you can do is use headphones.
If you’re using Bluetooth headphones, be sure to make sure they’re fully charged and designed for calls. Some headphones do not have a built-in speaker in them, as they’re designed to hear things, not for conversations. When you can’t hear a candidate clearly, it’s extremely distracting and transfers attention away from your answer and trying to make out what you are saying.
If you have a plugin in pair, I recommend keeping them on your desk in the event you need to use them.
The best thing you can do before an interview is to test your audio setup with a friend. Not only should your friend review how you sound, but if possible, trade headsets with a friend to have a better understanding of what you sound like.
If you’re testing this with a friend virtually, have them record a quick session of you speaking together back and forth.
So many people have audio issues that go unnoticed because they don’t test this.
When your interviewer finishes a sentence, wait a few seconds to make sure they’ve finished their thought to avoid speaking over them.
6.Review Your Calendar Invite And Address Any Questions About The Meeting Link Asap
This happens all of the time.
I conveniently program our scheduling tool to provide a candidate with detailed information on the interview via email and in a calendar invite, including meeting links and an option to dial in as backup audio and the same day, minutes before the interview, or worse, after it starts, I get a startling email from a candidate looking for the meeting link or calling into the company sales line to find me because I “missed my call with them” for a video interview.
If you’re confused about meeting arrangements, ask when the interview is scheduled, not the day of the interview.
This is a great way to show that you’re proactive by asking questions before you need to and avoids you from looking like you lack basic tech skills desired for the role.
7.Know Who You’re Meeting With
Before the day of your interview, research who will be interviewing, what they look like and how they pronounce their names.
Know how long they’ve been in the company, their progression in their career, and gather questions to ask them in advance.
It can also be helpful to understand who you’re speaking with before they introduce themselves.
You can do this by looking up your interviewers on LinkedIn and on the company team pages.
Ask for the names of who you’ll be meeting with before your virtual interview is scheduled, and also check the calendar invite for that information.
You can google annunciation and checkout Linkedin profiles as they recently rolled out a new feature that allows people to share how their name is said.
8. Do Your Research, Do Not Rely On Google In Front Of You
Do your research in advance!
Do not rely on Googling answers and information you could have prepped in advance while on a virtual interview.
It will be very obvious what you’re doing.
I like to keep people’s Linkedin profiles open on the side just in case for reference.
9. Make Eye Contact And Avoid Reading Answers Off A Screen
Virtual interviews can mimic in-person interviews as much as you’d like them to be if you start by considering your body language.
People can notice if you’re looking at them or looking in the distance, it’s ok to be nervous and look away but focus on looking at your interviewer, and not yourself in the corner.
If it’s helpful, follow these instructions to hide your face from yourself during virtual interviews.
Avoid reading your notes word for word, whether it’s physical or digital notes. It makes it seem like you’re super unprepared.
Instead, have queue cards, index cards with large words to trigger certain responses.
10. Keep Questions and Notes on Physical Paper in Front of You
Prepare your notes in advance and have them on a piece of paper in front of you. You don’t want to worry about flipping through different tabs and juggling your virtual interview.
If you’re walking through a presentation virtually, have your presentation notes on hand. I’ve seen it time and time again where people broadcast their screen only to become startled when they realize they can’t present and see their presenter notes simultaneously.
Again, this is about being proactive.
Finally, be sure to have questions to ask. It’s not ok to walk away saying that you don’t have any questions and that they addressed all of the questions you had on the call.
To be safe, I’d prepare 20 questions to address on your call. Order them in a way that can naturally flow into each other like a conversation.
Reaching out to a Career Coach like myself or another trusted professional can really help to accelerate your job search, especially if you’re feeling stalled.
Guest blog post by Destiny Lalane
I’m a Recruitment Consultant obsessed with the future of work and tech. I have a deep passion for helping people find stimulating careers and lifestyles that fuel their health.
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