It’s the new normal. Yes, Covid has brought on massive shifts in all areas of our lives and particularly in the area of work.
One of the biggest changes that we’ve been seeing is the rise of virtual interviewing.
Interview sessions on zoom/Google Meets etc can appear informal and relaxed. But there are still things you’d need to pay attention to. Here are some tips you can use to ace the virtual interview!
#1 Dress up for it
Yes, you may be lounging around in bed for the call (I hope not) or at your desk or somewhere comfortable. Still, pay attention to what you will be wearing. I’ve been in meetings where male colleagues or clients have appeared topless and stuff. Don’t. Do. That.
You don’t have to be dressed in full corporate clothing, but putting on something presentable – at least for your top half where people can see your torso, does help. It also helps to psychologically put you in the mood for an interview and for work. It’s psychological, but when you put on outfits associated with a certain context, your brain responds accordingly. Putting on work clothing will bring about an air of seriousness and abit of that work attitude which you would need for an interview.
#2 Have a designated space set up for virtual interviews
And make sure that your family knows your schedule. There’s nothing more awkward than having half-dressed family members waltz into view or have someone burst into your room saying something personal and possibly inappropriate, with the whole interview panel listening in.
Set up a space in the corner of your room at your desk. Some of us have no proper working/studying area, so a bed or sofa might be your next best option. Just make do with what you have and ensure that the environment is a conducive one to hold an interview.
You don’t want distractions so you can concentrate on saying the right thing!
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#3 Check that everything is working
Nothing sucks more than signing in 5 minutes before your interview and realising that you cannot connect, or your camera isn’t working, you haven’t got the right mic etc. It will be far too late to fix anything and you will come across looking quite unprofessional if you have to re-schedule at the very last minute or if you constantly have tech glitches on your end.
Give yourself ample time to test out everything and get things repaired or replaced if needed. See it as a long-term investment, as virtual interviews will be here to stay.
#4 Watch that background
The thing I actually loathe sometimes about virtual interviews or video team meetings of any kind is that you always have to be mindful of what or who appears in the background when you have your camera turned on. If you don’t have a proper designated space to do video calls, and have to do it in the living room/dining area/random corners in the house – you risk your family making cameos or showcasing unwanted things in your background to everyone on your call.
I love platforms which allow you to blur your background or choose an alternative background for yourself. If the platforms that you are doing your interview have those options, then use them!
But if that is not an option, ensure that you are against a wall – the safest option – or against a blank background where nobody can make sudden, unwelcome appearances, and you aren’t flashing the contents of your messy bedroom/unmade bed/clothes-strewn bedroom floor to everyone on screen.
Struggling with your career? Aren’t sure if you are in the right job? Nervous about the upcoming interview? Or perhaps you have a really toxic work culture/boss/management and you are not sure how to deal? Come drop your question in 100 words over here, and I will write back with some solutions 🙂
#5 Appear more engaged than usual
Virtual interviews are interesting. You are at a distance from them – literally and figuratively. The screen acts as a block to emotional connection. It can be very hard to tell if you are happy or unhappy etc. Also, because you aren’t in the same room, the non-verbal, body language cues are all missing.
Thus it helps to smile more, nod more, gesture more. It will also help to keep your energy up, as virtual interviews can sometimes feel quite draining and quite low energy. It also helps to make others feel more connected to you.
#6 Have positive, open body language
As you feel comfortable wherever you are, it can be very easy to start slouching or lying back or resting your head in your hand. It helps to be mindful of what your interviewer or recruiter is experiencing on the other side of the screen, and how those behaviours might be coming across to him/her.
You may be trying to look relaxed or comfortable but may be coming across like you’ve got an attitude problem. Think about how you’d behave in a face-to-face interview. Would you slouch or talk whilst resting your head on your hand? It’s not much different for virtual interviews, really.
So – don’t slouch, sit upright – you don’t have to be ramrod straight in your seat, be comfortable but in a way that conveys your professionalism too. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, just rest them in front of you.
And of course, smile! It doesn’t just help to convey a positive open attitude, but I’ve noticed that smiling makes you feel happy and increases your confidence as well. It’s all about fakin it til you make it!
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#7 Speak clearly
Even if your mic may be working and the internet connection on all ends is incredibly stable, there could still be delays, static and all sorts of things that happens with technology.
So speak clearly, enunciate your words and take pauses. Pausing is so incredibly important when engaging with others virtually. It’s just so easy to go on and on without realising you are speaking to people on the other side of the screen. As it’s harder to interrupt naturally and may be disruptive doing so, some people are less inclined to cut in and may just let you drone on and on although they cannot really make out what you are saying.
Which brings me to my next point…
#8 Check in with people from time to time
As it’s incredibly easy to forget that they are humans listening on the other side of your screen, it helps to pause from time to time just to check that everyone is alright and they are following along with whatever you are saying.
Why is this important? Communicating virtually can affect the flow of conversation – it can be difficult to cut in and have a back and forth about whatever you are talking about. So some people may just be really quiet and be waiting for the time to speak. Checking in gives them airtime and honestly, lots of them will be grateful and relieved you do it – it’s a sign of good (virtual) manners!
Virtual interviews will probably become the next new normal in the selection process so it helps to be able to do it well. A lot of the non-verbal communication and nuances tend to get lost virtually, so it helps to be even more demonstrative during virtual interviews, to allow for human connection.