Are you preparing for a virtual interview? Does it seem like an awkward situation?
Virtual contact with the rest of the world has become routine in our social interactions with family, friends, professors and coworkers since the Covid-19 measures were imposed. It is likely that virtual interviews will become the "new normal" in the job market to screen candidates while reducing unnecessary contact between interviewers and a large pool of candidates.
If you are uncomfortable about interviewing using a virtual tool (ex. Skype, Zoom, FaceTime) we have 7 strategies to build your confidence and set the optimum environment to a successful virtual interview:
1. First impressions still matter.
Even though you are interviewing from your bedroom you must look and sound professional, so dress as if you were to meet the interviewer in-person. You can discover the company’s dress code on its website and follow the guidelines to cause a great first impression and boost your confidence. Verify your technology is working well in advance of the interview (internet connectivity, camera and microphone) to avoid glare, echo and poor communication.
2. Avoid distractions during the interview.
You are the centre of attention during the interview so eliminate sources of distraction. Ensure your pet, child or partner will not interrupt your interview. Turn off your mobile to avoid looking into your social media. Do not eat or drink during the interview besides being unprofessional the microphone amplifies the noise you make.
3. Take notes.
This small gesture shows your interest in the job and company, and the information you collect will be invaluable to prepare for the next interview stage. Pen and paper is the best option to avoid multitasking by note-taking on your mobile.
4. Use a neutral background.
It shows organization and professionalism, so have a clean wall behind you or an extremely organized bookshelf (mind the titles of the books you are exhibiting!). Avoid placing paintings behind you as they might distract the interviewer. Make sure there is enough light in the room to avoid a feeling of gloominess that might negatively affect the interviewer's mood. Finally, avoid having an open window behind as bright light overshadows your face.
5. Allow the interviewer to speak first.
Online meetings have time lags so avoid speaking at the same time as your interviewer. Wait for a pause to ask questions, and speak slowly and clear. Sit up straight on your chair and do not move abruptly or fidget, you want to convey calm and confidence. Show interest by looking straight into the camera, as research shows that employers are more likely to remember what you said if you keep eye contact. However, avoid staring at the interviewer. For example, you could check your notes to break eye contact for a few seconds.
6. Overprepare for the interview.
Once invited for a virtual interview start to prepare immediately. Research the company’s mission statement, strategic vision, growth plan and the team members interviewing you. Linkedin is a good tool to research your interviewer's background, current projects and career progression. GradProSkills hosts the webinar Preparing for Interviews (GPCB501) to help grad students to identify resources for preparing and practicing for interviews. There are a few recurrent questions in job interviews that you can prepare for, and be ready to answer “Do you have any questions for me?”
7. Practice virtual meetings with family and friends.
Connect online with friends, family, cohort and your supervisor. Practice interview questions, also called a mock interview, with a friend, and ask for feedback on your answers, voice and posture in front of the camera. Practicing is better than memorizing how you will behave in front of the camera, while it ensures you will look like yourself.
After the interview, take the opportunity to send a thank you email to the people who interviewed you, and make yourself available to follow-up any questions. This gesture shows your professional communication style and that you care about your professional relationships.