Checklist: Ace Your Virtual Interview
It’s easy to get down on virtual interviewing; it’s awkward, it’s unnatural, it’s dehumanizing. It’s difficult to forge a real rapport. It’s not as conducive to casual chit chat. The list goes on.
Yet if you really think about it, many of those things are true even of in-person interviews. Awkward and unnatural are just part of the interviewing experience, and virtual interviews are no exception.
Right now people across the country are looking for work. If you’re lucky enough to have an interview lined up, here’s how to prepare for it successfully. We’ve passed on these same tips to people interviewing right now:
1. Choose the right location
- Background: Set your computer up in front of a neutral, tidy background. Pay close attention to everything visible within the frame of your webcam.
- Lighting: Facing a window is ideal, though not necessarily critical. What you really want to avoid is being lit from behind, which will frame you as a silhouette.
- Noise control: Switch your phone to silent, shut the door, and make sure your kids and/or pets are occupied for the duration of the interview.
- Internet connection: It’d be such a pity if you set up the perfect backdrop, only to find that your internet connection is weak in that location. Make sure you test appropriately before choosing a room.
2. Tinker with your computer
- Test your mic and webcam: For all its advantages, technology has the potential to be a lot less reliable than face-to-face interactions.
- Close all unused tabs, windows, and applications to improve the speed of your computer. If your computer is still running slow, restart it.
- Mute all notifications like messaging pop-ups, email notifications, and social media pings.
3. Look your best
- Camera position: Position the webcam so it is aimed at eye-level, with a small amount of empty space above your head. If you’re working on a laptop, we suggest propping it up on a box or some books to avoid any unattractive angles.
- Professional attire: This is still an interview, after all. Dress as you would if going into the office – professional clothing (minimal patterns, softer colors), washed and styled hair, makeup (if that’s something you usually wear).
4. Prepare questions
- The night before, take a few minutes to consider what questions you might want to ask. Here are a few of our favorite questions, if you need inspiration. Since this is a video interview, you can attach post-its around your computer screen with prompts, questions, information about the interviewer (name, title), etc.
5. Gather your supplies
- Resume and job description: Print your resume and job description and have them with you during the interview, just as you would in person. The interviewer may very well refer to specifics from your resume throughout the conversation and you don’t want to appear distracted by clicking between windows or typing.
- Paper and pen: Again, imagine you were in a normal interview setting. You don’t want to be taking notes on your computer, leading the interviewer to think you are distracted or unfocused. Write notes down on a visible piece of paper.
- Glass of water: Calm your nerves and buy yourself a moment to breathe by sipping water throughout the conversation.
6. Be ready 10-15 minutes in advance
- Just as with a traditional interview, you don’t want to be rushing at the last minute.
7. Your face says more than words
- Nod and smile: It’s important that you communicate your enthusiasm and engagement throughout the interview. Don’t be shy about nodding, smiling, and making sounds of affirmation when you agree with something.
- Eye contact: Don’t let your eyes roam around the screen – instead, keep your eyes focused on your interviewer, just as you would in person.
8. Be patient and flexible
- Don’t sweat the little things: Everyone needs to be flexible in these times, candidates and interviewers included. If your dog barks – it’s fine. If the internet connection lags and you end up talking over one another – don’t worry about it. It is what it is. Just do your best and move forward.
- Prepare for the worst: We recommend keeping the phone number of the interviewer/conference line close at hand in case the video connection is unexpectedly lost. If your interview is disrupted by something at home – excuse yourself politely, mute the line, turn off the webcam, and quickly resolve the issue.
9. End the call
- We’ve heard horror stories of candidates (and hiring managers!) failing to end the meeting. Double and triple check that you’ve hung up and ended the webcam sharing to ensure privacy after the call.
Following these suggestions will help set you up for a successful interview. Now all you have to do is prepare for the questions you’ll inevitably receive – some of which you can find here.
I know that we’re all just trying to navigate this strange new world and I’m happy to answer any of your questions. Shoot me an email and I’ll try my best to help. Stay safe out there, everyone!
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