Virtual interviews have become a common experience for many job seekers in today’s economy. In fact, online job interviews have increased 49 percent since 2011.
While the format has changed, the important elements of an interview have stayed the same. In 39 percent of cases, candidates don’t get hired because of perceived low confidence, voice quality, and lack of a smile. When you’re not in the same room as your interviewer, it becomes more difficult to showcase these elements, and technology can get in the way as well. Here are our tips for presenting your best self in a virtual interview.
- Check the Tech
First and foremost, you need to be sure your computer, camera, and Internet connection will work for you when you need them. Do a test run with a friend or family member through Zoom or Google. Get their feedback on the lighting, image quality, sound quality, etc. This will help you avoid showing up to the interview as a laggy, garbled-sounding shadow person.
- Use Your Environment
It’s not just the technology that needs to be considered, but also the location of the interview. Assess what can be seen in the background and if it reflects the values and personality you want to convey. If not, consider staging your room or home office for the interview. You can put the posters back up later.
- Eliminate Distractions
It’s also important to conduct the interview in a quiet, calm place. If you have kids at home or a dog in the neighborhood that won’t stop barking, consider relocating to a quiet space, like a library study room. Do not conduct a video interview from a coffee shop or other noisy public location. Not only will it be distracting, but also it will make your interviewer question what working with you long-term will be like.
- Prepare Conversation Topics
Of course, there are standard interview questions to prepare for, but it’s also a great idea to be prepared to make small talk through the screen. Avoid news and politics in favor of discussing a common interest, sharing a short anecdote about your recent wins, or asking the interviewer how the virtual process has been going.
- Dress for Success
Even though you might be in your house during the interview, you must still dress appropriately for the meeting. What would this company expect you to wear if you were coming to the office? Wear the same thing to the virtual interview.
- Look Into the Camera
Eye contact is essential during an interview, but on a webcam, how do you know where anyone is looking? To appear as confident and engaged as possible, look directly into your camera. If your laptop has a webcam built in, this will likely be pretty easy. If you are using an external camera, put it as close to your monitor as possible, where you can also capture your best angle and background.
- Be Honest and Authentic
This tip applies to all interviews, but especially a virtual one, where there’s more potential for things to go wrong. If ambient noise or a bad Internet connection causes issues, be direct about it. This might even be easier in the comfort of your own home versus being in the company’s offices.
- Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
From your technology and environment to the questions and answers you can expect to exchange about the job, showing your best self in a virtual interview takes preparedness. While you can’t control everything, following the steps on this list will give you confidence that will come across in the meeting.
Studies haven’t been able to agree on how long we have to make a great first impression. Some researchers say milliseconds, others say as long as 27 seconds. But what all the studies do agree on is that most of a first impression is formed before a person even has a chance to speak, especially regarding whether we consider a person trustworthy.
A virtual interview offers job candidates more of a chance to control this first impression. From your location to your clothes to the lighting and background details, use this opportunity to your advantage.