These days, virtual interviews are the new normal. While several aspects are the same as in-person interviews, there are many nuances you’ll need to consider. Read on for advice on how to make your next video interview a success.
Preparing for Your Virtual Interview
Like any interview, you only get one chance to make a good impression, and proper preparation is essential. First, make sure your interview setting and background presents well, both visually and audibly. Your location should be clean with minimal distractions and background noise. The light source should be in front of, or alongside your webcam, as light from the back shadows your face, making it difficult for the interviewer to see your expressions. Ideally, the webcam should be positioned at or slightly above eye-level. And, if you use multiple monitors, make sure that your webcam is positioned over the monitor you’re using to display the video session, so you’re not looking off to one side.
It’s essential to make sure your technology is working correctly. Familiarize yourself with the specific platform your interviewer is using. This information is available in the meeting or calendar invitation or confirmation. Video platforms like Zoom, Go-to-Meeting, Microsoft Teams, and Google have similar functionality, but video and audio controls appear in different places. Make sure you know where and how to activate audio and video prompts for the appropriate platform. Plan to log-in a few minutes early so you can test your camera and audio settings.
Before your interview, ensure sure you have fast internet or wi-fi connection and that your webcam, headset/speakers, and computer are working and fully charged. It’s optimal to be hardwired into your modem for seamless connectivity, but if you’re on wi-fi, double check that all other programs and platforms are off to ensure faster speed. Virtual backgrounds that utilize graphics, scenery, or simulated office settings are popular, but chew up bandwidth and are not recommended.
Finally, just as if you were meeting in-person, make sure your phone is on silent, and that you’ve turned off phone and computer notifications to avoid distractions.
Dress Codes, Body Language, and Best Practices:
While dress-codes have relaxed in this work-from-home era, you should be well-groomed and wear appropriate clothing. Even though you’re not going into an office, you should dress and act as formally as you would if you were meeting in person. Anything too casual, graphic, with noticeable stains, tears, or worn seams is not acceptable. Men should opt for a collared button-down or polo shirt, and consider wearing a dark blazer or suit jacket, which can add an element of professionalism. Women should consider a blouse or sweater. It’s not necessary to be overly made-up, but essential to present a clean, well-rested appearance.
Common courtesies apply in video interviews as they do in person. While you likely won’t be offered coffee or water, you will need to exchange pleasantries just as though you were visiting an office. Be prepared to introduce yourself and engage with your interviewer. This probably won’t last more than 30 seconds, but it is important to break the ice and establish rapport. Sit up straight and look into your webcam as though the person you’re speaking to is across the table. This is particularly important if you’ll be referring to off-camera notes. It’s often helpful to tape notes to the top of your lap- or desktop screen, so you can refer to them easily without looking too far off-screen.
There are other things you need to prepare for in a virtual interview similar to those of an in-person interview. Be sure to conduct research on the company and the interviewers before the interview. You also want to have a very clear understanding of the job description, your elevator pitch, and your resume, so you’ll be fully prepared for any questions.
Practice, Practice, Practice
A video interview is a hybrid between a phone screen and an in-person interview. When we prep candidates for a phone interview, we suggest they tell a story when answering a question and give behavioral answers because they cannot physically see you. This is just as important in a video interview, but you also have the advantage of showing some visual cues. This includes all of the behavioral attributes you would normally display in an in-person interview. Because you only have one shot at this interview, it’s crucial to practice to ensure everything goes smoothly. Before the interview, practice with a friend or a family member. Practicing allows you to gain confidence in your virtual interview setting and assure you that you know all of your technology will act accordingly.
Like you would in an in-person interview, it’s great to send a follow-up note afterward. You should send a follow-up letter no later than 24 hours after the interview and highlight key topics discussed in the interview. Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors and that the note is professional, so make sure to proofread or have someone proof it for you before sending it. Remember, spell-check can’t determine context, so don’t rely on it! If you’re working with a recruiter it’s best to send the note to them so they can review and forward to the client.
As mentioned, the most important thing you need to remember is that often you only get one video interview. If you don’t present well or don’t communicate well, you probably won’t proceed to the second round. This is where proper preparation comes in to make sure that one chance is all you need. The same care you take when making a good first impression in an in-person interview should be applied to a virtual interview.
The best tip for a successful virtual interview is to prepare, practice, and remain professional. If you have any questions on how to have a successful interview, feel free to reach out. Go get ‘em!
About Benchmark IT –Technology Talent
Benchmark IT –Technology Talent offers IT consulting, executive search, and direct hire recruitment and staffing services throughout the metro New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area. Established in 2007, its proprietary recruitment process and dedication to precision, ethics, and personalized service have made them a trusted partner among Fortune-ranked companies, mid-market, start-ups, and growth-phase firms in the Tri-State area. For additional information, visit www.bmarkits.com