Job searching and interviewing can be stressful enough under normal circumstances: identifying the right jobs/companies, redoing your resume, submitting applications and once you do lock down an interview, having strong conversations with the hiring team. In our current reality, there are a few more challenges. Frontline opportunities certainly have increased competition. Many traditional businesses rely on in-person interviewing, and while their operating needs are increasing, they are simultaneously pivoting to conduct virtual interviews, hoping to connect across technology.
Making a strong impression in your interview – virtually or otherwise – is crucial. Following are several important tips to consider in preparing for your virtual interview:
• Be technology ready – Make sure your devices are fully charged and you have a working microphone. Confirm the platforms on which you will virtually meet your interviewer – Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, Hangouts, etc. – and download accordingly. Familiarize yourself with how they work, running a test call with yourself or a friend/family member. Leverage OneNote or other tools for real time notetaking.
• Create your physical and mental space — Make sure you have a quiet area with limited interruptions; perhaps away from a window with outside distractions Also, be sure to check your lighting and plan for a video friendly environment. Turn off all computer pop-up notifications and sounds that might distract you from your interview experience (email alerts, messaging platforms, calendar reminders, etc.).
• Be punctual – while you won’t be able to show your punctuality by arriving early to an office or business, logging onto your conference bridge in advance shows your good intention. Arriving 5 minutes early is sufficient, and be aware that some online platforms may not be available until official start time
• Mindset – Block your calendar before and after so you can actively gather your thoughts in advance of the call and have a buffer in your schedule if the call goes longer than planned. This will be helpful for scheduling snafu’s, and will support you in being present and focused for the conversation.
• Dress to impress – First impressions are important and will continue to be, especially on video. Ask your recruiter for any advice, but if limited information is provided, it’s best to be overdressed than underdressed. We recommend full attire, on the off chance you wind up standing up or moving into full sight on camera.
• Eye contact and engagement – Depending on where the camera is on your device — it can be tough to find the right angle to feel engaged and connected 1:1. An easy way to ensure eye contact is to move the meeting window right below your computer camera so that you are “naturally” looking directly at your interviewer.
• Manage your time – Maintain a balance between story-telling and active listening. Prepare questions given that most of your interactions will be virtual and this could be a big decision without the in-office experience.
While respective stressors might vary, hiring teams welcome you to ask upfront and direct questions relevant to the changing work environment, while maintaining a professional approach (I.e. number of hours for the position (contract or full time), timeline for hiring, how the organization is supporting their employees during current events, etc.). Though hiring teams may not have all the answers right now, your due diligence will provide insight into the company’s culture and approach to handling a tough environment.
While video interviewing may not be new for some, it is always important to take some of our virtual work-from-home best practices to share with others who might be new to the process. We are all adapting to this new world, and your preparation and professionalism will help drive a connection with hiring teams, allowing for a more fluid conversation– just as if you were in the room.