10 tips for nailing a virtual interview

Posted 12/29/20 Matt Albano

2020 has changed the world, particularly how we interact, interface, and connect with those around us. The pandemic has challenged our personal lives and has forever changed the ways companies do business−including hiring. The disruption has dramatically impacted employment and has forced companies to reevaluate not only when and why to hire someone, but also how to hire someone.

As the hiring process becomes truly virtual and more employees begin to work remotely, we and other organizations have moved in the direction of video interviewing. On one hand, it’s nice to be in the comfort of your own home, but on the other hand, you are not able to build rapport in an in-person meeting.  

Let’s make the best of the situation! Now is the time to ensure you present yourself in a professional light and stand out among the other candidates during the virtual interview process.

Follow these 10 tips to ensure a solid virtual interview

In 2020, I have completed dozens of video interviews, and despite the awareness and commonality of the practice now, I am still staggered at how many people make basic mistakes during the interview. This can range from dogs barking, to the webcam not being framed correctly, to the half glass of wine partially showing on the desk.

Below are 10 key things to keep in mind when participating in a virtual interview. Some of these may seem obvious, but all of them are important−and could be deal breakers−in the quest to land your dream job.

  • Test your connection and log onto the video interview invite at least 30 minutes prior. Do not scramble at the last minute.
  • Test your webcam and display placements. An employer wants to see more than just your forehead or bottom of your chin. Check your screen picture from time to time to ensure they can see your entire face at a reasonable distance.
  • Dress attire. Dress your best to leave a lasting and professional impression. This is important when it comes down to comparing similarly skilled candidates.
  • Eliminate distractions. Close the door and windows in the room, turn the TV off, silence your cell phone, block pop-ups on your computer, and remove pets and kids from the room.
  • Find a room with a neutral and clean background. If not available, change your background picture.
  • Choose an office or kitchen table chair. Sit like you would in an in-person office interview and preferably not on a couch, overstuff armchair, etc., which may take away from your overall professional presentation.
  • Adjust the lighting. Make sure the room is well-lit so interviewer(s) can see you with no glare or darken out.
  • Prioritize the camera, not the screen. Use the best camera you have, even it means doing the interview on your cell phone. If you use a cell phone, place the phone in a stationary stand to eliminate any movement.
  • Keep your eyes looking forward and at the interviewer(s). You can focus on looking into the camera of your device.
  • Take notes. Even though you’re on video, a hiring manager will appreciate engagement through note-taking, as it shows interest; having notes is also important for follow-up conversations and communications.

Lights, camera, interview

Heading into the New Year, optimism abounds for new opportunities and “getting back to normal.” However, some aspects of life and work are irrevocably changed—and that includes how companies find, interview, and select the best candidates.

Virtual interviews may well be a permanent part of the hiring process going forward, so follow these tips to prepare now (or in the future) for that next great career move.

Learn more and connect with Matt Albano here.

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