Your chance to shine! A guide to virtual interviews
With unemployment on the rise, the UK job market is more competitive than ever, and this means every invite to interview is a great opportunity that needs to be maximised! However, with the pandemic forcing many to work from home, the chances are most upcoming interviews will be done virtually. Many people will have never done a virtual interview before, so here are some tips and tricks to help you succeed and showcase your abilities on the small screen.
You still need to Prepare. Do not neglect to do research about the organisation. Prepare for the questions they may ask you from your CV, or based on the job description and competencies required for the role. Treat it the same as you would for a face-to-face interview.
You could also prepare ‘prompt notes’ that can be on your notepad near the computer for if you need some inspiration. However, don’t look like you’re reading them! It is important to come across as having a normal, natural conversation.
As we have all got more used to being on camera for informal calls, it is easy to translate this into more relaxed behaviour on professional calls, but you need to remember that this is an interview situation where you will be judged! What can be “endearing” or “funny” in a work meeting will not come across as professional in an interview.
So think about things like background noise – will the interviewer be able to hear the rain on your windows? Where do you put the dog so that they can’t hear them barking? How do you ensure you are not interrupted by the children? We have even heard stories of people eating during a virtual interview or checking their phones! The basic rule should be, behave as if you were sitting in front of the hiring manager – forget that there is a computer between you.
“Zoom fatigue” is not only real, but extremely transparent on-screen. That’s true for both the candidate and the interviewer. Remember that your interview is probably one of many that the recruiter or hiring manager is conducting that day, and they could very well be listless. Pep them up by bringing energy, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude. Be upbeat and animated when telling your stories. If you can leave the interviewer feeling comfortable, at ease with you, and with more positive feelings than negative, you’ll be more memorable and it could set you apart from other candidates.
Check your Tech
You must practice for the technical aspects of Zoom, Skype or whatever system you will be using. Ensure you can adjust your settings, guaranteeing you can be heard, and check you can use the ‘share documents’ facility in case there is the chance to showcase some previous work.
Lighting is also very important. You need to situate yourself in front of a light source or window so that it is enhancing your face, rather than hiding it in the dark. The interviewer needs to be able to see your facial expressions – this is a key part of your on-camera delivery.
Consider what’s appearing in your background. As a minimum, assess your surroundings to be sure there isn’t anything questionable showing. Minimal is good, or you may consider having something there that resonates with the interviewer – it may create a talking point (similar to how hobbies do). If you’re really struggling, use one of the ‘virtual backgrounds’ provided on the software you’re using.
In a virtual interview, you should dress the same as you would in a face-to-face interview. Doing so not only makes you appear professional and excited about the opportunity, but it will also make you feel more prepared and confident. If in doubt, business casual is a good standard to follow.
As well as questions around the role and your skills, experience and competence to do it well, lots of employers will want to know what you were doing during lockdown, as it gives some insight into how you behaved. It will show a lot about resilience in dealing with a difficult situation and your self-motivation.
Here are some questions it might be worth considering beforehand:
- What did you learn about yourself during the Covid Pandemic that you didn’t know before?
- What did you choose to do during the lockdown and why?
- What self-development did you undertake during lockdown?
- Do you recognise how are you motivated?
Virtual interviews may seem a new and slightly intimidating experience, but with proper preparation and the correct mindset, we’re sure you can shine and secure that new role in 2021!