Everything in our world seems to have been turned upside down in 2020. And that includes the job interview process.
With businesses, schools, churches, and most other organizations turning to virtual platforms like Zoom, Webex and others, you’re likely overly familiar with the format. But if you haven’t engaged in any virtual job interviews, these tips can help you to perform at your best – almost as if you were sitting across the desk from your interviewer.
So, let’s get started!
1. Take Your Interview Seriously – Sitting in front of a computer screen doesn’t make this any less than a serious job interview. Remember that you’re speaking with professionals who can help you take the next big step in your career. Be fully engaged.
2. Practice Answering Common Questions – Prepare in advance by researching common questions and rehearsing your answers. They should be natural, not scripted. Be ready to tell your story about why you’re a perfect fit for the role and how you’ll help them solve their problems.
3. Write Down Questions for the Interviewer – An interview is a 2-way conversation. They aren’t just interviewing you. You’re interviewing them as well. Write down a minimum of 5 strong questions for your interviewer. The quality of your questions will set you apart from other candidates.
4. Practice with Zoom and Record Your Practice Sessions – Practice is the best way to improve how you communicate yourself to your interviewer. Seeing YOU through their eyes will inspire tips of small (or big) details to fix prior to your interview.
5. Double (and Triple)-Check the Date, Time and Time Zone – Interviews across time zones can throw you off unless you’ve made the proper adjustments in your calendar. Most calendar and meeting software takes care of this for you. But it’s always the best habit to ensure you have the correct time and date for your interview.
6. Update Your LinkedIn Profile – First, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you’re late. It’s one of the first platforms companies will check when considering you for a role. It’s more than an online resume. You can engage with others, add your own content and research employers. Update your profile, so if they have it pulled up during your interview, they’ll have your latest information in front of them.
7. Find a Quiet Room – Barking dogs, noisy traffic and screaming children can distract you and your interviewer. With many working from home now, a colorful background has become the norm. But reduce any interference by reserving a time and place that helps ensure a quiet interview.
8. Ensure You Have a Great Internet Connection – Test your connection before your interview to make sure it can handle the virtual conversation. If your connection is slow, consider holding the interview in another location with few, or no distractions.
9. Use a Professional Background – Forget the cluttered attic or the bathroom. Position yourself in a clean environment to remove visual distractions. If you have a room with a bare wall, use it.
10. Optimize Your Lighting and Camera Angle – Choose a room that’s well lit. Natural sunlight always works best. If needed, boost your laptop with a few books to ensure your at eye-level with your camera. A straight-on angle works much better than looking upward or downward at your interviewer.
11. Turn Off Your Phone – Avoid an embarrassing interruption by leaving your phone completely off during the interview. A buzzing phone can throw you off and cause you to lose your train of thought while answering an important question.
12. Keep Your Laptop Connected to the Power Outlet – An important job interview is a terrible time for your laptop’s battery to die. Eliminate that risk by keeping it plugged in.
13. Use a Professional Profile Name – Before your interview, check your profile name that will display for your interviewer. It’s usually best to simply use your first and last name. Scrap the nicknames – unless you use them in professional settings.
14. Close Any Other Open Programs – Give your interview your full attention by shutting down other programs that could slow your connection or cause hiccups in your communication. We’ve all experienced those annoying breaks when we can’t hear each other and have to repeat ourselves.
15. Dress Professionally … Head to Toe – We’ve seen the funny videos showing people in virtual meetings half-dressed…professional up top and extremely “comfortable” down below. Don’t do that. It’s a mindset thing. Dress as if you’re interviewing in person. It will help you focus and to think professionally.
16. Look at the Camera – Looking directly into the camera gives the appearance to the interviewer that you’re looking them in the eye. Move the window as close to the camera as you can. That way, if you look away from the camera and at your interviewer, it will be less noticeable.
17. The 2-Minute Warning – Don’t sign on too early – just in case there is an interview before yours or if the interviewers are discussing your qualifications. Two minutes is a great standard.
18. Calm Down and Enunciate – Be sure to speak slowly and clearly throughout your interview. Rushing or mumbling are pitfalls that can negatively impact how you communicate yourself.
19. Highlight IT Certifications in Progress – Point out any IT certification exams you’re currently preparing for that are directly relevant to the role. It reinforces your drive to do the job and to grow your skill set.
20. Pay Attention to Your Body Language – It’s easy to get too comfortable when you’re in your own home. Make sure you’re keeping eye contact. Maintain good posture. Your body language will often speak louder than your words when communicating your interest in the job.
21. Record Your Actual Interview – You will seldom get feedback from your interviewers about your performance during your conversation. If you record it, you evaluate your body language, responses to questions, your interviewer’s body language, and other details to help you improve in future interviews.
22. Show your Soft Skills – While there may be many interviewing for this role, there is only one thing that truly sets you apart from everyone…you are uniquely YOU. Your personality, your experiences, and your empathy are yours alone. Be enthusiastic, friendly and natural in your interview. Engage and show them that you’re not only enthusiastic about the job, but that you’ll perform it with excellence.
Virtual interviews will likely be the format of choice for the near future. Practicing these tips can help you to master your performance and earn your new job.
Go get it and good luck!