Before the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual interviews were mostly just for remote job openings. Soon after the start of various lockdowns, many office employees switched to remote work, which coincided with more virtual interviews. Even as COVID-19 outbreaks ebb and flow, more employers have realized virtual interviews are more convenient, more affordable, and easier to schedule. Even if an employer wants to meet you in person, it’s very likely they will ask for a virtual interview first. Lucky for you, the folks at WBCP are pros at this interview format and have the tips to help you ace your next virtual interview.
What Is a Virtual Interview?
A virtual interview is often an initial interview employers conduct over a video call to screen candidates. However, more employers are using virtual interviews for the entire recruiting process (especially employers who offer remote work schedules). Since the start of the pandemic, the video call platform, Zoom, has skyrocketed in popularity for business calls and interviews. Other common video call platforms include Microsoft Teams, Skype, WhatsApp, and Google Workspace.
How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview
Follow these steps to get ready for your next virtual interview:
Set up Your Meeting Space
When meeting a prospective employer online, you want to be aware of your environment. Make sure whatever the camera can see is clean and organized. Choose a simple background for your call, like a blank wall or a tidy bookshelf. Many video platforms also give you the option to choose a virtual background, which is nice if you struggle to find a good background in your space. When choosing a virtual background, keep it simple. Most platforms have backgrounds that look like offices or organized living spaces. While it may be tempting, save the silly backgrounds for video calls with your friends.
Test Your Connection and Screen Sharing Capabilities
A spotty connection can be distracting and make you feel stressed during your interview. To avoid any issues, check your internet connection well before the call. Ask a friend or family member to do a test call to see if they can see and hear you clearly. If your internet connection at home is weak, you might look into renting a private meeting space at your local library.
Potential employers often like to ask candidates to give a presentation during an interview – and “screen sharing” is often a piece of this. Each video call platform has its own process for screen sharing so be sure to do your research and test it out before you get to your interview to avoid technical difficulties.
Charge Your Devices
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget! Always have your computer or laptop plugged in and your headphones charged. If you use an external mouse or keyboard, charge these too. You may need to use them during the interview, especially if you want to take some notes.
Close All Your Tabs
During an interview, an employer may ask you to pull up your resume or portfolio and share your screen. Save yourself the embarrassment and make sure to clear your browsing history and close your tabs before your interview. Your next employer doesn’t need to know you’ve been shopping for new countertops or playing Fantasy Football.
Talk to Your Household
Let your family or roommates know when your interview is so that they know to be quiet during this time. Consider putting a “do not disturb” sign on your door so that no one accidentally comes in to ask you a question. If you have children or pets, arrange for someone to look after them during your interview so that your full focus can be on the call.
Dress for Success
Treat a virtual interview just as seriously as an in-person one. Of course, this includes dressing the part. Wear formal business clothes that are clean, well-fitting, and wrinkle-free. Although employers can only see you from the waist up, we recommend dressing formally head-to-toe. Not only will this put you in a more professional, put-together mind space, but it will also save you from any awkward moments if you were to stand up.
How to Make a Good Impression During a Virtual Interview
Okay, the interview has started. Here’s what to do to make a good impression:
Look at the Camera
By looking into your camera when you speak, it will appear that you are making eye contact with your interviewer. This will make you seem like a more confident and prepared candidate. If you need to use notes during your interview, write them on a sticky note and put the sticky note next to your camera. This way, you won’t appear to be looking down when you need a refresher.
Ask Important Questions
Like any interview, this is your chance to learn more about the company and position. Throughout the interview, ask questions that show you’re interested in the role. For instance, here are several smart questions to ask:
- What kind of room for growth does this role offer?
- What is the company culture like?
- What is your favorite part of working here?
- What are some challenges that I may experience in this role?
- How does the company/organization support staff?
- What does success look like for this role in six months?
Show That You Are Listening
While your body language is limited online, there are a few things to do to show you’re engaged. Are you actively looking at your screen? Are you sitting up in your chair? Are you smiling at who’s speaking? Are you nodding along? Another way to be an active listener is to paraphrase what your speaker just said in your response. You can also ask follow-up questions to encourage them to elaborate.
What to Do After the Interview
After your virtual interview, be sure to send the hiring manager or recruiter a “thank-you” email within a day. In this email, you should thank them for their time and reiterate why you are the ideal candidate in a few brief sentences. Then, you can bring up any highlights from the interview and why you’re excited about the position.
Ready for the next step in your career? Check out the WBCP job board here.