Tips for Successful Virtual Interviews

by Dani Gavson

With many of us sheltering in place and working from home it may surprise you to know that many of our clients are very much “open for business” and still hiring.  While social & physical distancing measures may have slowed down the interview process, astute leaders understand that the talent crisis might only get more challenging instead of better.

To adapt to the changing circumstances and  in order to keep momentum of searches moving along, the interview process  is evolving too.  Our clients are replacing the on-site visit with a series of virtual interviews.

You may feel that virtual interviews make it difficult to establish a real rapport or make you feel awkward.  If you are lucky enough to have an interview (or two) lined up, you still need to be as prepared to show up and show off your best version of yourself, just as you would for an in-person interview.

Here are some tips we’ve shared with our candidates to help them prepare for success and to set them up for a successful interview.

Setup your location:

  • Test your internet connection ahead of time to make sure that the spot you choose has a strong and stable connection.
  • Once you’ve found your best spot, then set your computer up in front of a tidy, neutral background. Pay attention to anything that may be visible within the frame of your webcam.
  • Check the lighting – facing a window would be ideal but if that’s not possible, try to avoid being lit from behind as it will frame you as a silhouette.
  • Ambient environment: Keep the door closed and make sure your kids and / or pets are occupied and keeping quiet for the duration of the interview

Technical Stuff:

  • Test your mic and webcam to make sure everything is working and working well. Maybe do a test run with a friend or family member ahead of time.
  • Close all windows, applications and unused tabs to ensure the best speed of your computer.
  • Turn off all email, social media and messaging pop-up notifications
  • Silence your phone or better yet, turn it off during the interview as you don’t want to be distracted by incoming notifications.

Dress for Success and Look your Best:

  • Position your webcam at eye-level so there’s not too much space showing above your head. If you’re working on a laptop, raise it by placing it on a stack of books to make sure that your angles look good.
  • Dress as you would dress for the on-site interview at the client’s office. Professional attire and grooming (style your hair and do your makeup if you usually wear it) are as important as if you were on-site.

Prepare ahead:

  • As you would for an on-site meeting, prepare ahead by reviewing the company’s website, the position description and the bios of the people you’ll be meeting with.
  • This is also a great time to consider any questions you might want to ask and you can have a “cheat sheet” in place by bringing a notebook and/ or attaching post-it notes on your desk that will serve as prompts to help you as you navigate the conversation.
  • Have a printout of your resume and the job description with you so that you have it at hand in case the interviewer refers to specifics from your resume. This will serve to keep you from appearing distracted if you had to click between windows (which should be closed).
  • Be ready to take notes by having a pen and paper handy (and letting your interviewer know that you are taking notes – as you would in a face-to-face interview.)
  • Have a glass of water handy to sip on during the conversation.
  • Be ready at least 10 – 15 minutes in advance of your meeting. This will give you time to breathe deeply, calm any nerves and not feel rushed.

While you’re at it:

  • Be sure to make eye contact by focusing on your interviewer, exactly as you would in person. Don’t let your eyes roam around – you don’t want to appear to be distracted.
  • Communicate your enthusiasm and engagement throughout the interview – make sure you smile and nod throughout the interview. By now, you should be feeling a bit more comfortable and should be engaging with your interviewer just as you would be in person.

Don’t sweat the small stuff:

  • It’s all about flexibility and we’re all human and we’re mostly all navigating previously uncharted waters right now. If your dog barks, it’s fine. If the internet connection lags – don’t worry about it either. It is what it is.  Just do your best to keep your poise and move forward with grace under pressure.
  • Maybe it’s bigger stuff –
    • your connection is unexpectedly cut off. We recommend keeping the phone number of the conference line at hand so you can re-establish some form of communication.
    • Your interview is disrupted by one of the kids – just excuse yourself politely, mute the line, turn off the webcam and resolve the issue as quickly as you can and then resume the call (remember to unmute and turn on the webcam again)

The Big Stuff is Important too:

  • Be sure that you end the call properly. Double check that you have hung up AND ended the webcam sharing after the call. Then check again.
  • Call your recruiter and tell him/her how it went.  We’re excited to share your enthusiasm and to collect your feedback.