You’ve secured a job interview? Congratulations! Interviews can be daunting for most, but the fear of trying to come across well during an online interview could be even worse. Using and relying on technology brings another element to the mix that until recently, would never have been expected from a candidate – and is a completely new experience for some.
Preparing for a virtual interview is entirely different to face-to-face. Rather than worrying about where to park and researching the best route to avoid traffic, there’s things like internet speed and not being able to take yourself off mute. Virtual meetings are becoming the new ‘normal’, so it’s great to get used to joining them from home. Being prepared as much as you can, should help rule out any technical mishaps and most importantly - ease your nerves.
It may sound obvious but it’s vital to ensure you have a laptop, computer or tablet with a webcam (with a working mic) and internet.
Check your interview email confirmation or ask the organiser for the link to the interview prior to the day – the chosen platform should be outlined e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meets. Ensure you have access to the program that works for your device, either for desktop or by downloading the app so you’re ready for a test run.
Prep your background before the day of the interview to avoid any last-minute room restructuring. You want to look professional and present yourself in the best light (literally), so aim to sit in front of a clear background with good natural light if possible. Find a work surface or table you can sit at so you’re not resting the device on your lap, that way you can also have a notepad next to you if you need to scribble down any questions or refer to any resources.
While not always possible, try to remove any distractions that are likely to throw you off your best performance. Make sure any TV’s, radios, or phones are turned off or on silent and if you have children or pets around you – see if you can get a helping hand in to keep them entertained for a short while.
Whether you’re tech savvy or tech phobic, setting up a test run is always advisable. Arrange a test meeting on the same software that you’ll be using for the interview - you could ask a friend to send your practise interview link to you, so you can log-in and iron out any potential issues you might not have factored in.
Make sure that your internet is running ok, and you can connect to the program. Once you’re in the meeting, test out your sound, lighting and adjust your camera angle to a position that works best. If you’ve been asked to present a task, save your file somewhere that’s accessible (like a desktop) and make sure you’re familiar with the icons you need to select to share your screen and move through your slides or files. Test this functionality during your run through so you can present with confidence on the day.
Brush up on your CV so you know exactly what’s on there and your recent accomplishments. It’s a good idea to look over the job description and match your skillset against each requirement; with each of the points, think of an example of when you’ve completed a similar task either in your current role or in the past.
Don’t assume all employers will use common interview questions. Spend time researching an array of questions you could be asked, from skills-based, experience or credential verification, behavioural questions, or even curve ball brain teasers. You won’t be able to predict exactly what you’ll be asked, but preparation of multiple scenarios will give you a good grounding and get your head in the game.
It’s typical for the interviewer to ask whether you have any questions for them. This is your chance to put them in the hot seat. Think about what you genuinely need to know about the company, their culture or any training or progression within the role. Write up to 5 questions so at the end of the interview you’re prepared. You can look online for ideas if you’re unsure – there are plenty out there.
Although you’re sat at home, it’s still an interview, so wear what you would usually wear to an interview (even if it’s business on top and joggers on the bottom!)
An online interview is trickier with eye contact but try to make sure you’re looking at the screen or webcam when answering questions. For less distraction, you could hide your own camera, as sometimes it can be off-putting to see yourself, especially under pressure. Ultimately, the aim is to create an optimum environment where you feel comfortable and confident.
It’s easy to forget but being invited to an interview is also a chance to see if you want the job. It’s an opportunity for you to delve deeper into the job specifics, get to know the people you could potentially be working with and get an idea of the company culture.
The most important thing to remember is that the interviewer is not trying to catch you out, they’re simply trying to access the best fit for the role. The interviewer wants you to do well, so they will guide the call to get to know you as a person and see what skills you bring to the table. So, best of luck.
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