Interviewing for a job is fun! Virtual interviews are even MORE fun! Okay, so now that we’ve all had our daily dose of sarcasm, let’s talk about this from a more realistic perspective. Interviews can be stressful, anxiety-producing exercises, but interviews are a vital and necessary part of the job search and hiring process. The virtual interview existed before COVID, but its usage has absolutely exploded over the last two years. According to a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, nearly half of hiring leaders say they will use a combination of in-person and virtual interviews moving forward. That same study also showed that 25% of companies will move solely to virtual interviewing.
It’s pretty clear that virtual interviews are not going away and will remain an option for companies to screen candidates and acquire talent. If you’re someone who reads this and has a knot forming in your stomach, don’t worry. As a professional in the recruiting and talent acquisition space, I’ve noticed a few things in the hundreds of virtual interviews I have conducted, and I’d like to share them with you. Hopefully, some of these tips will better prepare you for your next virtual meeting.
Dress to impress
First things first, this is still an interview. Besides your resume, the first thing the interviewer will likely notice is your appearance. Approach a virtual interview the same way you would an in-person meeting. This accomplishes two things: It communicates to the interviewer that you know how to maintain professionalism in a virtual environment, and it will boost your confidence. Trying on your outfit and sitting in front of your camera is helpful too. Some shirts or jackets may bunch up or look different when seated. It’s also a good idea to get completely dressed – tops and bottoms. The odds of you needing to stand up during a virtual interview are slim, but if that were to happen for any reason, you don’t want to show off your sweatpants or gym shorts!
Know your platform
You should be notified in advance of the virtual meeting platform that will be used to conduct your interview. If you haven’t already done so, make sure that you’ve downloaded the necessary app to your phone/tablet/computer ahead of time. Few things elicit anxiety like attempting to download an app (and then create the necessary username/password login information) a few minutes before a meeting is slated to begin! In the last year, I’ve used Zoom, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, and Skype to conduct a series of meetings and interviews. There are plenty of other options being used. Along with having the ability to access the virtual meeting platform, you should also ensure that you have a general working knowledge of the platform. Most virtual meeting platforms function in similar ways with similar features, but it’s not a bad idea to check it out beforehand. Maybe you could even arrange a short meeting with a friend? Struggling to find the mute/unmute button at the beginning of an interview is not an enjoyable experience!
Test your technology
This is an extension of the previous tip. One of the biggest producers of stress when it comes to virtual interviews is the fear of technical difficulties. While you cannot control if there’s a massive citywide power outage, you can control other things. Test your internet connection. You don’t want your wonderful responses to be misunderstood because of choppy internet. If you don’t have internet with the bandwidth to run multiple things at once, it’s not a bad idea to disconnect devices in your home that are also tapping into the connection. Make sure that your camera and microphone are working. Frame your camera in a way that shows your face and shoulders. There should be some space showing above the top of your head.
I’m a dog lover, but an interview is not the time for you to show me your furry friend. The same goes for cats. You do not want your cat walking across your desk during the meeting. As much as you love your animal companion, keep pets out of the room you are in during the interview.
If you’re using your tablet/computer to conduct your interview, turn off notifications and mute your cell phone. Consider leaving your phone in another room. If you are using your cell phone for the interview, get familiar with “do not disturb” mode and use it when possible. This will allow you to be present in the interview without getting any distracting pop-ups or alerts. It will also allow your interviewer to stay focused on you instead of the buzzes and chimes or the way your screen goes blank until you decline the call (or it stops ringing).
The final distraction to consider is the other people in your residence. Make sure the people you live with know how important this interview is and discourage people from walking behind you or making noises nearby.
BONUS TIP: Lighting
Sit where you are facing a window. This should provide plenty of natural lighting for you. You may also need to bring a lamp into the room to provide additional lighting. Please try to avoid sitting with your back to a window. I’m sure photographers have a real term for that eerie silhouette effect that makes you harder to see when the window is behind you. The last thing you want is the interviewer to focus more on trying to see you than on listening to you.
I truly love interviewing people! I take pride in making candidates feel as comfortable as possible so their skill and talent shines through. It’s a joy to be able to help others learn from what struggles I’ve seen candidates face. With virtual interviews becoming increasingly commonplace, it’s likely there is one coming up in your job search. If you are looking for even more ways to ace your interview and your search process, consider reaching out to us at Humanidei and O’Rourke. We offer job search services that help you present the best version of yourself, whether that’s during your next interview or as you express your interest in the next growth opportunity. We would love to be part of helping you find the perfect fit.