COVID-19 forces many changes into the employment picture. What used to occur in-person is now being pushed into virtual or remote settings. Although the topics and agenda may remain the same, the modes leading to success are very different. Interviews, for one, require a different type of preparation.
These remote meetings are getting to be more and more common, and to stand out you want to be as prepared as possible. Here are some key tips and advice on how to have your best virtual interview with a potential employer.
1. Make sure that your technology and devices work!
2. Turn around and look behind you.
3. Do your homework and be prepared.
- 4. Be conscious of your body language.
- 5. Dress for the job you want (and yes, you need to wear real pants!).
6. At the end of the interview, be sure to ask any questions you may have, and ask them with confidence.
Technology is never 100% reliable. You want to show your reliability and dependability by ensuring that your tech actually works when it is needed. Test the virtual method that will be used ahead of time, with the help of another person: test your video feed, your microphone, your speakers, and your lighting sources. Plan for a backup in case something happens during your interview (like a plan to use another video platform or to make a phone call — and determine in advance who will call whom, what numbers to call, etc.). It would benefit you to download different virtual meeting platforms onto your computer or phone (like Zoom, Skype, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts). Consistent use of these will help you to become more comfortable on them and by the time you interview, you will be a pro.
This is what the person you are speaking with will see. The camera can be very unflattering! Is the area behind you clean and organized? Is there anything visible that might cause viewers to be distracted? Is there a sun-filled window that could cause glare, dark shadows or unflattering light? When you do your test run, ask your friend how she feels about the visible background, the quality of the sound, the view of your face, etc., and then make the necessary changes to literally help put you in the best light.
It’s tempting to think that because you’re sitting at a computer or because you will be out of view, you can search for answers during the interview. But trust me, they will be able to tell, whether it’s by the sound of the keyboard or the clicking of the mouse buttons or the constant movement of your eyes to scan the screen, you will look and sound distracted! Instead, read up on the company beforehand, make sure you jot down notes, and print out and summarize information to have at your immediate disposal.
It can be more noticeable now than during in-person interviews, so it’s important that you’re aware of what you’re doing with your hands, face, and eyes. Talking with your hands too much could be a distraction, so except for the occasional gesture try to rest them in your lap or folded on the table. Sit up straight and smile casually while maintaining eye contact with your interviewer. It might be tempting to check the clock behind the computer or look out the window when a car drives by, but try your hardest to focus directly on the interviewer. Be and act present!
There is a joke that during virtual interviews most people wear their pajama pants since they won’t be seen. What if part way through the interview you realize you’ve left a piece of information somewhere that you have to stand up to retrieve? It’s just best to have your bases, and your bottom, covered. Dressing in clean, well-fitting clothing will help you feel more confident and help the company recognize that you will represent them in a positive and professional manner. If you’re unsure of what “acceptable dress” is for their company, visit their website or social media. They will most likely have images of employees posted, and they will use the best dressed employees.
Whether held in-person or done remotely, interviews are a two-way conversation where you can learn about the opportunity and the organization can learn about you. Interviewers expect to be asked about growth opportunities, company culture, reporting hierarchy, performance measurements, and yes even pay, hours, and benefits, so ask away! Gain comfort about the career growth and development opportunities, the challenges of the role, the outcomes of the people who held this position before, etc. Be sure to sign off with a thank you and let them close out first so you don’t miss a last minute word from them.
Immediately draft an email note, while your interview is still fresh in your mind. Make it personal so they know they’re not receiving a generic message that you send to everyone. You can always schedule the email to send at a later time, but definitely send one within 24 hours of your interview. The thank-you note shows that you value their time and that you are eager to communicate with them. In that thank-you note, be sure to express gratitude for their consideration and include something you may have bonded over, such as a favorite hobby, life circumstance or sports team you hold in common.
With the world reeling from COVID-19, we are lucky to have technology at our disposal to help continue our path towards bettering our future. While many companies at this time have had layoffs and furloughs, there are still many organizations who are still hiring. Virtual interviews are the new normal, especially when hiring people out of state or simply to stay safe and maintain social distancing practices.
(written by: Crystal)