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Mastering the Virtual Interview
The virtual interview has been a fairly common practice in the business world for many years but companies always favor in-person interviews, especially in the final rounds. With the global COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual interview has become the “new normal”, at least for the foreseeable future. Having just successfully concluded our first ever Cameron-Brooks Virtual Career Conference in our 50-year history, here are some useful tips for mastering the virtual interview.
- Set Your Scene. Choose a quiet, well-lit room where you can talk freely and be the main focal point on the screen. Create a professional space by ensuring your environment is neat, clean, and free of both physical and digital distractions. It is OK to have pictures on the wall, desk, etc. but avoid excess clutter. Close all other applications, social media, and programs on your computer while conducting the interview.
- Test Your Technology. Companies will use a variety of VTC applications including Zoom, Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Teams, etc. and all require a good internet connection to ensure a smooth, glitch-free conversation. Check your internet connectivity at speedtest.net. For example, Zoom requires a minimum of 600kbps up/down and recommends 1.5 Mbps up/down. For those applications (like Zoom) that allow you to dial in from a separate phone line, make this your primary method. In the event you lose the internet connection, the interviewer will still be able to hear you and the interview can continue. Lastly, confirm your camera and computer microphone are working.
- Dress the Part. Treat your interview just like you would an in-person interview. Wear business attire and dress professionally from head to toe. Professional attire shows you are serious about the position and studies also show that people feel most confident, trustworthy and competent when wearing formal business attire.
- Monitor Your Body Language. You can’t firmly shake a hiring manager’s hand or exude enthusiasm as easily over a computer screen. However, you can monitor your body language. Sit up straight, smile and look at the camera and NOT the screen. It is very tempting to watch yourself or the interviewer during a virtual interview but when you do this you are not making eye contact with the interviewer. Research shows that employers are more likely to remember what you said if you maintain good eye contact.
- Use Notes. With a virtual interview it is perfectly acceptable to have a copy of your resume handy, a list of questions you want to ask during the interview, etc. A benefit of a virtual interview is that you can have a “cheat sheet” so that you don’t have to memorize everything you would like to mention or ask.
- But Don’t Rely Too Much on Your Notes. Make sure your notes are easy to scan and place them in a position where looking at them does not detract from your eye contact with the interviewer. While having notes can be a plus, relying on them too much can create awkward pauses in the interview. Use your notes to accent your interview and not as a crutch for being ill-prepared.
- Practice in this Virtual Environment. It is important to get comfortable and confident interviewing in the space where you will be interviewing! Think of it like any sport you might have played in high school or college. Everyone always favors playing at home because you know the field or court. The same goes for your interview environment. Utilize a study group, family member or friend to practice virtually in the environment you will be using for your actual interviews.
We hope you find these tips helpful in mastering the virtual interview. For more transition tools, check out our career tips and podcast. You can also follow along on LinkedIn and Facebook to stay up to date with our latest blog posts and news.