How to Ace That Virtual Interview

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8 May 2021


First of all, I just want to give you kudos for landing yourself an interview! That's the first and hardest step out the way and the next is to prep yourself for your interview. With social distancing rules still in effect and most offices closed, the most likely scenario is that your interview is going to be virtual. But if you've done an interview like this before, don't worry. This list will hopefully offer some much-needed guidance to ace that virtual interview. Maybe this is for a dream position or a stop-gap job or maybe something that is completely new to you, and I hope with my advice that you'll succeed. So keep on reading for eleven tips that will put you at the top of your virtual interview game.

Get Familiar with the Technology

So you've got an interview, first things first is to make yourself familiar with the technology whether that would be Zoom or Google Meet or Teams. These are the most likely contenders unless you're lucky enough to snag a telephone interview. They can be a little tricky to master if you haven't used them before. Believe me, my lecturers have been on Zoom for over a year and the mute button is always still left on. My advice, just don't wait until the last minute before. Download the apps, check out all the features and the quirks. Even if you do know the tech, it's best to make sure you do. Make sure you know the meeting link and the access code if there is one. I typically pin mine or star the email so it's easy to find.

Make a Cheat-Sheet

One of the biggest pros of a virtual interview is that you can get by with a little help from a cheat sheet. Excuse The Beatles reference, but crafting a document or page spread in your journal with notes and pointers that you'd like to discuss is interview gold. As an old-fashioned soul, I prefer the paper and pen method and this way you can colour code, scribble anything important and note anything down during the interview that you explore later on. So I recommend looking up the job spec again and jotting down why you're a good fit and what experiences you have that will benefit them. Though I'm a big fan of this method, the flicking through pages when you're in the interview isn't the best sound. If you do then I also recommend putting the sheets somewhere in your eye line so it's not too obvious! One of the main benefits of writing out everything on a Word doc is that you can stare away without looking disinterested. Overall, this is a great way to impress especially if you get those interview jitters.

Maintain Eye Contact

Interviews are kind of like a first date, there are the nerves and the awkward eye contact, but rest assured you are not going to be the creepy or disinterested date. During an interview, maintaining a healthy amount of eye contact with your interviewer is a sign that you're invested and confident. Just because it's a video interview it shouldn't be any different. All though maybe look into the camera rather than at the interviewers face might be a good tip, to make sure you are looking at them.

Set Up a Proffessional Background

Unlike a typical interview, this one is going to showcase you and your home so choose somewhere that has few distractions and is tidy enough. Staking out a desk or dinner table set-up is most ideal, so you're not casually chilling on the living room sofa. It's good to be comfortable, but that's a little too comfy. I tend to take interviews at my desk, with my stack of books in the background. As long as there isn't stuff everywhere, and the interviewer isn't going to be beguiled by a five feet poster of Taylor Swift you'll be good. I do however recommend a blank wall, a bookshelf or somewhere that shows a little something about you.

Turn Off Your Phone

There is nothing more distracting or off-putting than having your phone go off when you're in an interview, so switch it off! Even on silent, those buzzing notifications and the prospect of that person who never calls but does is not something you want to risk. Along with turning off your phone, make sure to also turn off any notifications on your computer. I know Outlook has that bell, which despite being a professional is still a distraction. So, for anything with a virtual pulse kill the switch.

Wear Something Proffessional

I know, I know there's only half of you onscreen but muster up that Clinton pantsuit, and dress head to toe as you would during an in-person interview. Whatever job, whether that would be for a waitress or journalist or engineer the motto 'dress to impress' still reigns true for all. This means wearing your snazziest professional attire. Things trousers, blazers, blouses, shirts, formal dresses and below the knee skirts are good options depending on who you are. As I said, the interviewer can't see your legs, but it's still a sound idea to wear some nice pants or a skirt to feel fully flashed professional and not just half of one. Might I add too that it's nice to appear smart, but don't let that cost you your sense of individuality comfort. At the end of the day your interviewer wants you to succeed, so wearing something that will make you feel confident is the best thing you can do; as long as you do maintain that First Lady or presidential look. I typically colour coordinate my attire. From the clothes to the hair tie to the makeup, that's something that makes me feel like I'm at my 100% And if you're lacking business attire inspiration make a board on Pinterest. There are thousands of pins that match the kind of styles that work well for you.

Ask Your Interviewer Questions

Nothing else more says you're interested than asking questions throughout your interview, or at the end. Depending on your memory or the intensity of the interview, I highly recommend writing them down somewhere accessible just so they're ready for use. Even in face-to-face interviews, I'd always bring out a cute little notebook with some scribbles on it. As you go through the interview some questions may arise that you hadn't considered, so having a pen and the notebook handy would be useful for that too. Although I wouldn't count on them coming during the interview. Make sure they are primed. Maybe do some background on the company and ask further questions on that, or about the positions responsibilities or what the interviewer likes most about the company - that's always a go-to one of mine. That way you can truly tell if this is somewhere right for you.

Use Body Language To Your Advantage

Even though you're not in person, body language is still important. One benefit of using video chat rather than a phone call is that you get to see each other's body language which can showcase your enthusiasm further. During the interview, you want to maintain good posture. Hence my earlier statement about not sitting on your sofa, slouching is not the best impression; you aren't watching a film with the family or friends. Feet should be flat on the floor, but do whatever you're comfortable with. I have a habit of crossing my legs, despite knowing steady feet can help with nerves and having that stability. When it comes to the hands, either show the interviewer you're keen by taking notes or leave them be or use them while you speak if that's something natural you do. As your interviewer speaks, you can use nonverbal cues such as drifting your body forward, nodding and smiling to show that you are listening. Even mirroring them is a good option too as you put them at ease which is never harmful.

Communicate With Your Household

Whether university students, family, friends, partners or anyone else, let the people you live with know in advance what time and where you are doing your interview. As another reminder, let them know around 30 minutes beforehand as chances are, they've forgotten. There again is nothing more offputting than having a sibling enter the room wailing away or your friend asking to borrow some cash. Tell them all. I've had the unfortunate meowing of my cat which is something entirely unavoidable. But if you can try and herd up any pets and enclose them in a kitchen or space with food so they aren't too mad at you. Before the interview starts, make sure that everyone gives you space and a low volume, even the pets until your interview is over. If it's not obvious already, a different room in the house or living space if you can is best so that you remain focused.

Check the WiFi

If your interview is going to be on Zoom, Teams or Google Meet, then prior you need to make sure you have a strong internet connection. I recommend testing out your connection where you plan to do your interview as who knows maybe your WiFi plans on ruining your chances of getting a job. Damn you WiFi. Maybe Zoom up someone you haven't talked to in a while and see whether you've chosen that WiFi sweet spot. If the WiFi is a little touch and go, or if you already know that you have poor internet connection in general or because of where you live - I mean lockdown hasn't done the routers any favours - no worries, just drop the interviewer an email and state that. Then when it comes to the day and your internet is failing you then they're already expecting that and it doesn't bear any negative effect on how they perceive you. Just telling them proves that you care.

Charge Your Device

This may be one of the most obvious ones on the list, but even I, the overly organised freak, has had this happen to me and only a few weeks ago. Although I got the position, and it offered a little interview humour I was left with a pang of overwhelming guilt. When you're doing the interview you get so lost in your own words and the interviewers questions that your device's battery levels are the last thing on your mind. Which is a peculiar phrase to say in this age. If your chosen interview space doesn't have a power outlet, then just ensure that your laptop has enough charge to last the entire interview. That's why being at a desk is the prime position as you have those perpetual electric currents. This way, when you're answering all those time-consuming questions your flow won't die like your battery.

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