With the efficiency of technology today, many employers and recruiters are turning to virtual interview platforms as a way to save time and money. This turn is transforming traditional hiring and screening methods and adding a new challenge for job seekers.
A few years ago, many companies were restricted to Skype or Apple’s FaceTime video calling application and usually only took advantage of these tools to save money on travel from remote locations. But with employers trying to save money in every direction it is becoming a more common method of first-round interview screening even if you live in the same location. It is also not unusual for many companies to now rely on their own or a vendor-supplied online platform for one-way recorded interviews or live, two-way interviews.
Regardless of whether you are preparing for an in-person or a virtual interview, the goal remains the same. You need to make an excellent first impression that lands a second interview and hopefully the job! You need to find a way to sell yourself and your added value to the employer and answer the question: “Why should we hire you?” Nevertheless, virtual interviews can present unique challenges different from an in-person interview. All of a sudden you need to worry about your technology and the management of your background setting and noise reduction. Your own ability to effectively show enthusiasm and interest via an online platform needs some consideration, as well as your ability to sell your qualifications without the capacity to provide hard-copies of your resume or certifications. Below, you will find some strategies that will help prepare you for the virtual interview and ensure that you leave the employer with a lasting and valuable first impression.
– Get your technology in order: this means you need to ensure that your internet connection, microphone and camera are all in good working order. Do a trial run the night before with a friend or family member using the same platform as the interviewer will be using (if possible). Not only will this help calm your nerves, but it will also help you learn the technology better in case an issue arises during the interview. Demonstrate that you can problem-solve and be professional in the event of a glitch if something goes wrong in the interview. There is nothing wrong with saying that you are having technical difficulties, but show that you can stay calm in light of this problem.
– Prepare your environment: make sure that your background is professional and that you will not have background noise that will be disruptive. Try to find a blank wall behind you or strategically place books and relevant material nearby that is visible in your webcam. If you can’t find a quiet place that isn’t your bathroom, check and see if your public library has a private room available that you could use during your interview. Make sure your phones are turned off and that pets and children will not disturb you during the meeting. There is nothing more distracting than a dog barking or a child crying in the background.
– Dress for success: You may be able to get away with wearing your jogging pants during a virtual interview, but make sure that your shirt and anything visible to the interviewer is appropriate. I suggest to my clients that they still dress and prepare as if they were going to an in-person interview. This helps with your own confidence and is a subtle reminder that the interview is still formal and needs to be treated in a professional manner. This also means that you need to position yourself properly. You should not slouch or chew gum and try not to shake your legs too much because you will appear jittery and nervous in the camera. Another important tip here is to maintain eye contact with the interviewer. This becomes a little more challenging in a virtual interview because it is nature to look at the person speaking to you. However, it is paramount that you remember to look into your webcam when speaking and not actually at the person on your screen!
– Practice & Prepare: Just like you would for an in-person interview it is a must that you practice and prepare for a virtual interview. You need to do your company research and have questions and answers ready. You need to practice with your voice and make sure that you are clear and succinct when speaking. Make sure your facial expressions remain positive and that you don’t overuse the words “ummmm” and “uhhhh”. This is your opportunity to showcase your verbal communication skills, so practice in front of a mirror or with a friend.
And finally, just remember to be yourself! All the pre-planning and practice in the world won’t help you if you can’t showcase why you are the best candidate for the job. Be yourself and remember to showcase the value you bring to the table. Staying positive and confident will display in the virtual interview!
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