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How to prepare for a virtual job interview

With the adoption of social distancing in many countries more companies have shifted to virtual interviews as a safe, efficient alternative to screening candidates and filling roles but interviews are stressful in even the best of times, let alone within a video conferencing environment that you may not used to.

HireVue, the largest provider of virtual job interview technology with clients that include Delta Air Lines, Vodafone, Unilever, and PwC, recently found (Mar 2020 data) that 89% of employers are now adopting virtual interviews for obvious reasons. Virtual interviews are often conducted in much the same way as face-to-face interviews. That said, virtual communication requires special considerations and adjustments due to the limited ability to read body language and facial expressions so how do you ace a virtual job interview? Dovetail Recruitment are here to help!!

1. Prepare as though you were going to a face to face interview.

Apart from planning your travel to the interview all other preparation should remain the same; research the company, research the interviewer, think of questions you may want to ask such as: What does a typical day in the life of this role look like? 

– What are the company’s goals this quarter? 

– How would you describe the ideal candidate for this position? 

– Where does this role sit in the organisation, and what other groups will I be working with? 

– Can you walk me through the next steps of the hiring process?

Dress to impress and yes, that does mean stepping out of your pyjamas bottoms!!

The urge to be less formal because you are in your own home is understandable, but it might send the wrong message about how interested you are in the role. Dressing for the job you want will also help you get into the right frame of mind for the interview. One thing to consider when choosing your outfit is how it will look on camera. On the whole the main part of you in shot is your shoulders and head so a lower cut shirt that may look great in a face to face interview may make you appear semi naked in a virtual interview!!

2. Test your Tech

IT and Technology skills are one of the top competencies any employers will be looking for regardless of the role so ensure you give the right impression by testing the platform and internet connection with a friend prior to the interview so you know how it all works. Ensure you sit down ready for the interview 10mins before the allotted time, so you have time to login without stress and get yourself into an interview mindset. Choose a quiet area in front of the most neutral background you can find and ensure it is well lit.

3. Minimise distractions

But take them in your stride if they do happen. It’s not about erasing the fact that you’re in your home. It’s about being as professional as you can given the circumstance

4. Build Rapport

During the interview maintain good posture – think about what chair you sit on you want to appear engaged throughout and that’s difficult to achieve if you are slumped backwards.

Use your face to show you’re engaged too. On most video platforms only one microphone can be used at a time so if you speak simultaneously it can mute one or other of you. In a normal conversation we would naturally use small murmurs of agreement when someone is talking. Perhaps try and replace those with nods of agreement or smiles to ensure the conversation is not distorted.

Eye contact is tricky on a video call as the natural tendency is to look at the person who’s talking whereas to maintain good eye contact you should look directly into the camera the whole time. The solution is to try and alternate between the two, when the interviewer is talking look at their image on the screen but try to mix that up by looking into the camera when you are answering a question.

Essentially in a face to face interview you are able to build a rapport using your enthusiasm, body language, handshake and early small talk. When communicating virtually, it’s still necessary to find ways to establish rapport. You can do this by being prepared to talk about a common interest, asking how your interviewer’s experience has been with virtual interviews or by finding some other neutral topic with which to learn more about your interviewer.

5. Notes

Because the interviewer can’t see your desk it can be tempting to have lots of notes around you to refer to but the key to a virtual interview is establishing that connection with the interviewer and that is very difficult to do if looking down at notes a lot of the time. This can also interrupt the flow of the interview so instead perhaps consider a couple of post it notes on the wall behind your screen with a couple of key points to help prompt important info that you don’t want to forget.

6. Follow up

Within 24 hours of the interview, send an individual thank you email to everyone you met. Not only will it show you value their time, but it provides you the opportunity to resell yourself and express the unique strengths you bring to the role, or share any talking points you forgot to address.

If there was something specific you bonded over, mention that in the email so you stay top of their mind. Or if an interviewer brought up a particular business challenge, use the follow-up as a way to propose potential solutions. Just remember to keep the email concise.

The final thing and most important thing to remember about the whole Virtual interview process is to be yourself!! Ultimately, you want to spend as little time as possible during a video interview focused on the video part. “What counts is the connection you make with an interviewer.

Are you preparing for a virtual interview or looking for a new position? Dovetail can provide you with all manner of advice around the whole recruitment process so call us today on 01635 43100 or email [email protected]