What to keep in mind in an online job interview
By Rilind Elijaz
What to keep in mind in an online job interview
The global economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus and as a result, many employers are firing or sending their employees on compulsory leave. But that is not to mean that things won’t get better. As the corporate world prepares to bounce back from the COVID-19 shock, you can bet that there will be a lot of hiring and employee reorganization. Every employer wants to get rid of deadwood within their workforce and bring in talents that are able to cope and offer solutions during a crisis. And guess what; most hiring processes will be happening online.
Your résumé caught an employer’s eye and you have been called to interview for your dream position via a videoconferencing platform. How do you prepare for the interview, noting that this is probably your first interview of this kind? Well, here are 7 tips that will help you ace an online interview:
1. Your technology needs to be quality and effective
There are many video conferencing tools these days, including Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom. Note the platform that the interviewer will be using and familiarise with it beforehand. Not knowing how to use a platform can be overwhelming and discomforting, and you don’t want that during an interview. It also helps to have a reliable internet connection, webcam, and audio hardware. Test them all beforehand to ensure that they work optimally.
2. Punctuality is vital
If you were going for an in-person interview, you probably would wake up early, prepare, and be at the interview venue earlier than indicated in the invitation letter. It is courteous to be punctual for online interviews as well, even if you will still be in your house. Log on about 10-20 minutes earlier and wait for the interviewer as opposed to the interviewer waiting for you.
3. You need the perfect setting for the video
Your lighting should be on point. Keep your camera in a place where it doesn’t capture shadows and in a way that natural light from the window isn’t distracting. Note that you could miss the opportunity if your video is dark and the interviewers cannot see you. Picking the right spot should be one of your important preparations in the run-up to the interview.
It is also important to note that the size and shape of the furniture you use during the interview also matters a lot. Slouching on a couch, for example, might not appear professional enough from the interviewer’s perspective. An oversized chair or a chair that creaks when you move will also not make the cut. Find a good office chair for the interview.
Lastly, your setting also needs to be free of pets, toddlers, or creepy onlookers. You also don’t want a pile of laundry appearing in the background. Find a good backdrop for the video and lock the door to ensure that no one sneaks in.
If you cannot fulfill all the above video requirements at home, maybe you should consider holding your online interview from a coworking space. Coworking spaces are useful for interviews because they are quiet, you can always get help from other professionals in case you need it, the technology there is reliable, and there are no pets walking on the keyboard.
4. What you wear still matters
Dress as professionally as you would if you were going for an in-person interview. Take your time to research about the company’s dressing culture and wear what they consider appropriate. However, to look your best on camera, wear soft colors instead of bright ones. The latter can appear disruptive or excessively bright under all the lighting you’ve set up. Patterned clothes also don’t look too professional on camera. For interviewees who wear glasses, find an angle that doesn’t reflect any glare from the lenses. Don’t be tempted to not wear pants or a skirt during the interview, or to dress inappropriately from the waist below. You might need to stand up mid-session.
5. Your body language matters a lot
Monitor your body language through the entire interview. Sit up straight and with confidence, smile when appropriate, and look directly into the camera (that is how you maintain eye contact in a video).
6. Remember that you have competition even as much as you can’t see them
You cannot see your competitors on a queue as you would in an in-person interview, but they are there. Be as competitive as you can. Try to connect with the interviewer on a personal level.
7. Mind how you speak and listen
Speak slowly and clearly to ensure that the interviewer catches everything you say. Technology isn’t always reliable- the microphone might not pick up some words you say or, due to buffering, some of your speech might be incoherent from the interviewer’s end. Enunciate your words in order to be heard and understood.
On the other hand, the interviewer might be incoherent from your end but, unlike him/her, you cannot keep asking him/her to repeat a statement. You need to hear the questions in just one attempt, so you must listen extra carefully. It also pays to pay attention to all nonverbal cues.
Video interviews might become the new normal post-coronavirus. If not for the actual interview, employers will be using online tools to narrow down their applicants’ list before calling them for in-person interviews. That’s without forgetting that for anyone looking for overseas job opportunities, the easiest way to cut down on travel expenses, for most companies, is interviewing talents via video. Clearly, job seekers cannot run away from practicing for online job interviews. The earlier you start, the better for you.