The pandemic has taught us many things, including work can be done remotely without the need to be confined in a physical place. This applies to job interviews as well. As many companies have started to adopt a hybrid working culture, having virtual interviews can save money and time for both parties. If you’ve not been in an online interview before, the experience can be a bit nerve-wrecking and totally different than the physical meeting. Worry not, here are 7 brilliant tips for you to ace that virtual interview with flying colours!
1) Eliminate distractions (including your pets and kids)
The first tip warrants you a peace of mind and full attention on the interview. Eliminating all distractions including noises from your neighbour’s barking dog or your own 2-year-old’s loud tantrum can help you tremendously in giving 100%. Close the door and all windows in your room. Turn off the TV, silence your phone and make sure the people who stay in the same house know that you have an important meeting to attend so they will not cook, vacuum the house or do anything that can ruin your interview.
2) Find a neutral background
Giving attention to your background is crucial. It does not help to have colourful, bright and chaotic wallpaper unless you’re interviewing as an interior designer. Minimise the number of items that can be seen from your camera. The best is to have a plain blank background that doesn’t clash with your shirt. Allow for at least 3 feet minimum between the back of your head and the wall so you will not blend into the background and look flat.
3) Pay attention to lighting!
Lighting can be a real problem when setting up the space for an interview. Of course, natural lighting from the sun is the best option but if your interview happens at night time, you should consider these options:
Get plenty of light overall so the interviewer can have a clear view of your face and attire.
Position two lights, one to your right and one to your left. There are many options of portable LED light kits for photography or video that can be used for this purpose. Avoid fluorescent bulbs or other “cool” tone light that can jeopardise the quality of your video.
Eliminate direct backlighting (close the curtain to avoid this), and avoid direct shine over your head. Ensure the lighting is evenly spread across your face and background.
4) Choose the small chair
The gaming chair is comfortable, yes but it’s not suitable for an interview. Do not use a big chair (bigger than your body) or a sagging couch that will make your posture look weird and slouching. Body gesture is as important as the conversation that you’re going to have, so it's important to find a comfortable, low-backed chair that is able to make you sit upright and doesn’t creak when you move.
5) Look at the camera!
It can be awkward and uncomfortable, having to talk in front of the camera and smiling like you actually talk to someone IRL when in fact, you’re just facing the screen. But do not let these feelings get to you. It takes some practice to feel natural but you’ll get there eventually. During the interview, make sure to position the camera at your eye-level because you need to look at the camera as much as possible to appear as if you’re making eye-contact with the interviewer. Looking at the screen will make you look as if you’re staring into a blank space. To do this, stack books or boxes before you place your laptop on top so you can adjust the positioning of the camera accordingly.
6) Test your gadgets
This tip goes without saying. Before starting the interview, please make sure to download or sign-up for the same application that your interviewer is using, ie: Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Team. Install a copy in your smartphone and in a back up laptop just in case your main device fails on the day of the interview. Get familiar with the app and its functions. Run a test with your earbuds, camera, lighting (wear the interview attire) and the voice function prior, to ensure everything is working smoothly. On the day of the interview itself, run the test again so you will feel more confident and relaxed, knowing that everything is in place.
7) Practise makes perfect
As mentioned previously, a virtual interview can feel like a one-man’s show. It’s not easy to have a back-to-back conversation and everyone must wait for their turn to speak with buffer, unlike in a physical setting where this happens smoothly with no hiccups. To avoid feeling nervous & awkward, practice your speech, answers and facial expressions by recording yourself talking in front of the laptop. Additionally, apps like Zoom allow you to record your meeting, so use this feature to polish your interview skills. By studying how you did in an interview, you will be able to identify areas for improvements and nail the next one.