COVID has changed the way we attend job interviews. Rather than going into an office, now we’re increasingly attending interviews online. This isn’t going to stop after the pandemic, so you can expect more of these virtual interviews in the future.
Online interviews can feel intimidating at first, but it is possible to get skilled at them. This article will give you some tips for successfully navigating online interviews.
Note: This is different from a recorded interview where you film yourself on video and record answers to questions that appear on the screen. Read our tips for recorded interviews in this article.
What is an online interview?
A face-to-face online interview is where your interviewer or panel is on the screen in front of you.
Most of us have attended an online meeting over the last year due to COVID, so we’re starting to get more comfortable with them. You might have attended via a Zoom, Skype, Teams or even a Google Meet invitation in your email.
If you’re asked to attend an online interview, you should prepare well in advance to make sure all goes smoothly on the day.
Check your technology works
See the interview invitation for the app you’ll be using – e.g. Zoom or Skype. These apps are simple to install on your computer or phone if necessary. When you click on the invitation link, your device will tell you if you need to install anything and should lead you through the process. Do this well before your interview.
Once you have the application, set up a mock interview with yourself or, ideally, a friend or family member. They can get on their device and tell you how it’s looking. Check your microphone and speakers or headphones if you use them.
If your webcam is quite blurry (which happens with older laptops), consider using a phone camera instead, as they’re usually better quality. Make sure your battery is charged.
Check your environment
Turn on your camera and see what is around you. Is there an inappropriate poster? An open clothes cupboard? A toilet with an open door?
Place your camera facing a wall, plant or other nice background.
Try out different lighting options until you find the most flattering combination of natural light and artificial light. YouTube has great advice about lighting for video.
Block out the time
If the location for your online interview – often your home – is noisy, you may need to re-organise things to ensure you have peace and quiet during your interview.
Of course, you can’t stop the neighbours deciding to mow the lawn during your interview, but you do need to control what you can. If you would usually get a babysitter to travel to an interview, consider doing it for an online interview as well.
Just treat the online interview as you would a normal interview.
Prepare as you usually would
Don’t be tempted to dress down or more casually for an online job interview. Prepare your appearance just as you would for an in-person interview.
And, as an extra check, see how the outfit looks on camera. For example, a bright red shirt in a room might look great, but it might be too distracting on a small screen. Similarly, some textures and patterns can be hard on the eyes on a screen.
Remove anything that jumps out or makes noise (like jangly jewellery).
Take a breath
Use the hour before the interview to make sure you’re all set up with:
- water, a pen and notepad
- the questions you want to ask
- the answers to the questions they’ll probably ask you.
Turn off the television, your phone and anything else that could be distracting. Take a breath and get prepared mentally.
During the interview
Note your interviewer’s names when they’re introduced. In an in-person interview, you can just turn to them to ask a question. On camera, you’ll need to get their attention by saying their name.
Let a person finish speaking before talking, as it’s easy for confusion to occur when it’s not clear who is speaking. Especially if there is a delay.
Look at the camera if you want to seem like you’re making eye contact.
Don’t focus on your own image. If you’ve done the work, you don’t need to worry about what you look like in the interview.
Try not to stress if the technology doesn’t play the game. Just check what you can and they will check on their end. If you need to, shut it all down and restart. Your interviewers will usually understand – it’s an inevitable part of online interviews.
Want more help?
Online interviews may suit some people, but others may struggle with this new normal. However, it is going to become commonplace, so it’s worth learning as much as you can about online interviews, so you can ace your next one!
We can help you with that. Here at Alpha Resumes, we run one-on-one interview preparation sessions and personal coaching to help you practise and gain confidence. We are also offer an amazing resume writing service.
Contact us to find out more.