September 16, 2019

How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

These days, everything is virtual. It’s nice to get to know someone face-to-face even when you can’t be in the same room. You might feel very comfortable with phone interviews, or using FaceTime or Skype with your friends and family, but a virtual interview is different.

It’s important to treat and prepare for your video interview just as you would an in-person meeting. Below are some tips to ensure your video interviewing skills are just as perfected as your work experience. We want to help you ace the conversation and get the right position.

Before the Interview

1. Prepare Your Technology

Test your technology. Ensure that Skype, Zoom, WebEx, or whatever platform will be used for your interview is properly installed and that you have an account – or you create one in advance – if needed.  It’s best to familiarize yourself with the program so you can easily navigate and troubleshoot prior to the meeting. For video interviews, “dressing to impress” isn’t just about your appearance and clothing. It also includes your account profiles. The interviewer’s first impression of you will be your username and profile picture. Make sure both are appropriate for business.

  • Be sure to check your internet connection, audio, video, lighting and background. Conduct a couple trial runs with friends or family.
  • Get your equipment and location interview-ready. The interviewer will notice your background and surroundings, so make sure you find an appropriate place to have the video call. Here’s a few things to consider:
    • Set up the camera at eye level to avoid any awkward angles.
    • Choose a quiet location.
    • Pick an area with a plain background and remove anything distracting.
      Note: Many platforms now offer virtual backgrounds. These can be really fun, and even add a personal touch. If you choose to go this route, just remember to keep it professional.
    • Make sure surroundings are clean and tidy.
    • Find the right lighting to ensure the interviewer can see you clearly.
    • Do not sit with a window or other light source behind you as this will create shadows on your face.
  • If using Skype, ask for the interviewer’s username and connect with them on the day before. This will make it easier to video chat at the time of the interview.

2. Prepare Yourself 

  • Identify and mitigate any potential interruptions. Let everyone know ahead of time that you will be interviewing and secure any pets. Close all other open windows and programs on your computer. It’s best to even make your profile invisible or unavailable to avoid interruptions. You will also want to turn off your phone and any alerts on your computer so no noises or messages pop up and distract you from the interview.
  • Dress the part, head to toe, by wearing the same attire you would for an in-person interview (business professional). While the camera should show you from the waist up, if there is any chance you will need to get up in the middle of the interview, you want to make sure your pants are professional. Keep in mind that the outfit you’re wearing also works for video. Certain colors look great while others may appear too bright. Stick to neutrals, shades of blues and solids over patterns.
  • Log in at least 10 minutes early to make sure everything is still working properly and allow yourself some time for troubleshooting any last minute glitches.
  • Do your research, just as you would with any other interview.

During the Interview 

  • Introduce yourself and confirm that the interviewer can hear and see you well.
  • Keep a copy of your resume and any other documents handy. Write down your questions in advance, just like you would in an in-person interview. Have pen and paper available to write down any notes or questions during the conversation. Avoid taking notes on your computer as it can come across that you are distracting or multi-tasking.
  • Practice but don’t memorize what you want to say.  Just like any other conversation, you want to appear confident, relaxed, and natural.
  • With a video interview it can be easy to forget, but body language is just as important as in an in-person interview. Make sure your body language expresses that you are interested and engaged in the conversation. Be sure you:
    • Have good posture, smile and be energetic.
    • Use your hands effectively and appropriately to communicate key points.
    • Be careful of overdoing it with large gestures as there may be a lag in the video and these movements could drag across the screen.
    • Make eye contact with the interviewer with a goal of maintaining it 60-70% of the time. To do this you will need to look directly at the camera and avoid watching yourself on the screen.
  • Be honest and up front if something goes wrong with your technology or an unplanned distraction. We’re all human, and things happen. Even though you have worked to minimize distractions, and communicated the importance of this quiet time to others in your household, the doorbell could ring unexpectedly, the dog could bark, or a variety of other things could happen right in the middle of your conversation. Stay calm. If something does occur during the interview, address it – apologize for the interruption and move on.
  • Be aware of your speech. Try not to talk too fast and articulate your words so nothing you say is missed. Also remember that the microphone can pick up any noise, so don’t shuffle around papers or nervously tap your pen or finger.

After the Interview 

  • Make sure your technology (video and microphone) is fully disconnected.
  • It’s important to follow up with a thank you email or card just as you would any other interview. Here’s some great tips from Glassdoor on creating a memorable thank you message.
  • If you’re working with a recruiter, follow up with them to share feedback on the experience. Let them know if you’re interested in the role and anything else relevant to your discussion. They can then follow up with the client and reinforce any key discussion items, as appropriate.

Are you ready to put these tips to the test?  Whether you are currently looking for your next project or are simply planning ahead, we look forward to getting to know you. Connect with an Oxford recruiter today to join our network.

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Whether you want to advance your business or your career, Oxford is here to help. With nearly 40 years’ experience, we know that a great partnership is key to success. Start a conversation today.