8 Tips to Succeed in Your Next Virtual Job Interview

Virtual recruiting, remote hiring, and virtual onboarding have become the norm for almost all employers these days. Since the pandemic outbreak, the hiring process has become a brave new world for employers and candidates. 

Employers found themselves having to rapidly experiment and test various virtual recruiting and hiring strategies for the past seven or eight months of the pandemic. What was once a forced grand experiment, is now being adopted as standard practice by many employers. Recruiting, hiring and even employee onboarding practices have been redefined; we now see companies regularly hosting ZOOM hiring events and conducting initial and final job interviews in a completely virtual fashion. 

What’s more, the new virtual hiring models appear to be working just fine. Many employers have found these virtual hiring practices to be more efficient, and have learned how to make them just as effective as well. This all means that companies will most likely continue to utilize virtual approaches, either partially or fully, even after the pandemic is over. 

What does this mean for you as a job seeker? It means that you need to learn how to prepare for and succeed in your virtual job interviews. 

The remote hiring process presents some new considerations and challenges for you to consider as a job seeker.  That’s why we put together some helpful tips and advice for you to nail your next virtual job interview and land that dream job. 

Here are eight tips to succeed in your next virtual job interview:

Test Your Tech

As we all know, the tech we use can be disrupted by many factors, but as the job seeker, you want to be sure that the cause of a dropped ZOOM meeting is not on your end. Take these few steps to prepare and you should be in the clear. First, update your device and your video software. This means restarting your laptop and installing any system updates. Also, make sure you know what video platform the employer is using and download the application or any updates in advance. Employers don’t want to hear the excuse that you were late because you had to reboot your device or download the software. That just shows that you weren’t prepared.

You also want to do a test run of your audio, headset, and camera to make sure they are all working correctly, and it’s important that you test these using whatever video platform your employer uses. Lastly, we recommend running a speed test for your router and device so you can detect and troubleshoot any wifi issues early. Verizon’s speed test is one application you can use, and most other internet providers will offer a free diagnostic app as well. 

These few tests can save you from any tech issues disrupting the interview for your dream job. 

Prepare Your Space and Backdrop

If you have dedicated home office space, make sure it is tidy, paying particular attention to what is viewable in the background, and that the lighting is adequate. This is the time to put away that inappropriate, novelty coffee mug you received on your last birthday. Virtual interviews now give employers a glimpse inside your personal world, so this is a great opportunity to use this to your advantage. 

Your background has become an opportunity for you to showcase your personal brand, and why you should be their next hire. So, throw some DNA artwork up on the wall, stack up the recent books you’ve read on the shelf, showcase your favorite sports team and have a picture of your family. Have fun with it and show your prospective employer what inspires you and what reflects the best qualities of who you are.

Dress Appropriately

While everyone understands that people wear a nice shirt on top and sweatpants below, dress as if you are doing the interview in person. If you do the proper research, you can easily get a sense of a company’s culture by reading online reviews or perusing their website and looking at the images used. Dressing appropriately is also known to increase your confidence in an interview setting. Be proud of dressing professionally! 

Reduce Potential Distractions

Interviews are hard enough without unexpected distractions to knock you off course. Put your cat and/or dog outside; arrange for someone to watch your kids for a while during the interview; make sure no contractors are showing up to do repairs, mow the lawn or blow leaves. The fewer potential distractions the better for both you and your potential employer conducting the virtual interview. 

Do Your Research, Be Prepared

Just because an interview is virtual, doesn’t mean the old standby of doing research about a company, the role and the industry is obsolete. You can have the best lighting, no tech hiccups and no distractions, but if you aren’t informed and prepared it will all be for naught. The good news is that since you’re in the comfort of your own home and they can’t see your desk, you can have a cheat sheet in front of you if it helps you remember names or other important information. Just don’t rely on it so much that you’re not maintaining your eye contact with the interviewers.

Hiring managers and those conducting the interview still value preparedness and effort. The pandemic has not changed that. In fact, many employers are producing more employer branding content and other valuable information than ever before. For instance, virtual recruiting events and webinars, virtual site tours and hiring manager profiles are being used to replace the important insights you would have previously experienced through your site visits and in-person interactions. This is all a major advantage for job seekers in the virtual world.

Be Aware of Your Body Language

The fact is that sitting in the same room with an interviewer is just different than interacting online. It’s important to be hyper-aware of your body language in an interview, but in the case of virtual interviews, understanding your habits and proclivities in this new environment could help you avoid negative perceptions on the part of the interviewers.

Make Eye Contact and Engage

Anyone that has ever been on a ZOOM meeting, and especially those that are unused to interacting in this arena, understand that knowing where to look can be tricky and distracting. Do you find yourself looking at your own ZOOM window only? Are you distracted by four or five ZOOM windows up on a screen at once? Can you adjust to any lag in the audio? It takes some time to get used to; it takes practice to make eye strong contact with the interviewer that’s currently speaking; it takes discipline to adjust to audio lag and avoid awkward interactions or misunderstanding. Winging your first virtual interview is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you do a practice ZOOM meeting or Google Meet with friends or family and conduct mock virtual interviews. This will help you start to recognize the patterns of your virtual behaviors. 

Always Follow Up

While the standard interview format has changed slightly, the recipe for being successful and standing out as a candidate has not. Always ensure that you follow up with a brief ‘thank you’ email with the interviewer, highlighting any rapport you may have built, as well as why you are interested in the position based on the information you gained from the interview. If you want extra points, connect with them on LinkedIn too.

These are new considerations for job seekers, but the age-old best practices of being prepared, building rapport, asking smart, open questions, and following up still play an integral role in getting hired. Today, job seekers need to blend the traditional with the new to succeed in a remote hiring environment.

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Mark Aldridge

Mark Aldridge

Mark currently is a Senior Recruiting Manager at the Life Sciences recruiting and branding firm, Workforce Genetics. He is leading the expansion and growth of the company in the Greater Philadelphia area as well as managing a full desk recruiting position.
Mark Aldridge

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