For many professionals, the job interview landscape has changed. Employers are increasingly using virtual interviews to vet candidates. Along with concerns relating to the pandemic, virtual interviews are convenient and affordable, making them increasingly the preferred strategy for busy hiring managers looking to keep budgets under control.
While much of the virtual interview experience mimics the in-person one, there are some key differences candidates must navigate. By using the right approach, you increase your odds of making a good first impression, leading to a higher chance of securing the job. If you aren’t sure how to ensure your virtual interview impresses, here are some tips that every candidate should know.
You Need to Set the Stage
During a virtual interview, the hiring manager is going to get a small glimpse into your world, usually a part of your home. Ideally, you need to make sure that you set the stage in a way that, at a minimum, doesn’t distract the hiring manager.
Make sure the background is as neutral as possible and free of clutter. Remove any items that are overly bright, or that may not be suitably professional. Additionally, opt for colors that show well on camera, like soft grays, beige, blues, or greens.
If your actual background can’t be made ideal, consider using a virtual one if the feature is available. Otherwise, see about hanging a pair of curtains behind you or consider placing your back against a non-white set of closet doors, as that may work in a pinch.
Once you have a spot, you need to check your lighting. Ideally, you want to let natural light into your space and fill in any dark areas with lamps. If you’re worried about evenness, you can get a ring light to attach to your computer.
Do a Tech Check
Since you’re interviewing virtually, you need to do a quick tech check a few days before the meeting. Make sure your camera and microphone come through clearly, and that you can easily hear the person on the other side through your speakers or headphones. Do a speed test to ensure the picture or audio won’t stutter, too.
You’ll also want to download any needed software in advance. That allows you to familiarize yourself with the features and, potentially, complete a test call before the big day. Then, if you run into issues, you have enough time for troubleshooting.
Practice the Right Way
With a video interview, it’s easy to assume that preparation isn’t as important. After all, you could leave notes – or entire prewritten answers to interview questions – on your screen, making it easier to touch on every critical point.
The problem is that hiring managers can tell if you’re reading from a script. When you focus on the screen, your eyes look like their pointed down from the hiring manager’s perspective. Plus, they’ll see your eyes moving across the screen, which is a giveaway.
Instead, diligently rehearse your answers while learning to mimic eye contact. You’ll need to glance at the camera – not the screen – to make it seem like you’re looking at the hiring manager’s eyes. Since that can take some getting used to, consider taping a brightly colored sticky note with an arrow pointing at the camera next to the lens. That will draw your attention up, making it easier to remember to look at the right spot.
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