Comma’s top tips for Virtual Interviews

28 May 2020

How to get your best self across in a virtual interview.

Interviews are already stressful enough but, for many, the prevalence of the virtual interview is exacerbating those stress levels even further. One interim recently told me she dreads any video conferencing and knows she does not get her best self across. So, what makes the virtual interview so different to the face-to-face interview?

  • Talking to a screen is a little odd; you are not in a room with the interviewer, you cannot read their body language and the technology can put some of us on edge.
  • Some people come across as very serious, tired, or rigid in virtual situations as they focus intently on the screen
  • Certain movements and expressions can be more noticeable, perhaps the interviewer is fiddling with a pen or moving in their chair.
  • Without a pre-existing relationship between interviewer and interviewee, it can be awkward to point out if the set-up is not right, perhaps the interviewer is looking away to one side or their face is in shadow.
  • There is a temptation to be more casual about a virtual interview and as both parties are in their homes, there could be unwelcome interruptions at the front door or people moving around.
  • The dress code is unclear too; more than usual, interviewees ask me what to wear as it seems more open than before.
  • Some interviewees are more introvert and feel so uncomfortable with virtual technology that they are distracted from what they want to say.
  • Unforeseen circumstances will occur – a teenager may sabotage the broadband by going on to Netflix at the same time as your interview. I have had problems with the camera on Zoom the first time I used it despite having practised first.

Here are our top 10 tips to make sure you get your best self across.

  1. Treat a virtual interview professionally; be sure that dogs and children are not going to interrupt you; put a note out in case of deliveries, have a glass of water nearby and a tissue!
  2. Don’t be tempted to be too casual – err on the side of over-dressed. It can help with focus too.
  3. Be familiar with the client’s choice of technology. Don’t say, “I have never done this before”. As acommunicator, you need to be confident with all these types of technology.
  4. Allow time in advance to check the camera – does it work? What about the sound – is the quality goodenough? Do you need to replace any equipment?
  5. Read through your CV slowly and practise some likely questions to camera by yourself or with someone inyour house.
  6. On the day adjust your chair position, the height of your laptop (so you are visible in the middle of thescreen), check the lighting, and turn off your mobile. Some people are more confident with some extra make-up when they appear on screen.
  7. Do not set up with a window behind you and check the wall behind your chair for distracting photos ordecorations; a blank wall is recommended. Try and relax in your seat and sit slightly forward.
  8. Be open with your interviewer and ask if your position, the sound, and the camera are ok for them.
  9. Before you start the interview ensure you have a phone number and a back-up plan on who will call who ifthe technology fails.
  10. Have a sense of humour and be flexible.

Having talked to interim candidates who have been interviewed virtually over the last few months, my sense is that they are much harsher on themselves than they need to be. But it is important to prepare how you are seen on screen. Once the setting is right, you can then focus more easily on your questions and answers.

For more tips, take a look at this link: experience/2020/tips-for-conducting-seamless-virtual-job-interview.

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