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Virtual Interviews On The Rise


Over the years, the way we get a job has changed, but the end goal remains the same – Stand out as the best candidate to get hired. In the past, we may have gotten hired on a handshake at the end of an in-person interview. In today’s world, most companies now are using the virtual interview option more often than in prior years. During this first “face-to-face” contact with the company, you’re likely to be screened first with a virtual interview, either through a one-sided digital video question/answer session, or by a live talent acquisition specialist who will filter out the best candidates before presenting them to the hiring manager for a potential second interview or to seal the deal.

However the first “meeting” is conducted, a virtual interview allows the talent acquisition specialist to get a feeling of who you are as a job seeker and whether or not you are a good fit for the hiring manager to pursue further. Unfortunately, the majority of individuals are not prepared for this type of interview even though they are typically notified in advance that it will be treated like an in-person interview. Don’t let a virtual interview catch you off guard. Follow these insightful tips to making a good impression and getting your foot in the door to landing the job.

Do your research

First, always be prepared. Treat the virtual interview as you would a face-to-face, in-person meeting. This starts by doing your homework to make sure you have researched the company before your scheduled interview. Learn as much as you can beforehand, including the background of the company, the position and its responsibilities, as well as your potential boss or co-workers. As you learn more about your potential future employer, ask yourself why you want to work for them.

Set the stage

Unlike an in-office interview, the virtual kind actually gives you some advantages. One big advantage is that you are able to set the stage entirely for how you want to present yourself, including your surroundings. You choose the environment that will frame your backdrop, so make sure you choose wisely. Don’t sit down in front of a computer laptop webcam at a bad angle and built-in mic with muffled sound on intermittent WiFi in the middle of a cluttered room with children, spouses, roommates, or pets running in and out of the room as you try to make a good impression.

Instead, about a week before your online session, log into the online platform that will be used or download the necessary app. Also, purchase a decent webcam and plug-in microphone. Fortunately, you can pick up decent webcams and mics without shelling out a fortune of money. If you’re concerned with your WiFi connection, go ahead and connect everything directly to your Ethernet in a room that is quiet and well lit but uncluttered. Once you have everything tested and ready to go, take some time to practice with your set up.

Eliminate distractions

It’s very important to eliminate any possible distractions that could throw the focus off of you or make you look unprofessional. Turn off any radio, Spotify, or TV noise that could be heard in the background. Also, make arrangements for someone to take the dog for a walk or to take the children out to play, and be sure to inform any other family members or friends who may be in the house at the time that you will be conducting a job interview. If your home is not conducive to accommodating, you may be able to reserve a study or business room on campus or at a nearby library or hotel. Just make sure the internet connection won’t be an issue and that the room you choose is truly private.

Look like you’ve already got the job

Be sure to dress appropriately, and not just from the waste up. It is possible you may need to stand up at some point, and if you’re only half dressed, this could be an incredibly embarrassing moment that could be replayed again and again by the interviewer. There is no need to go formal with tuxedo or black evening gown, but don’t show up like you just rolled out of bed either. It’s equally, and probably even more, important that you look professional on camera as it would be to show up in a suit and briefcase in hand at an in-person interview.

Present the right angle

One thing about a video session that is different to a traditional face-to-face meeting is that you will need to pay close attention at all times to the camera angle. To start with, position it so that it’s basically at eye level and not looking up to form a double chin or awkwardly looking down from the top of your head.

Natural eye contact

One of the most challenging parts of a video interview is going to be remembering to make eye contact with the camera, but not in a stiff or unnatural way. This is even tricky for news anchor people to learn. It’s especially difficult not to divert your eyes when trying to read notes. However, this doesn’t mean that you stare at the camera in a trance-like manner the entire time. Be natural but mindful that the camera is picking up, and possibly even evaluating using AI, your facial expressions and eye contact. Don’t let that scare you. Instead, take charge with confidence by practicing with your webcam beforehand to give you an idea of exactly how you look on camera and make adjustments accordingly ahead of time.

An insider heads-up advice: A nice tip for reading notes while maintaining proper eye contact with the camera is to jot a few key points down on sticky notes and position them around the webcam so that all is needed is a slight eye movement to remember all of your talking points.

When you’re smiling…

Remember that, to determine if you are a good fit for the company, in addition to your skills, the talent acquisition specialist is most likely going to be looking to see how well you communicate, whether or not you show initiative, and how creatively you think or problem solve on the spot. Relax, and let your personality show without being too stiff or too showy. Above all else, be yourself and don’t forget to smile.

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