Preparing for virtual interviews
Submitted by Lisa Holman, Co-operative Education Consultant
Being prepared for an interview, whether it be by phone, in-person or virtually, is essential to feel at ease, stay focused on the conversation and allow your authentic self to shine through. Nerves don’t discriminate, everyone gets nervous before and during interviews. The best thing we can do to combat those nerves is showing up to the interview prepared because preparation equals confidence.
Here are a few tips to help you be successful in your next virtual interview.
1 Test your technology
Confirm you have the proper software installed (Zoom, MS Teams, Webex etc.) and complete a couple of test runs to ensure it works with your device(s) and that your camera and microphone are working. You’ll want to verify a solid internet connection and have earbuds or headphones to hear clearly if there’s any possibility of background noise. Technology isn’t perfect and glitches can happen at either end so be sure to have the interviewer's phone number or email address in case something happens to your connection so you can quickly get back in touch.
2 Ask for clarification
If anything is unclear to you before the day of your interview, be sure to clarify with the recruiter or hiring manager – don’t assume anything. Following up to ask clarifying questions, especially if you have to complete a presentation or testing, will ensure you are on the right track with your preparation. You will not be relaxed if you run into technology issues or can’t figure something out at the last minute and it’s too late to reach anyone. Prior to you interview is also when you want to identify any necessary accommodations you require so those arrangements can be made for you.
3 Organize your space
This means finding an area with no distractions and creating a focused environment. If people are going to be home, ensure they know you can’t be interrupted. Putting a "do not disturb" sign on the door is a good idea. You’ll want a professional background with no distractions (TV off and cellphones silenced). Make sure you have a comfortable place to sit up straight with good lighting, preferably near a window. If lighting is an issue, consider purchasing an inexpensive ring light to set in front of you.
4 Sit down prepared
Have everything you need to stay focused neatly set out in your space. This might include a water bottle, a copy of your resume, the job posting and any notes you want to refer to. Brightly coloured sticky notes work great to quickly reference and remember key things. You’ll want to avoid clicking around on your computer for information or getting up from your space to grab things as this is distracting on both ends.
Remember to dress the part. You might be sitting in your bedroom for your interview, but dress as you would for an in-person interview. This will show you are serious about the position and will also give you the feeling of "getting ready" for your interview even though you are not physically there in person.
5 Be Yourself
Last, but not least, this is probably the most important tip to remember. We are all human and no one is expecting perfection. Sometimes, no matter how much we prepare, certain things are out of our control (hello technology) and honesty is best in these cases. Don’t be afraid to take a moment for a sip of water and a deep breath to compose your thoughts before moving on. Interviewers are trying to determine whether you would be a good fit for the company’s culture and this can be challenging in a virtual environment because there is a physical disconnect. Smiling and being expressive with your answers with allow the interviewers to feel your enthusiasm through the camera. Finally, after your interview wraps up, an email to the panel is always a nice touch to reiterate your interest in the position and thank everyone for taking the time to meet with you.