How to Ace the Virtual Interview

The interview: one fateful hour for a candidate to convince an interviewer to hire them and for an interviewer to determine if a candidate has what they’re looking for. There is a lot riding on that one conversation!

No matter what side of the interview you’re on, there can be a lot to think (and overthink) about. What are you going to wear? Have you prepared enough? How can you make the other person see what you have to offer? To add to the typical stresses of the interview process, video interviewing is becoming more and more common and bringing new challenges and considerations.

Whether you’re a candidate looking for your dream job or a hiring manager looking for your dream employee, here are some tips to help you ace the virtual interview:

1. Test Your Tech – You wouldn’t want to be late for an in-person interview, so don’t let technology troubles make you late for a virtual interview either. The old rule of thumb also applies to video interviews: arrive 15 minutes early. Test out the link ahead of time to ensure your Zoom, Skype or Teams meeting opens without issue, and test your sound and video before you jump on the call. Arriving on time and prepared will ensure a strong first impression!

2. Reduce Distractions – Make sure you have a quiet space where you can give your full attention and won’t be interrupted. If your dog is barking, your kids are screaming in the other room, or someone is knocking on your door, it’s not only distracting but can make you seem unprepared. Make necessary arrangements, let others know not to disturb you, and remember to set phone and computer notifications to silent before the interview starts.

3. Be Aware of Body Language – A large part of communication is through body language, but nonverbal communication can be more challenging through video than face-to-face. Some behaviours, such as fidgeting or not paying attention, are very noticeable on video, while other nonverbal cues can be more difficult to pick up on. Be aware of your body language and make sure it’s communicating what you want it to. Project enthusiasm by smiling, demonstrate confidence by sitting up straight and speaking clearly, and create connection through “eye contact” by looking into the webcam (rather than staring at the video).

4. Look the Part – Face-to-face or virtual, when it comes to an interview it’s important to look professional. In a virtual interview this doesn’t mean just putting on your best suit, though. You also have to consider how lighting and background reflect on your appearance. Proper lighting is key, and your background should be clean and professional (i.e. not your unmade bed). You can also use your background to share a bit of your personal brand or company culture. Place a few items or décor behind you that reflect who you are: a photo from your travels, a favourite book, or a relevant award. Avoid using virtual backgrounds in an interview, as they can cause blurring and cut in and out, which may be distracting for the other participant.

Your Engaged Assignment: The next time you’re heading into a virtual interview, take some time to think about what message you want to convey and how you can use body language and background to do so. A little bit of reflection and preparation goes a long way!