Written by: Daniel Goodson // Feb 9, 2021
Last updated: Feb 9, 2021
With all the pandemic upheavals over the past year, hiring was not spared. Among the most notable changes in employment recently was the rapid transition to a virtual environment, and not just for current employees. If you’ve hit the job market lately or are considering it, you’ve probably noticed that at least part of the hiring process includes an online interview component. With this change comes some uncertainty, but also opportunities to shine. Keep reading to find out how to get the job virtually.
Perform an Interview Test Run When Applying Virtually
One of the most common issues employers see when candidates are applying virtually is failing to do a test run for the online interview. All too often, applicants attempt to log in to the online interview a few minutes before the start time only to realize that they have to download software to run a conferencing program that they’ve never used. After several frantic minutes of panicked clicking, they may show up to the interview late, flustered, and with a much lower chance of making it to the next round.
As soon as you get that confirmation email with your virtual interview details, read it completely and take a few steps to prepare:
- Familiarize yourself with the virtual conferencing platform, including how to upload documents.
- Identify a location in your home with a strong internet signal.
- Pay attention to your background to ensure it’s not messy or distracting.
- Gather all documents that you may need electronically.
- Ensure proper lighting that illuminates your face and doesn’t come from behind you.
If you’re interviewing for the job virtually, there’s a strong chance that virtual work and technology will be part of the role, at least to some extent. Exhibiting any significant lack of technology skills could be detrimental to your chances of winning the role. Employers want to know that you’ll be able to hit the ground running without any extra training, so don’t undermine your skill set. Put in a little work up front to show them that you’re ready to take the role as soon as it’s handed to you.
Prepare as Much as You Would for an In-Person Interview
Interviewing at home has the tendency to lull you into a sense of comfort. After all, you didn’t have to wake up early, drive to an unfamiliar location, navigate traffic and parking, and find the office suite. This low-pressure start can be good if you show up more relaxed, but it can also prevent you from showing up with the focused mindset you need during your interview. Fight the urge to let your living room setting trick you into arriving unprepared.
Your potential employer will know that you take the role seriously when they see that you put in the work to carefully prepare. That includes dressing professionally and performing ample research on the company, competitors, and job responsibilities beforehand. However, your preparation also extends to how you conduct yourself during the interview. Bring the same energy to your virtual interview as you would for an in-person meeting. That means remembering to smile, stay engaged, and exhibit your passion for the company and job position.
Even remotely, potential employers will be able to spot your enthusiasm, putting you at the top of their candidate list. No matter how strong your resume, nothing turns off employers more than a candidate who looks like they’re just showing up for the paycheck. Preparing ahead of time allows you to learn about the company culture and show how your interests align with the company’s underlying mission, not just the day-to-day job functions.
Set Yourself Apart With Your Communication Skills
Believe it or not, communication ranks among the most valued skills to employers. Despite this, recruiters often cite it as one of the areas potential candidates could improve most. Feel like you have some room to improve concerning communication? Here’s the good news: You can take some steps to get significantly better.
In a virtual setting while you’re on camera, your communication skills take center stage. Fortunately, you can tilt the interview in your favor with some simple tactics:
- Slow down your speech delivery to make it easier to follow you, reduce interruptions, and compensate for lost non-verbal cues.
- Look into your camera to make virtual eye contact and better connect with everyone on the call.
- Use extra inflection in your voice to add emotion and impact that may be lost via the virtual connection.
- Refine your message to show what sets you apart from other candidates.
- Come prepared with personal stories that illustrate your strengths, ability to learn, and resilience.
Many of these tips apply to in-person interviews as well. However, they’re particularly important in a virtual setting when your communication skills, or lack thereof, will be exaggerated.
Prepare for Common Questions
When a job interview transitions online, you may feel thrown off balance. However, it’s important to realize that you must manage those variables that remain under your control. One such variable is your answers to questions you’ll be asked, specifically for those tough interview questions that trip up most applicants.
While you don’t want to start reading off a cheat sheet during your interview, preparing answers to those tricky questions ahead of time offers you a big edge. Even if you don’t end up getting asked the question during the interview, thinking about responses ahead of time will help you recall some valuable professional details about yourself that you should mention.
Although there are countless ways to frame interview questions that you may be asked, they typically fall under a few general categories:
- Personality assessment questions
- Behavior prediction questions
- Ability demonstration questions
- Qualification questions
- Knowledge questions
Armed with this list, brainstorm the kinds of questions you think you may be asked under each category, and then answer them. Even if your phrasing is slightly different, you’ll have the answers fresh in your mind if they come up during the interview.
Remember, Going Virtual Is New for Companies, Too
If you’re new to the world of virtual job interviews, don’t worry. This process is probably new to the company holding online interviews as well, and they have their own checklist of tips they’re trying to remember.
With the relative novelty of the whole pandemic situation, you shouldn’t expect yourself to be perfect the first time. Cut yourself some slack and do your best to prepare with the tips above. You may just find yourself preferring this interview method over the traditional in-person meeting.