While companies continue to innovate ways to manage their businesses during the pandemic, they have also had to pivot on how they interview candidates and the recruiting process as a whole. Many events continue to be postponed and cancelled altogether, making it harder for students and companies to interact. Fortunately, companies have moved to virtual events, allowing students opportunities to learn more about them, and to ask questions from multiple individuals from the organization. This has led to interviews, especially at the campus level, occurring virtually. While virtual interviews may provide some challenges, many of these can be overcome, and you can still stand out to the company and interviewer (or interviewers). Below are some tips to consider when preparing for your virtual interview:
· Turn the camera on – It will likely be expected for you to be on camera during the interview. Have your camera on when starting the interview. Test the camera and the location before and ensure that the lighting doesn’t cast a shadow on yourself so the interviewer can easily see you. If this just isn’t possible or an option for you, ask the company up front if a phone call is an option.
· Test your technology – Ensure your internet access is good and allows for good video quality and the tool needed for the interview (Zoom, WebEx, Teams, etc.) is installed and operating effectively. If you are having trouble, don’t hesitate to reach out to the company interviewing you. They can likely help with the tool and help you think through locations that will work to ensure you have no bandwidth issues during the interview. Your campus may also have options.
· Be early – Don’t show up late to a virtual interview, ever. In fact, you should be at least five minutes early, if not more. This ensures you also have time for any last-minute technology issues. There almost always is an issue, so plan on it ahead of time to ensure you are there and ready when the interviewer logs on.
· Dress for the job – When interviews were occurring in the office, candidates would dress for the job, if not above (some jobs require business casual, but candidates might wear a suit, and other jobs might have a casual dress code, but candidates might wear something more formal). Even though your interview might be virtual, you should still wear the attire you would be expected to wear when performing the duties of the job if not “dressing to impress.” While you won’t solely be judged on your attire, it will show the interviewer you are excited for the opportunity.
· Eye contact – Remember that your camera likely isn’t where your eyes want to go to, which is looking at the person on the screen you are talking to. If possible, when talking look directly in your camera to show you are engaged. This shows the interviewer you are not distracted. If that is just too awkward or hard for you, it’s more important to keep your eyes on the screen in general, even if not directly at the camera. If you are constantly glancing at another monitor or around the room the interviewer may become disengaged or believe you are not interested in the position.
· Bonus tip – This tip may not apply to the virtual interview but should help you as you prepare regardless! Always come with questions to your interview. Most interviewers will at some point ask you if you have any questions and saying “no” or “I’ve asked everything I can think of in prior discussions” can give the perception that you aren’t interested in the position. Even if you’ve spoken to other individuals at the company, you can ask the same question. The interviewer doesn’t know what you know, and you may be surprised at different perspectives you get from different individuals answering the same question. It may also reveal consistency or issues with the organization. Remember, you are interviewing them too!
Many of these items may appear to be self-explanatory, but unfortunately these mistakes are happening all too frequently in today’s “virtual interview” world. Everyone is a bit more forgiving in this environment (it’s just not always possible to keep your dog from barking or to keep a toddler from walking in your room!) but taking these steps will show those you are interviewing with that you are prepared and ensure you have a seamless interview. The care and attention you can put into a successful virtual interview will no doubt pay dividends for you leading to that offer!