How to prepare for an online interview?
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the planet, companies worldwide have started using ‘virtual interviews’ as a way of assessing candidates while in lockdown or with social distancing rules in place. In fact, as technology advances, it now becomes a lot more convenient and even cost-effective for employers to conduct online job interviews. Not only does it mean that the whole interview process can be sped up, it also means that employers can now interview non-local candidates without having to fly them over.
While online interviews are not a new concept, a lot of people will be taking part in their first ever virtual interview through various video conferencing platforms. It also means that job seekers must now show why they’re the correct fit for the job without ever meeting the hiring manager in person.
Bear in mind that online job interviews are essentially like in-person interviews which we’ve been used to. So, whether this is an interview in real life or an online interview, your goal is the same and therefore there are certain preparation that should be done regardless of how the interview is conducted.
With that, here are some of our top tips for an online interview based on the thousands of virtual interviews Progressive Recruitment and our clients have conducted in recent years. This will include tips that may also be applicable for in-person interviews.
1. Always prepare for the interview
It’s crucial to prepare and be ready to show that you’re the best fit for the job. You might want to have your resume on hand to run through your experience with your interviewer.
Research the company, get yourself familiar with what their main business is, what their business focus is like, what their company culture seems to be and what their vision or purpose is. Most if not all of these can be found on their website.
Practice your answers for potential interview questions. For example, why should they employ you, why do you want to work for them, what is your biggest achievement in your career, what were some major challenges and how did you overcome those, how can you add value to the company, etc. This will be your opportunity to showcase your capabilities and why you may be a good fit for the role.
Part of your preparation should also include some potential questions for the interviewer. If you need some help on this, you may refer to this article on best questions to ask in an interview.
One advantage of sitting at your private computer rather than an in-person interview with the hiring manager is the ability to have notes and any relevant documents needed for referencing throughout the interview. Instead of memorising your answers, you can now have the advantage of referring to them during the interview.
Lastly, although this may seem like an obvious one, you want to get the details of the interview. Which online platform will this be on? Will this be a video or audio call? How long will the interview last? How many people are on this interview? All of these can help you mentally prepare yourself.
2. Make sure you leave enough time in your diary in case the interview runs over
The hiring manager will usually give a clear timeframe for when the interview will take place but sometimes interviews can last longer than anticipated.
Plan enough time for the original slot and give yourself a time buffer for before and after the interview. By doing that, you’ll be able to carry out last minute preparations before the interview while having flexibility in the event that the interview over-runs.
3. Find a quiet place with no distractions, where possible.
Loud noises and other people in the background can negatively influence the quality of an interview, particularly when it’s being done virtually. If you can, make sure you set-up in a room that allows you to hear the interview questions clearly and to answer without distractions. A cluttered workspace, dirty laundry, or noisy environment can look unprofessional and certainly isn’t the kind of impression you want to leave behind.
With many of us now working from home, especially those with young kids or other family members, it can be difficult to find a quiet place to conduct an interview. So you might need to set this space up before the interview. Otherwise, speak to the interviewer ahead of the interview and let them know your situation, if you know there may be interruptions.
4. Test your technology
Familiarise yourself with the hardware, equipment and interview platform you will be using prior to the job interview. You want to schedule a test call and make sure that your internet connection, microphone, speakers and video is working properly. This will allow you to see yourself, have a mock interview, as well as remind yourself to look directly into the camera. If you can record it, you may even watch it to see your body language and be more mindful about it. The more you practice, the more confident you will be on the actual call. Practice makes perfect!
You want to ensure your laptop is being charged and your lighting is bright enough. You should choose a professional looking virtual background if needed so that your background looks neat and less likely to distract your interviewer.
You might want to have a back-up plan ready just in case technology fails you on the day of the interview.
5. Dress professionally
Dress in the same way you would in a face-to-face interview. Unless specifically mentioned, wear a professional attire such as a shirt or blouse. Your outfit will communicate your level of professionalism with the employer so dress in a clean and conservative manner.
6. Prepare yourself mentally
Take a few minutes before the interview to gather your thoughts and be clear in how you are going to approach the interview. Think about how you’ll answer potential questions, based on your interview preparation, and consider what you want to know about your prospective employer.
Logging on earlier will also give you the chance to make sure everything is working as it should.
7. Relax and don’t be afraid to show off your personality
The more relaxed you are, the better you’ll perform during the interview. It’s important to show you can fit in as part of a team, so, during the interview, smile, engage and if you’re brave enough you could even crack a joke.
You may also want to take a second to pause when responding to questions from the interviewer. Don’t end up talking over the interviewer, which can be a common mistake for online job interviews. You also want to make sure you’re answering the question correctly so ask if you didn’t hear the question properly.
It is always good to send a thank you note right after your interview to your hiring managers. This makes them feel that you are not only proactive but keen on the role, which can be an added advantage.
If the hiring process is taking longer than it should, be patient. But this does not mean that you cannot follow-up to express your interest in the role. Likewise, this will only make you seem like a proactive candidate.
How prepared you are for an online job interview will determine how confident you can be during the interview. And good online interview skills can make a difference. If you have successfully presented yourself to the interviewers, and if you had your questions answered during the interview, you’ve done everything you could!
We hope that you found this useful and are now more prepared for an online job interview. If you have any further questions or concerns especially around online interviews, feel free to get in touch with us via the form below. We are here to help!
Alternatively, if you wish to apply for any of our latest jobs, do visit our job search page.