Virtual interviews are now the norm in recruitment, and while they’ve involved some adjustments (and challenges) in how we interact with one another, most people would agree that they come with a lot of benefits—IF they’re done properly.
These 7 simple tips for virtual interviews will help you improve your job search skills and increase your chances of successful recruitment. A 2021 report found that 70% of staffing agencies believe virtual recruiting is now the standard, so it’s a skill worth improving.
1. Test your meeting platform before the interview.
On the day of the interview (as close to the interview as possible), do a quick test of your platform, whether it’s Zoom, Google Meet, Teams, or one of manhy other many systems out there. Yes, you might know the tool well, and yes, you might have just used it yesterday, but today is today, and a power outage or local server issue or mice eating your wiring could have happened since then, and you don’t want surprises. Create and join a fake meeting with a friend, and confirm that you’re 100% ready to go. (And if you’re not, you have time to either fix the problem, or contact the interviewer and reschedule.)
2. Light your workspace properly & set your computer at the right height.
We’ve all been in online meetings where someone is difficult to see because they’re in a dark, shadowy workspace — or they’re way up above their camera looking down at the screen (or worse, their face is partly cut off). While some of this comes down to testing the platform beforehand (see point #1), some of it is also about good lighting and positioning. Make sure you have enough light in the room, and avoid overhead lighting, as it tends to create facial shadows. Also make sure your computer is at an appropriate desk or chest height (not on your lap). These simple steps will result in a much more professional and polished look.
3. Check (and possibly adjust) your background.
Is there something in your background that might be distracting? Photographs… a pet… a shelf full of interesting book titles? Either clear the background of the distractions, or use a virtual background (and no clouds, palm trees, or movie sets — a simple empty room backdrop works best).
4. Try to look at the camera—not the screen.
It’s natural to look at the image of the person in front of you. But it’s by looking at the camera that you will actually “look them in the eye”. Some people recommend taping a small photo or image of some kind next to the camera to encourage them to focus on it.
5. Dress the part.
We have all gotten used to more casual work attire (read: track pants) in our increasingly work-from-home and remote-work world. But this is still an interview. And you have one chance to make a first impression. A good rule of thumb: Dress as if you were meeting the interviewer in person. And a general tip on dressing for the camera: Clean, solid colours work best; avoid prints and stripes. Again, you’ll project a much more professional look, and you’ll feel more confident too—which in itself is crucial to interview success.
6. Have the job posting, your resume, and any notes either printed, or open on a second screen before the interview begins.
Having all your information accessible can make the interview more comfortable for you because it eases the pressure on you and boosts your confidence: You know that all your key points are right there and easy to glance at if needed. Of course, having the necessary documents up on-screen is essential if you’re planning to share them. And a word of advice: Make sure there’s nothing on your screen that you’d rather keep private.
7. If there’s an interruption during your interview (your dog barks; your child walks in), deal with it quickly and professionally — don’t pretend it isn’t happening.
People are used to distractions during virtual meetings today; hey, life happens, and an experienced staffing agency will generally take it in stride. But you don’t want to let it continue and possibly sideswipe your hard-earned interview. So pause for a moment, excuse yourself, mute your microphone (and turn off your camera if needed), and deal with the situation. if it doesn’t seem fixable, come back to the computer, apologize again, and ask the interviewer if it’s possible to reschedule within the next day or so. Chances are the interviewer will be more than willing to accommodate your request, and will respect (and perhaps be impressed by) your prompt, decisive action.