For the most part the preparation is the same, however considering a few “extras” could be the thing that puts you ahead of your fellow candidates!
Some of these may seem simple, but it’s easy to forget interview formalities when you’re in the comfort of your own home! Have a read to see some easy steps you can take to ensure you give it your best shot!
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Just as you would have to for an in-person interview, it is essential that you come prepared: do your research on the company as well as the role, think of some possible questions that may come up so that you can plan your answers, and think of all the experience you have that makes you a perfect fit for the role! Think about why you want the role, why you’d fit in at the company, and how your values align with theirs.
There’s no place like home
When you go to an in-person interview, the setting is out of your control, but in a virtual interview you decide! And this can make a big difference to the impression you make to your interviewer. Test out a few places in your house. Try your laptop camera with different levels of lighting and different angles to see what comes out the best and the clearest. It will be important to consider that there may be glare or a bad reflection, so you may need to experiment with the lighting, as well as the height and/or tilt of the device. A key factor in deciding on the setting for your interview is the strength behind the wi-fi signal, so take this into account when planning your setting!
Use notes sparingly
One benefit of a virtual interview is that the interviewer cannot see everything on your desk or screen, which means you can come prepared with some notes that you can use for reference. However, there is a danger here that you can rely too heavily on these notes and end up being less natural in the interview. Part of the interview is to see how well you interact and to get a feel for your personality to see if you’re a good match for the company, but if you are simply reading notes off a screen, you may come across as less warm, and a little robotic or unnatural.
So, do prepare some notes if this will be of comfort to you; you may find it useful if you have some key figures or statistics you would like to bring up, but try to only occasionally glance at your notes, and do not rely too heavily on them.
Try not to be late for this very important date
It is bad practice to turn up late to an interview, whether it’s virtual or in person, so ensure you have planned plenty of time. With virtual interviews, you rely on technology, so you need to remember to factor in some extra time in case of any technological malfunctions.
You’re prepared but are you charged up?
Check your laptop is fully charged, and the power lead switched on, if you’re using another device ensure it is fully charged. The opposite of a good impression is your laptop, or electronic device dying mid-interview.
Dress to impress
We’ve all joked about wearing jogging bottoms for the waist down, jokes aside some of us have actually done it! But please avoid anything but smart / casual during your interview, even if it is online.
You may think that because your interview is not in person, you do not have to make the same effort with your appearance. But the interviewer will still be expecting you to look professional and, as your appearance is the first thing they will notice, it won’t hurt to dress just as you would for a regular interview!
Stay engaged, and make eye contact with the camera
This is a difficult one but can really help give a personable feel to your audience! It is easier to become distracted when interviewing from your own home, but if your eyes keep wondering to other things in the room, your interviewer will assume you are not very interested, or focused on the interview. Try, as much as possible, to keep your eyes on the screen, preferably the camera, and be aware of what you are doing with your face: be sure to remain looking engaged, and never bored, as this will show that you are interested.
Wearing headphones will reduce the noise you hear around you, and will provide you with clear audio, giving you great opportunity to stay engaged!
Just the same as for an in-person interview, at some point the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. The best way to show your interest in the role, is by asking questions: ask about the role, the company, the culture, potential progression, or anything else that you’d like to know about. Try to prepare two or three questions, although you may find yourself asking different ones that arise during the interview.
Last, but not least: A final tip
It may be good to do a trial run with a friend, especially if you are going to be using a software that you haven’t used before, and in this trial, you can try and find the best place in your house for lighting and internet connection. You can practise keeping eye contact with the camera, muting and unmuting yourself, sharing your screen etc, and your friend may be able to give you some tips for how to come across better.
24 Hours Before Check List:
- Check the Wi-Fi signal in your chosen room
- Check you have downloaded and can access the software your interviewer is using e.g., Teams, Zoom, Google Meet
- Test the link
- Do a run through with a friend or family member, run through practice questions
- Plan your outfit and try it on
- Review your CV, cover sheet, or any other information you have to hand that might be necessary to showcase your key skills and desirable attributes
On the Day Check List:
- Check the device you’ll be using for the interview is fully charged
- Check that the setting you’re wanting to use as your interview room is ready
- Set your mobile phone to quiet or do not disturb for the duration of the interview, if possible leave it in a different room
- Be ready to smile and have fun!