As the pandemic continues to spread across the country, economies around the world continue to falter. Few industries remain untouched. Businesses have started to fall back on technology in order to stay afloat amidst these uncertain times. Working from home is now the new normal.
While some companies have decided to lay off or furlough employees, others have ramped up their recruitment efforts in order to keep the business running. But with the sheltering in place order and social distancing policy, conducting interviews with potential employees requires a move towards a less personal approach - video conferencing.
Online job interviews are not something new. In fact, remote hiring has become increasingly popular over the years. Of course, that doesn't mean that people today are well-versed in the art of the online interview. Most people are used to being interviewed in person, so switching to a virtual one can be intimidating. Below are several tips to help you convey your qualifications and land you that job.
Prepare Your Environment
Test your tech
For your interview to be successful, you need to be seen and heard by the recruiter. That means your technology should be working properly. Your internet connection should be fast enough that your video doesn't get choppy, and the audio doesn't echo or cut out.
Make sure that both your mic and your webcam are working properly. Test them out prior to the interview to see if there are any problems. Make sure to also test the application or platform that you'll be using, whether it's Zoom, Skype, or WebEx.
Check your environment
What room will you be using to take the call? Look around you. Are there any distracting items in view of the camera? Are there any items that will distract you that are out of the view of the camera? Remove any clutter in the area. Your environment should match how you want to portray yourself.
This is a formal interview. Not a cozy personal call at night. Make sure that the room is bright to eliminate any harsh shadows. Avoid sitting directly under the light, so you don't get the "raccoon eyes" effect. Also, avoid backlighting as it can create a "halo" effect that can be off-putting. Use natural light as much as possible.
In addition, make sure that the camera is at your eye level when you're sitting down. Don't sit too close to the camera. Put some space, around a meter or so, between you to prevent your face from taking up the entire screen.
If you live with someone or have kids, make sure that they understand that they cannot make any disruptions during your interview. If you have pets, make sure that they cannot enter the room while you're on the call.
Dress for Success
Dress smart. Don't mistake a remote interview as a chance to be casual/informal. It's still a job interview, which means you have to look professional even though it's being conducted online. Below are some tips to help you dress for the job you want to land.
What to wear on top
Get rid of the comfy pajamas or your favorite T. Choose clothes that fit the company's culture. When you dress up for your interview, you're presenting a professional demeanor, and it can help you feel more professional.
For guys, this means wearing a type of men's shirt that falls under business or business casual. This could be a dress shirt with a suit jacket and tie, or it could be a sweater and a button-down shirt if the company's dress policy is more business casual. For women, a nice top like a blouse with a blazer would do. Don't be afraid to wear some color, just nothing too flashy or bright that will distract your interviewer. Avoid stripes or busy patterns as well.
What to wear below
Some people have joked about wearing something professional on top while wearing pajamas below. There are some who forego the pants altogether, thinking that nobody would know the difference.
Unfortunately for one reporter, his decision to wear no pants on his video call with Good Morning America got caught on camera. Don't let the same happen to you. Make sure to dress up entirely; that means top AND bottom. By that, we mean pants and men's dress belts, or a skirt. Besides, getting fully dressed can put you in the right frame of mind for your interview.
Do you need shoes?
Yes, you should. Dress as you would for an in-person interview, which means shoes and all. It might seem strange as you're inside your home, but again, it has a psychological effect on you, helping you remain professional even in the comfort of your own home.
Do Your Research
Double-check the time zone
This isn't an issue if you're interviewing for a job in the city you live in, or even in the same state. But an employer in Boston might forget that there's a time difference in Houston when the interview was first set up. You definitely don't want to be hours late for a job interview. It does not create a good impression.
Prepare your questions and answers
Show your interest in the company by learning all you can about it, including the role you're applying for. Recruiters love it when you engage with them by asking the right questions. It implies not only interest but also that you're a professional.
Aside from preparing your questions, you also need to prepare your answers to questions they may ask, such as your previous experience, industry trends, possibly even about the current coronavirus situation and how you've adapted to it. Think about what you can bring to the company. What are the values that you share? Why are you the perfect fit?
Don't forget to create a cheat sheet of your questions and answers. It's easy to forget all that information, especially when you're nervous and trying to make a good impression. You don't need to show it to the recruiter. Put it on your screen or on the wall behind your camera. You don't need to read from it; you just need the notes as a reminder or source of inspiration during the interview.
Moreover, don't forget to practice your questions and answers. It helps boost your confidence, which will show in your tone. It also helps prevent awkward pauses, stammering, and nervous tics from showing.
Be Professional and Personable
It's hard to be energetic and enthusiastic these days after being cooped up in your home for so long, but you need to make an effort. Maintain eye contact. Engage with a smile. Demonstrate that you are enthusiastic about the opportunity. Seeing you tired and unexcited about working with them will give recruiters a negative opinion of you. To get your blood pumping, do some jumping jacks half an hour before the interview. It'll give you a boost of energy and liveliness with enough time to make yourself look presentable.
Maintaining proper etiquette is also key. Your resume might have made them take a second look at you. But how you respond and listen during your interview can help them decide whether you'll fit well with the team and company culture. Don't interrupt them while they're speaking. To make up for a possible lag, wait a few seconds before responding. A pause is better than an interruption.
After the call, don't forget to send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer for their time. Be brief but friendly. Restate your interest in the role and add any qualifications you may have forgotten to relay during your interview.
It's all the same
A job interview is a job interview, whether it's done in-person or online. You need to look professional, act professional, and make a good first impression. You still need to do some research and preparation to improve your chances of landing the job.
Possibly the only difference between the two is the fact that you don't need to rush through traffic or use public transportation to get where you need to go, and that's a good thing. Don't sweat it. Even if you do, a change of clothes is just a few feet away from you. You've got this.
About the Author: Mariam Simmons is a trend setter at Alpine Swiss and business fashion enthusiast with a love for writing. She loves traveling to the world’s top stylish destinations and gets inspired to create helpful business fashion and lifestyle guides.