Today, as in-person interviewing has had to cease or slow due to restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of professionals are now needing to learn how to effectively interview in a new way using online platforms, such as Zoom, GoToMeeting and others. According to an April 2020 Gartner survey, 86% of organizations are using new virtual technology to interview candidates at this time.
As a career coach, I’ve been asked by numerous clients in the past months the question, “What should I do to ensure I’m coming across in the best way in the interview now that’s its virtual?” What to I need to do differently?
Here are 10 helpful tips for making the best impression you can in your video interview, and demonstrating that you’re a great fit for the role.
Be conscious of what’s in the view
While so many of us are now working remotely and using Zoom or other platforms for our meetings, we’ve grown more accustomed to seeing people in their home settings, and noticing their home décor, pets, family members, and other aspects of their personal life in the background.
For an interview, it’s fine to be in your home or living room but try to present whatever people see as neutral and professional as possible. You want to let yourself and your words, conversation and experience speak most powerfully about your qualifications and suitability for the job. And you want to avoid the chance that your interviewer will be distracted by what’s behind you, or perhaps have a negative reaction to any personal items (such as a plate of food behind you or a messy room) in your home.
Show your real background (if it’s suitable)
Many people today use virtual backgrounds in their meetings (photos that they’ve selected to appear in the background) but for an interview, I suggest going the more authentic route, showing the actual room where you’re speaking from, if it’s suitable. Often, virtual backgrounds create more distraction and a sense of artificiality than is effective for an interview.
Select professional attire
Even though you’re conducting the interview from your home, remember you are being judged and assessed for your fit for the role, so dress professionally, just as you would if you were meeting in person.
Ready your sound and video equipment
Make sure that you have working Wi-Fi, a strong connection, and a quality headset or microphone so there are no tech issues during your call. Invest in quality equipment for audio and video work.
Also, test audio and video prior to the call, and if the interviewer is using a platform that you haven’t used before, make sure to download the app in advance and give it a test run before the interview. Arrive early to the video meeting, and ensure the camera is at a proper angle, featuring your face and shoulders.
Demonstrate positive body language and behavior
Just as in an in-person interview, you want to demonstrate through your voice and body language that you’re interested, engaged, and professional in demeanor and language. Make sure you are not distracted (with your pet, or by loud sounds or interruptions in your home, etc.). If you know there will be significant interruptions or distractions during the scheduled time for the interview, see if you can change it to a time when those interruptions are at minimum.
Engage the interviewer with eye contact and connection
Make sure you smile, come across as engaging and interested, and make strong eye contact. Try not to look away during your interview or look down at your notes too frequently. Your eye contact reveals a good deal about how you’re feeling and thinking about what the interviewer is sharing with you.
As with every interview, prepare, prepare, prepare
Be fully prepared for your interview. Do your research in advance, understand clearly from what the hiring manager has shared in advance what they’re looking for in the role and be ready to talk about why you’re potentially very well suited to it. Have in front of you some written sound bites and bullet points that speak to how you can leverage your great talents and abilities and hit the ground running successfully in this job.
Know the “20 facts of you”
In my new book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss, I share the importance of overcoming a key power gap of Communicating From Fear, Not Strength (one of the 7 most damaging power gaps professional women face today). One way to close this gap and speak more confidently is learning how to clearly articulate the 20 “facts of you”—the most exciting and compelling achievements you’ve made in your career and how they moved the needled at your organization or in your role. This takes time and effort, but once you’ve identified those important and rewarding accomplishments and can learn to speak about them with energy, authority and excitement, your confidence will rise significantly.
Practice with a friend or coaching buddy
If you’re a novice at online meetings or interviewing, practice and practice some more. Have a friend or coaching buddy role-play the interview and record your online meeting. Have them ask some tough questions that many interviewers will ask and get very clear and comfortable with how you’ll answer these questions.
Be clear too on what you should avoid asking in the interview. Then watch the recording of your mock interviews, and identify where you need to improve in your online delivery. And ask your coaching buddy for their candid feedback, too.
Finally, remember that you’re talented, experienced and have so much value to offer and that the interview is a two-way street
Don’t lose sight of the fact that you have a great deal to offer and so much experience and talent to leverage to be of service in important ways. Make sure too that you understand this is a two-way street and you are interviewing the hiring manager about the role and the organization just as much as they are interviewing you. Have your list of questions that you want to make sure you cover so that you will get a strong sense of this role, the work, and if you would truly be a fit, both emotionally and functionally.
Do what’s necessary to bring your highest and best self forward, and present yourself in the most polished, effective and confident way possible so that your accomplishments and desirability as a candidate can shine through.
But understand too that your values, interests, needs and goals are also critical. Get the information you need to accurately assess if this is the right next step for your career and your life.
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