How to Crush Your Virtual Job Interview


If you’re seeking employment then you know that there’s a lot of competition out there. And that’s why so many companies are developing new ways to screen their candidates. They want to cut down on costs and increase efficiency. Instead of in-person interviews, many businesses are choosing to conduct phone interviews. Not only does this save money, but it helps to save the time and energy that typically goes into traditional interviews.


In recent years, some companies have even started to conduct virtual interviews. They combine the benefits of telephone chats and face-to-face meetings. These interviews depend on applications like Skype, FaceTime, and Google so that the employer and candidate can speak as they would in person.


Though this form of interview is efficient and cost-effective, it brings about a whole new challenge–specifically for the candidates. Many people are intimidated by the process of the video interview. The good news is if you take the time to prepare you can leave a positive lasting impression. Here are a few tips for crushing your virtual job interview.


Tech Check
Even though technology seems to be advancing so quickly, it doesn’t mean that you’re keeping up with all of these changes. Even if you are it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re proficient at using the technology. This is most candidate’s number one concern when it comes to virtual interviews. They feel that their lack of tech skills will keep them from getting the job that they want.


The good news is that you don’t have to be a computer genius in order to succeed in a virtual interview. If you want to avoid becoming overwhelmed you just have to make sure that all of your equipment is functioning properly. There are two main components that you need to test out: the microphone and the webcam. The microphone will allow the interviewer to hear you and the webcam will allow them to see you (I guess that was rather obvious…). So make sure that they’re working. If not, it may be a good idea to replace them (or upgrade them). You can always ask someone to help you test them out with you.


Set Design
Just because the interview is being conducted in the comfort of your home doesn’t mean that your home should be the focus. In fact, in some cases, your background may be a distraction to the interviewer. That’s why it’s so important that you create an environment that conveys how serious you are about the job.


This means that you may have to do a bit of set designing. Position your webcam so that it doesn’t capture your unmade bed or your children’s toys. Preferably, the background should be an office setting. If you don’t have a home office, orient your webcam so that it faces a blank wall.


If you don’t have walls that feature neutral colors then consider purchasing seamless paper. This can be a great substitute. And if you want to exhibit a sense of decor add a bookshelf in the background with a few plants and books. Just make sure that it’s not too cluttered.


You should also consider your lighting. If the webcam is facing the window, it could wash out your face. So make sure that the lighting is facing you so that the interviewer is able to see you clearly. The key is to convey a sense of professionalism and to make sure that your face is the focal point.


Quiet On Set
Not only can your background serve as a distraction but so can the activity going on around you. Sure, you may be a busy mom. You may have a dog that’s always begging for your attention. You may even enjoy listening to music in the background while chatting with friends. However, none of this matters to your interviewer. These aspects can only serve as an annoyance and possibly cost you the job that you really want.


So you need to cut down on as much background noise an activity as possible. If your family will be at home at the time of your interview, let them know that you can’t be disturbed for a specific amount of time. If you have small children, consider having someone look after them for a while or give them an activity that will keep them busy and quiet. If your dog is hyperactive, give him a treat and place him in the doggy bed.


You may not always be able to control every aspect of your surroundings such as the noise of passing cars, alarms, and loud next-door neighbors. However, by getting rid of the distractions that are within your control and interviewing in a quiet environment, it shows the interviewer that you’re a professional. Another benefit is that without the distractions you’ll be able to focus on the questions you’re being asked and provide an answer that you’re proud of.


If this were a regular phone interview you could remain in your workout gear or pajamas. You wouldn’t have to do anything special with your hair. You may even decide to wear a ballcap. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the interviewer will be able to see you. And just as they would in person, it’s very likely that they’ll make judgments about you based on your appearance. So for all intents and purposes, when it comes to what you wear this should be thought of as an in-person interview.


Make sure that you put your best foot forward. Even a business causal look will denote that you’re interested in being treated as a professional. Remember to consider the colors you wear and how they will be reflected against the light. For instance, if you’re in a room that is very bright and it’s hard to control the lighting, you should avoid wearing a white shirt. White will look extremely washed out on camera and could be a distraction. The same goes for necklaces and earrings. The light may catch them and cause them to shine too brightly.


Make sure that your fingernails are well-manicured. Try to stick with neutral colors as they come across as more professional. Also, you need to make sure that your skin is not too oily as it may be too shiny for the camera.


Look at the Camera
It almost seems silly to suggest that you make eye contact with the interviewer when they aren’t even in the room. However, it’s entirely possible. You see, when video chatting with someone, a lot of people tend to look at the screen that displays the person they’re communicating with. Even worse, some people have a habit of looking at the screen that displays themselves. But if you want the person to feel as if you’re interested in what they have to say then it’s best to look at the camera.


When you look directly into the camera, from the other person’s perspective it will feel as if you’re making eye contact. And this is exactly what you want to do when it comes to your virtual job interview. You want to make eye contact so that the interviewer understands that you’re fully engaged in the conversation.


Admittedly, this isn’t always easy. It’s tempting to look down at the other screen so that you’ll be able to judge how the interviewer is receiving your answers. It’s also tempting to look down at the screen that displays yourself so that you can find out if your hair or clothes need to be adjusted. The best way to handle this is to place two stick notes on each side of the webcam so that they can help you to focus on the camera lens. Focusing on the camera instead of on the other person’s reactions may also help you to feel less anxious.


Get Rid of The Script
There’s nothing wrong with having a few notes with you. Perhaps you want to make sure that you give the proper dates of employment. Maybe you want to ensure that you don’t forget to mention your key strengths and experiences. There’s also a chance that you’ve written down a long answer to a question that you know will be asked.


However, use these notes as more of a reminder than a script. Realize that the interviewer is not interested in hearing your resume read aloud, but wants to hear your thoughts and ideas directly and spontaneously–even if you happen to have a few of them memorized. This helps to keep the interview fresh and organic. And this way, you’ll be able to show more of your personality and how you’ll fit into the organization.


Be Aware of Pacing
When answering the interviewer’s question remember that you don’t have to rush through them. You may be aware of taking up too much of their time. You may feel self-conscious about leaving room for too much silence as you think of the answer. And these things are normal. However, keep in mind that in most cases the quality of your answer is more important than the time in which you take to come up with them.


Before answering, take a moment to think about the question. Don’t rush through the answer. Don’t feel the need to fill moments of silence. This will ensure that you answer carefully and with forethought.


These pauses will also ensure that you take the transmission time into account. You see, when it comes to video chats there are often delays in the transmission. So you may get the question a second or two later than the person asks them. By taking a moment to think before your answer, you leave room for any additional things that the interviewer has to say at the end of the question. And this can eliminate the frustration that often comes with these types of delays.


Perform a Screen Test
If you want to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible it’s important that you do a test run. Your interview shouldn’t be the first time you’ve ever used Skype, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime. You need to experiment with these programs before you ever schedule an interview. This way, you’ll know how everything works.


You’ll also find out how your background looks on the camera. Perhaps your favorite interview shirt is a little more transparent on camera than you realized. Maybe your dishwasher is a little bit too audible. Perhaps the lighting is a little too dim in your office or maybe it completely washes you out. Is the level of your microphone too loud or too soft? It may be a good idea to remove those embarrassing photos from your last cruise. These are all things that you should know before you start the interview process.


To be honest, no matter how much preparation you do, it’s possible that there could be glitches. But the key is recovering from these glitches with grace. And when you practice your interview, you’ll be aware of what can be done in those unexpected moments. When glitches occur, remain calm as this can convey to the interviewer that you’re good under pressure.


Be Natural
It can be difficult to be yourself when you know that every word you’re saying can either count in your favor or completely against you. But it’s important to remember that even though this interview is occurring online and in video form, it’s no different than interacting with someone in your everyday life. So put your focus on answering the questions to the best of your ability and knowledge. And be pleasant and polite.


Very few people are thrilled to do a virtual job interview. But that doesn’t’ mean that you can’t become an expert at them. It’s all about the way in which you’re perceived. And everything you do should convey that you’re a professional who’s interested in working with the company.