Think about most of the interviews in your life…abnormally dressed up, anxious about where to park, printed resume in hand, and no clue about what you are walking into.
- Is the interview going to be technical?
- Will there be one manager running the interview or a panel of people?
- Is the manager the quiet type, kinda hard to read?
- Is the first step with HR and therefore you should expect general questions, more so than deep technical quizzing?
Now tack on the additional variable of the interview being virtual, which lends itself to a whole myriad of other things that could go wrong.
- Bad Connectivity
- Poor Sound Quality
- Internet Drops
- Creating a personal connection with the interviewer through a computer
Just to name a few.
Preparation Is Key
There are many tips and tricks available online on how to nail your interview. There are many blog posts that will tell you to role-play different scenarios, or practice verbalizing your answers to mock questions (versus simply saying them in your head). But this post isn’t about any of that. Instead, we are going to discuss some particular tips and advice specific to preparing for a virtual interview.
Appearance Still Matters
No, you are not walking into their building for your interview. Instead, you are inviting each other into your personal space. The interviewer may conduct the meeting in their office where you will see bits of “them” and what they are like as a person and professional.
You are also welcoming them into your personal space. Be mindful of what you are sharing and how to show off the very best of you. Many of us do not have fancy home offices and are having these interviews in our living rooms, bedrooms, or on the kitchen table! There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, if done correctly, it can really showcase certain sides of you they may not ever learn about that could tip the scale in your favor.
For instance, show that you keep a clean “workspace.” Tidy up, pick up your laundry, make your bed, put the dishes away. Reduce distractions that could make it difficult for them to focus and hear what you are saying. While we all love The Goonies, maybe keep that movie poster out of the camera’s line of sight.
Your appearance matters too. While we all are adapting to virtual interviews and remote work, we need to maintain a level of professionalism. If nothing else, being more professional than other interviewees could set you apart! Style your hair, dress professionally (maybe not your “Sunday best” but close), and remember first impressions really do matter.
Getting The Right Camera Angle
We get it. You aren’t an Insta model or an aspiring videographer. However, you need to consider how you are being viewed. Just like The Goonies movie poster, you don’t want your interviewer to be thinking about how they can see right up your nose, which is exactly the angle laptop cameras point!
Using your laptop camera is absolutely fine. Simply try propping your computer up a little higher. If you are wondering how you look, turn on your computer’s camera and see for yourself. Prop it up on some books or even that discarded Amazon delivery box. Once the camera is level with you, you are golden!
Test Your Internet Connectivity
Nothing will ruin the vibe of a smooth interview conversation more than technical issues. Not being able to see or hear each other properly is frustrating for all. Also, don’t turn your camera off. A video interview was scheduled, not a phone interview. They want and need to see you during your interview. There are many non-verbal cues and habits you both need to be aware of.
If you don’t have great internet at your place, you have a few options. First, you could try making sure anything else that uses your internet is turned off or disabled so all the bandwidth is going to your computer. If that doesn’t work, you could consider being somewhere else for the interview that has a stronger connection. However, don’t make the mistake of going to a coffee shop or noisy cafe. Remember, you are trying to reduce distractions, not add to them.
It’s Not You, It’s Me!
This one may surprise you.
It can be difficult to break into some industries. There are many tactics to try and sometimes it can be deflating. You know you’d be great, or someone you know personally who would be great, but landing an interview just isn’t happening.
With that being said, do not try the “bait & switch” tactic. Curious what I mean? Well, there have been times where a candidate who applies for a position ends up not being the one who shows up for the interview. Crazy, right?!? Unfortunately, it happens. So when your recruiter is hammering you on video quality, know that there are people out there doing this and it is our job to make sure we deliver the right person to the interview.
Fun fact…the “bait & switch” tactic never works…so please, don’t “try this at home”.