Tips and Tricks for online interviews

Emma Seton·19 August 2020·6 min read
Tips and Tricks for online interviews

As many recent graduates begin to enter the job market, many individuals may find themselves facing the dauting prospect of an online interview. Due to the COVID_19 restrictions, and the surge of online video technologies, such as Zoom, many companies have developed their recruitment process to accommodate the global shift, opting for their initial recruitment to take place online. Although online interviews have the same fundamental aim as face-to-face interviews, there are some additional considerations that the interviewee may need to address during their preparation.

Test your technology:

Before you begin your interview your potential employer will have notified you of the specific technology they wish to use to conduct the interview. This may be Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype or another software. If you’re not completely familiar with the technology your employer has chosen, make sure you do a test run first. Install it onto your computer and ask a family member or your flat mate to call you on the technology so you can be sure what to expect, if you are planning to do something like screensharing, be sure you are completely confident in how to do this. Be sure to test your internet and audio connection to ensure that the quality is sufficient. It may also be useful to install this technology on a second device, such as your mobile phone, in case you have any technical malfunctions on the day of the interview. This will avoid you getting flustered right before the interview, and should your laptop malfunction, you can transfer to using your phone with ease. It is also useful to confer with the interviewer about what you will do in the case of a technological failure, perhaps you may agree to transfer the interview to be conducted via a phone call or arrange another time when the interview could go ahead. Technical issues are part of every-day life, and of course, while it is best to fix them, your employer will understand that this is out of your control.

Choose your location:

Choose your background carefully, you might want to consider a place with a neutral background and natural lighting. After all, you don’t want your potential employer getting distracted by looking around your untidy bedroom. Often natural lighting gives the best camera quality, this avoids creating a glare on the screen, consider setting up facing a window, to optimise on the natural lighting, but make sure the window isn’t behind you; you may appear dark on screen. If you can’t access any natural light, try to use other lights to give the best possible effect, if your room light is quite dim then try to use a table lamp to project light onto you. Don’t use virtual backgrounds, as these don’t always look professional. Consider going somewhere neutral, even move your desk if you must.

Be professional:

Treat it as similar as you can to a face-to-face interview. Eliminate all distractions, turn your phone off, mute your emails and make sure that no one will interrupt you. It might be useful to avoid having your interview in a communal area, to ensure that none of your flatmates will walk past. Make sure that your pets aren’t going to walk across the screen, and that you can give your full attention to your potential employer. Make sure that you’ve dressed professionally, just because you’re at home doesn’t mean that your professionalism can slip. Dress for the role, dressing well also has a psychological effect that will convince your brain that you’re in a serious environment. First impressions last, whether they’re conceived in person or over a video.

Don’t forget to prepare:

Preparation is key. Even though online interviews will perhaps feel less formal than face-to-face interviews, it is just as important to know your facts and be prepared. Make sure you know the specifics of the company, why you want to work for them and what experience you have that makes you a viable candidate. Furthermore, make sure you know what’s on your CV and cover letter, inconsistencies between your CV and what you say during an interview is an easy mistake that can make you look disorganised.

Practise as much as you can, maybe even do a mock interview with your housemate. Become familiar with the type of questions that you’re going to be asked, and practise answering on the spot. It is also useful to prepare some questions to ask at the end of the interview, to engage with your interviewer and show your interest. After the interview, send a follow-up email to thank the interviewer for their time.

Make sure you know the format of the interview:

Do your research so you know what to expect. Will it be a live interview, or will the questions be pre-recorded? If you answer the pre-recorded questions via a video, do you get multiple attempts? Make sure you’ve figured out the exact format to avoid any unnecessary embarrassment.

Any type of interview can be daunting and will take you out of your comfort zone. Recent graduates who have an online interview coming up should consider these additional tips to help the interview go smoothly. Complications do happen, and technology can always fail us, but these tips help to prevent any drawbacks. Preparation is key and good luck to all those who have an interview coming up!

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