The Do's and Don’ts of Virtual Job Interviews
A recent survey has revealed that 6 in 10 companies(!) in the US conduct virtual job interviews. A virtual job interview is essentially the same as a regular job interview, however the interview is now held over video chat. Through virtual job interviews, companies save time and money and this is why the number of firms conducting such interviews is expected to keep rising in the upcoming years. So, we thought it would be useful to share some do's and don’ts for these type of job interviews.
In a recently conducted virtual job interview for a new CEO candidate, managing director Mr. Delattre spotted a woman dressed in black in the background of the candidate’s video. Delattre simply asked the candidate ‘Who is that behind you over there?’, as the woman appeared mid-interview.
It was a very awkward moment in the interview, however, a very useful one. "If he had yelled at her to leave the room immediately, I would have said, 'Thanks a lot, we'll be in touch,'" says Mr. Delattre (The Wall Street Journal, 2011). However, the candidate remained professional and simply asked his housekeeper if she could come back at a more convenient time.
Virtual job interviews can sometimes reveal some additional valuable information for recruiters. So, make sure to pay attention to the following dos and land your next job, just like the CEO candidate did in the previous example!
First and foremost, make sure that you have a working internet connection and the right software readily available on your laptop. It might be redundant to mention, but it is useful to start with the basics. It is important to make sure that you have a well working WiFi connection in your house - or any other quiet location for that matter - and that this connection is strong enough for video chatting purposes. Also, if the company has specifically mentioned certain software make sure you have these downloaded and ready to use. Skype is still known to be the main video chatting application used for this purpose. However, there are many similar platforms for virtual interviews on the market, so make sure to ask the firm’s recruiter this question.
Moreover, it is very important that your laptop has a working webcam and audio-recording device. These days, almost all laptops are equipped with webcams and proper audio and sound systems so there is no need to stress. However, if you have an older laptop, test these devices first. Try Skyping one of your friends to test whether your webcam and audio recording devices are working correctly. If there are issues, try to fix these or let the recruiter know in advance, so that you can think of a solution together.
Location, location, location
We slightly touched upon this in the previous section, it will benefit you to conduct the job interview somewhere quiet. You can think of, for example, the comfort of your own home, a friend’s or family member’s place, an internet café, or a nearby coffee shop. The most important things to pay attention to are your background, lighting and sound. The setting you are in should allow you to have a nice and professional interview. Moreover, a white plain background is preferred, however, not a must. Think about it this way, you are in charge of picking the location. Make sure that the location you choose reflects your level of professionalism. So, if you decide to conduct the interview behind your desk at home, make sure that your workspace is tidy and professional.
Get The Final Touches Right
One thing we strongly advise you to do is to have your documents ready! Make sure you create an easily accessible folder beforehand with your resume, cover letter and any other supporting documents. This way, you can easily use them as reference when needed.
It has certainly happened that candidates are not fully aware of the do's and don’ts of virtual job interviews. The most important thing is to conduct yourself like you would in a regular job interview. However, some people completely forget that recruiters can see their every move, even on the webcam. To illustrate, a prospective candidate short-listed for a managerial positon appeared to be reading her answers straight from a document open on her laptop during her virtual interview. This changed the firm’s perception of her completely, which led to her eventually not landing the job.
We obviously don’t want this to happen to any of you, and that is why we like to touch upon goof-ups made. Remember these previous experiences with virtual job interviews, and make sure to learn from these mistakes so that everything will work out in your favor.
Whatever Happens, Happens
At the end of the day, don’t forget that we are dealing with technology and that technical difficulties are part of the package. Really, don’t worry. We strongly advise against panicking when glitches occur. Recruiters have said not to mind when technical difficulties happen. However, they do pay close attention to how you handle the situation. Are you able to stay cool under pressure? This can be a serious deal maker or breaker during a virtual interview, so make sure to stay calm and handle the situation professionally.
Stay in Touch
Another thing to avoid is forgetting to look in the webcam. Recruiters are well aware that eye contact is slightly tricky via video chat, which makes it hard to feel connected during the interview. However, do make sure to keep looking directly at the webcam and at the recruiter. Recruiters will observe you and pay attention to body language, just like in a real interview, so make sure to keep connected with your recruiter. For most managers conducting virtual interviews, though, there is also still a lot to learn. It has happened during such an interview that a manager muted a candidate to answer a phone call because he simply forgot that the candidate could still see him. So, don’t worry if it feels unnatural or if something happens during the interview, just make sure that you politely try to keep eye contact with your recruiter.
Wear The Pants
Finally, don’t forget to wear pants… This might sound like a very strange tip, but Bloomberg has reported that interviewees have increasingly failed to dress up from the belt down. Just dress up professionally from top to bottom, do us that favor. Imagine spilling coffee over your ‘bare’ thighs and jumping up in agony only to have your recruiter look at you in total disappointment. Avoid awkward situations like this and just wear pants, trust us.
Now that you noted down these do's and don’ts, you should be ready to ace your virtual job interview. Use this opportunity to your advantage and show that you are perfectly capable of handling anything that might happen!