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Interviewing

Online Job Interview Tips and Suggestions

February 4, 2020

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As technology develops, it is becoming more convenient and cost-effective for employers to conduct job interviews online. Virtual interviews reduce transportation costs, speed up the interviewing process and allow hiring managers to interview non-local candidates. If you are searching for a job, you might be required to participate in an online interview. In this article, we discuss what an online interview is and how to ace it.

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What is an online interview?

An online interview is an interview conducted through an online chat video/audio platform.

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Types of online interviews

Employers can conduct online interviews using different methods. Before your appointment, make sure to ask your interviewer what kind of interview to expect. This includes finding out if the call will include audio, video or both. Additionally, make sure you know what time zone the interview will be calling from.

Video calls

The most common type of online interview is a video call. When setting up a video call, the interviewer will typically contact you and ask if you have access to the necessary equipment. Most laptops have built-in cameras and microphones, so you should be able to find a computer that meets the requirements. The interviewer will schedule a specific time in which they will call using a program like Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts.

During a video call, the interviewer will be able to converse with you like they would during an in-person interview. If you are familiar with webcam technology, a video call should be fairly simple for you to set up and navigate. The key to a successful video call is preparing thoroughly ahead of time.

Read more: Video Interview Guide: Tips for a Successful Interview

Recorded video

Another method for online interviews involves you recording a video of yourself answering interview questions. To prepare for this type of interview, the interviewer will send you a list of questions and a deadline. You will need to set up a camera and film yourself while you answer each question on the list. After you have finished, you will need to upload the video and send it back to the interviewer.

This type of interview allows you to carefully prepare your answers in advance, but it can also be awkward if you are not used to talking to a camera. As with video calls, the most important thing you can do is set aside time to prepare and practice.

Related: 21 Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

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How to prepare for your online interview

Preparation is a critical element for any interview. Consider following these steps in order to prepare effectively for your online interview:

  • Test the technology. Familiarize yourself with the necessary equipment and software. Before your interview appointment, schedule a test call with a friend or family member. Make sure that your microphone and speakers are working and that your internet connection supports high-quality live video. Also, check and make sure you are using a professional screen name that will be easy for the interviewer to recognize.
  • Practice, practice, practice. After you have tested the equipment, you will need to practice your interviewing technique. Task someone you know with asking you practice interview questions over a video call. Be aware of your computer's tendency to lag and make sure you do not talk over the other person. Practice listening carefully and speaking slowly and clearly. The more you practice, the more confident you will be during the actual call.
  • Choose your location. Well before the scheduled interview time, you will need to select a location for your interview. Find a quiet room with minimal background noise and no distractions. Make sure you have adequate lighting (preferably natural) and that there is nothing distracting behind you. Make sure your housemates know not to disturb you and shut any pets out of the room. A professional backdrop will show the interviewer that you are serious about the interview and the job.
  • Gather your materials. Find a notebook and pen and set them within reach of your computer. Consider printing out a copy of your resume that you can consult during the interview. You might also want to make a list of questions or talking points that you would like to bring up in the interview. These tools can all be helpful, but make sure they do not divert your attention too often during the interview.
  • Prepare your own questions. In addition to preparing answers to some common interview questions, it is also advised that you prepare several questions of your own. Ask the interviewer about job requirements, the benefits and salary or what they think of the company. Any questions that allow the interviewer to share additional information about what they expect from the ideal candidate will help you in the next stage of interviewing.

Related: How to Introduce Yourself in an Interview

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Tips for acing your online interview

When the time comes for your online interview, you will want to conduct yourself professionally and make a good impression. Here are our tips for how to ace your online interview:

  • Dress professionally.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Consider your body language.
  • Relax.
  • Have a backup plan.
  • Follow up after.

Dress professionally

Even though you are not meeting your interviewer in person, it is still important to dress professionally. Wear something clean, conservative and business casual. If you can, you may want to research the company's dress code in advance. Wear nice pants and shoes, just in case you need to stand up or walk away from the camera. Your dress will communicate your level of professionalism with the interviewer, so dress conscientiously.

Read more: How to Dress for a Job Interview

Make eye contact

Making eye contact during an online interview is more difficult than you might think. When answering questions, you will need to focus your gaze directly into the webcam instead of at the interviewer's face or your own. Maintaining eye contact and nodding will show the interviewer that you are involved and listening attentively.

Consider your body language

It is harder to read body language through a video, so be especially aware of your nonverbal cues. Remember to smile and nod when the interviewer speaks. Sit up straight and act as you would during an in-person interview. You obviously will not be able to shake hands when signing off, so you will need to show your professionalism and good manners in other ways.

Read more: Nonverbal Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Relax

Your worst enemy during an online interview may be your own nerves. Take a deep breath before the call, and try to remain calm and collected during the interview. If you can communicate confidently with the interviewer, you are far more likely to leave a lasting positive impression than if you seem nervous. Remember, one of the best solutions for interview anxiety is practicing your answers ahead of time.

Have a backup plan

Technology is notorious for malfunctioning at inconvenient times. Before your interview, contact your interviewer and agree upon a backup plan in case of glitches. Transitioning to a phone call or rescheduling for a later time are both possible solutions for technical difficulties. Do not panic if your software experiences an issue. If the problem is outside your control, the interviewer will understand.

Follow up after

After the interview, you will need to send a thank you note to the interviewer. This can be a physical card or an email depending on the situation. Wait for a few days after the interview and if you have not heard from the interviewer, reach out to them. Ask if the hiring process is still ongoing and find out if they need any more information from you. Remember to always thank the interviewer for their time.

Read more: How to Follow Up on a Job Application

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