Many organizations changed the ways they conduct business as a result of COVID-19—one of those adaptations is moving from in-person to virtual meetings, including interviews. If you’re unfamiliar with these types of interviews, it can be confusing to know how to prepare for and succeed at them.
As a recruiter, I’ve learned specific ways candidates can prepare themselves for an engaging and successful virtual interview. In this article, we’ll explore ways you can set yourself apart from other candidates in your next video interview.
How to participate in a virtual interview
1. Familiarize yourself with the platform
Whether it's Zoom, BlueJeans or Skype, take the time to familiarize yourself with the video interview platform that you’ll be using. If you’re unsure which platform the employer uses, feel free to ask your recruiter when they are outlining next steps to you.
I recommend connecting with a friend or family member to get feedback on your audio and video quality to ensure you’ll be presenting yourself as intended. Doing this on the same day of your interview can help you feel more confident so you’re able to communicate effectively during the interview.
Taking the interview from a laptop or desktop is preferred, but if those are unavailable, your phone or tablet can be effective tools as well. If you do use your phone or tablet, find an area that has stable internet access as these devices are more susceptible to technical difficulties. If you’re concerned about technical difficulties, reach out to your recruiter while the interview is being scheduled to ask who you should contact in case those difficulties arise.
2. Don’t rush yourself
When a recruiter is ready to start scheduling your interview, they’ll ask for your availability. While you may want to express your excitement and say “ASAP” or give the earliest possible time, try to ensure you’re selecting a time when you’ll be able to be fully present and prepared. For example, if your kids are staying home due to school cancellations and require more of your attention in the morning, you might ask for an afternoon interview.
If a recruiter is asking you over the phone for your availability, there is no harm in asking if you can follow up in an email with those times once you’re able to look at your calendar. As a recruiter, we’d much rather you be able to perform your best than interview at the earliest opportunity.
3. Mirror the dress code
It is always important to research the company that’s interviewing you. A key part of that research during the interview process should be its culture, including the dress code. You can lean on your recruiter as a source for this kind of information, as they want you to feel comfortable and provide you with all the information necessary to be successful. Once you know the dress code, mirror it as much as possible for your video interview. The interviewer is likely approaching this interview the same way they’d approach an in-person interview, so you should as well.
4. Set the right environment for yourself
Not only in regards to making sure you are well lit but also making sure your environment is free of distraction. This could mean leaving your phone in another room, closing all unnecessary tabs on your browser, and making sure you’re in an area where your pets won’t interfere.
5. Make the most of your time
Most interviews have a time limit. It is important to make the most of that time, as the interviewer is likely looking for several key pieces of information in your conversation. Try to answer their questions in full without irrelevant or unnecessary detail.
Keeping your answers brief will ensure that you’re able to cover the rest of the questions that the interviewer had planned to ask. If the interviewer requires more information, they will ask you to elaborate. You can also reach out to your recruiter prior to the interview to gain as much information about the interviewer as possible, including what topics they are likely to cover and what types of questions you should prepare to answer.