How to Nail An Online Job Interview
With the COVID-19 pandemic still pretty much present in the current world, many businesses and companies are choosing to interview their job candidates online. According to Recruiter, 63% of interviews are done online. This is particularly true for the early stages of the talent search.
During these early stages of searching for the perfect job candidate, many companies are only conducting online interviews, with little to no exceptions, and some even choose to move their entire hiring process completely online.
If you’ve been chosen for a preliminary job interview with a company, and it’s taking place online, you might be wondering how you can set yourself up for success in such a setting. While online job interviews are indeed very similar to in-person interviews, there are some things you should be aware of. We’re going to cover all the steps necessary to ace your online job interview.
HOW DO ONLINE INTERVIEWS DIFFER FROM IN-PERSON ONES?
There are a number of differences between in-person job interviews and online interviews. The first and most obvious one that comes to mind is the fact that you could face potential tech or internet problems, which could hinder your chances of success.
While you won’t have to worry about what kind of pants or shoes you’re wearing, you will have to worry about your surroundings, background, and lighting. Additionally, speaking to someone online can make it quite difficult to read the person.
Even in-person interviews tend to be pretty nerve-racking for people who are prone to performance anxiety. be You might feel as though you’re not really having a conversation with your interviewer, which could put on a lot of additional stress and make you feel even more nervous. On the flip side, some people might find it more pleasant to be interviewed in their own space.
STEPS TOWARDS A SUCCESSFUL ONLINE JOB INTERVIEW
1. Test Your Equipment And Computer
There are many apps that can be used for online interviews, for example, Zoom, Skype, or even FaceTime. It’s wise to ask your interviewer which method you’ll be using so that you can install and try out the video conferencing apps in advance.
In addition to trying out the app, it’s of utmost importance to make sure that both your audio and video equipment is working properly. Consider using headphones for your interview as they have better microphones than the ones that come with any laptop. Opt for discrete earbuds or a headset that’s not too big (avoid gaming headphones). It’ll also make it easier to cancel any potential background noise, plus you’ll be able to hear your interviewers better.
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to test your internet connection in advance. You can perform a simple internet connection speed test on websites such as Speedtest by Ookla. Video conferencing typically requires around 1.5 to 2 Mbps of download speed, and 2Mbps for upload speed, so make sure your internet speed falls within that range.
If you happen to have a poor connection speed, try using a LAN cable instead of WiFi. If the speed is still not fast enough, consider going to a local internet cafe or quiet coffee shop to have your interview. It’s also a wise idea to have a backup plan if everything else fails, for example, you can resort to using your phone if your laptop isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to.
2. Choose A Good Spot For Lighting
Choosing a great spot for lighting is essential because you want to show yourself in the best light possible. Avoid dark rooms or overhead lights, as these can make your video look unprofessional. Instead, opt for a spot near a window with your face facing the light.
Also, avoid having any lighting behind yourself as this can make it more difficult to see your screen and your interviewers. Make sure you have a stable table or any other surface, and if necessary prop your laptop or camera so that you’re visible from your shoulders up. You can also use a tripod if you’re using your mobile phone or tablet.
3. Don’t Use Virtual Backgrounds
Many video conferencing apps offer virtual backgrounds for their users. While these may look fun, they’re not appropriate for a formal job interview, so don’t resort to using them. They’re unprofessional and distracting. Instead, choose a spot in your house or apartment that looks the most professional – you can even stage it a little bit.
4. Remove Any Distractions Around You
If you’re having your interview in your bedroom, make sure to remove any clutter that might be lying around, such as clothes, towels, or anything else that might give off the wrong first impression.
You want to seem organized, neat, and nothing reflects that more than your surroundings and the space you live in. By adding a few tasteful pieces of decor you can set yourself up for success and give off a great first impression during your online job interview.
Don’t forget to remove any audio distractions, including your phone, or at least set it to silent mode. If you have pets or kids, make sure they’re not in the same room while you’re being interviewed, as they could create a lot of commotion and unnecessary noise.
5. Dress and Look Professionally
After you’ve taken care of your surroundings, it’s time to take care of yourself and your appearance. Even though the interview is taking place online, it’s still expected of you to look presentable and professional. You might be wondering what to wear for your interview. A buttoned shirt or a simple blouse or sweater will do just fine.
Obviously, the first thing the interviewer is going to notice about you is your looks, so make sure that you dress accordingly and don’t forget to sit up straight. Having great posture can speak volumes about someone’s confidence and overall appeal.
Don’t forget to smile, as this will make you appear more engaged and professional, plus it will leave a great impression and make both yourself and your interviewer feel more comfortable with each other.
6. Calm Yourself Down In Advance
If you tend to get anxious before job interviews, you might be wondering how to improve your interview performance. Calming yourself down and staying focused will help you perform better during your interview. However, that’s often easier said than done.
You might feel less anxious if you practice your main talking points before the actual job interview. There are a lot of questions that are almost certainly going to be asked, such as general questions about yourself, previous work experience, skills, and knowledge. Some interview questions are more difficult than others, so it’s important to prepare in good time.
You can practice your answers to help with your nerves. Also, remember to talk slowly and clearly, as it is a lot easier to talk over other people during online calls. Make sure you’re facing your camera at all times and avoid any distracting camera angles.
7. Maintain Eye Contact With Your Interviewer
You might be tempted to only look at your screen during your entire interview, which is natural, but don’t forget that during an in-person interview you would typically maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Practice looking at your camera instead of your screen, as this will leave a better overall impression.
If you’re going to be using a mobile phone, it might not even be noticeable whether you’re looking at the screen or at the camera, which is great. If you have an external camera connected to your PC, make sure you place it in such a way that it’s going to be facing your face, and avoid any unprofessional angels.
8. Pay Attention and Listen
Video calls and dodgy internet connections make it extremely easy to mishear things. Make sure that you’re paying close attention to what your interviewer is asking or saying at all times. If you happen to miss something important, don’t be afraid to ask.
Online calls also make it difficult not to interrupt each other, so make sure you write down any important questions and ask them when the timing is right. If you have to take notes during the interview, make sure that it is not interfering with your listening, as that might hinder your chances of success.
9. Be Mindful of Your Body Language
Your posture and body language speak volumes about your self-confidence levels. That’s why it’s important to sit up and maintain good posture throughout your interview, with no distracting body language. It’s okay to use your hands while you’re speaking, but make sure you’re not sitting with your arms crossed.
Instead, use engaging body language, which will help boost your energy and confidence. Face the interviewer directly, and use head nods or tilts to show your interest in the conversation. Avoid slouching or shrugging your shoulders during your online interview.
10. Don’t Use Notes Or Anything Similar
It’s more than fine if you want to take notes during the interview to quickly jot down any further follow-up questions or important information your interviewer has shared with you, but avoid having or using any premade answers or notes of any kind.
Not only will it be very obvious to your interviewer that you’re reading your answers, but it will also make the entire interview seems forced and awkward. If you feel nervous, it’s okay to take a few seconds after each question to think about your answer.
11. Prepare Questions in Advance
Before your interview, you’ll want to do some prior research about the company and the overall industry of the job you’re applying for. It’s a good idea to prepare questions in advance, as the recruiters are more than likely to ask you if you have any relevant questions for them.
For example, you can ask about whether or not overtime work is expected, what the biggest challenges of the job are, or even what the typical work week looks like at the company. You could also ask when or if they will get back to you. Having questions will show them that you’ve put some thought into the actual interview beforehand.
12. Follow Up After Your Interview
After you’ve successfully finished your online job interview, it’s time to regroup your thoughts and come up with a follow-up plan. If the hiring manager doesn’t reach out to you in due time, it’s smart to send a follow-up email and show them you’re interested and dedicated to getting the job.
While you certainly don’t want to come off as desperate or obnoxious, following up after an interview shows that you’re not apathetic towards the job. A simple thank you email will reassert how keen you are on getting the job and it can go a long way in convincing them that you’re the person they should hire. If you don’t hear back from them, it’s also smart to ask whether the job position is still open. Don’t forget to always thank them for their time.
PREPARING FOR AN ONLINE JOB INTERVIEW
Ever since the pandemic began, more and more businesses have been conducting their job interviews online, especially in the early phases of the hiring process. While being interviewed online can certainly make you feel overwhelmed and stressed out, there are steps you can take to decrease your anxiety levels and make sure that it goes smoothly.
Even though in-person and online interviews tend to be very similar in terms of overall flow and questions, there are some key differences to note. Of course, the biggest difference is the need for technology and the Internet.
Ensuring that your tech setup and Internet are working properly is important, but so is dressing professionally and staying calm. Making a good impression and following up after the interview, if necessary, will set you up for success and ensure you get the job over other candidates.
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