If you are currently looking for a job, chances are you’ll find yourself interviewing remotely. Companies began trading their offices for Zoom rooms at the height of the pandemic, and it does not look like they are swapping back anytime soon.
There are undoubtedly some significant upsides to this transition. For example, you can bid farewell to the stress of being late, discreetly glance at your notes, and, without any geographic barriers in your way, access a wider hiring pool.
There are, however, also some drawbacks to consider. Technological challenges such as poor internet connection, audio or visual glitches, and limited non-verbal communication can disrupt the interview flow and limit your ability to develop a genuine connection with your interviewer. Absent physical exposure to the workplace, you may also miss the opportunity to understand the company’s culture properly, meet potential teammates, and assess whether you will be a proper fit for the position.
Finally, while you may now have access to a broader hiring pool, so will other candidates, which means the competition will likely intensify. Whether you are a virtual master or a newcomer to the remote-interviewing game, our guide below will equip you with the confidence and tools to reduce stress and help you get the job.
Here are five essential tips to remember at your following virtual job interview.
Set The Scene
Setting the scene is about controlling the illusion of how you come off a computer screen. Interviewing virtually limits your ability to make a genuine connection with your interviewer, so you must intentionally use your space, environment, and appearance to create a strong and lasting impression.
Test Your Technology
The first thing you will want to do after accepting a virtual interview is to check your technology, including your internet connection, webcam, and microphone, to ensure they are working correctly. Also, familiarize yourself with the conferencing software or platform’s features and controls, such as muting/unmuting, screen sharing, and camera settings.
Choose a Suitable Location
Finding a good interview spot is critical, yet it does not have to mean rearranging your entire room. Instead, choose a quiet and well-lit area in your home or workspace where you can interview without interruptions.
Ensure that your surroundings are clean and free from clutter so your interviewer can focus on what you offer rather than be distracted by something in your background. Consider using a neutral or blurred virtual background to enhance your professional appearance. Silence all distractions, turn off the TV, and close any nearby windows to create a focused and uninterrupted environment for your virtual job interview.
Dress to Impress
To make a positive impression on your interviewer, dress professionally for a virtual interview as you would for an in-person interview. This shows that you are very much interested in the opportunity. It’s essential to maintain the same level of formality, even though you are interviewing from your own home. If you need more clarification, opt for business casual attire.
Prepare For The Expected & Unexpected
You can anticipate various questions during the interview, including behavioral, technical, analytical, functional, and open-ended inquiries. Employers aim to gain insights into your relevant experience, how it aligns with the position, their office culture, and your ability to handle different scenarios.
Here are examples of questions you may encounter during your virtual interview and strategies for effectively responding to them.
Tell me about yourself.
Begin with a brief personal introduction that provides insight into your professional and educational background. Keep it concise and focus on details relevant to the position you are interviewing for, such as your current role or area of expertise.
Next, highlight your relevant experience by discussing your professional experience in more detail, emphasizing skills, responsibilities, and accomplishments that directly relate to the position you are interviewing for.
Be sure to make a clear connection between your past experiences and the job you are interviewing for by identifying essential skills or accomplishments that align with the requirements of the new role.
Why do you want to work here?
This question emphasizes the importance of being well-prepared.
Take the time to review the job description carefully and conduct thorough research on the company. Interviewers can easily recognize when you’ve invested effort into understanding their organization. Visit the company’s website, read its mission statement, and better understand its workplace culture and professional and social priorities.
Tell us about a time you faced a challenge and how you successfully overcame it.
Here, the interviewer seeks insight into how you self-manage and deal with difficulty, testing your character and skill.
Reflect on the challenge by outlining the situation and its significance, explaining your approach to overcoming it, including strategies and innovative methods, and conclude by sharing the positive outcome and impact of your actions, including any lessons learned.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
When referencing the job description, identify your strengths that align with the required skills. Ensure that your weaknesses do not hinder your qualifications, and emphasize efforts to improve and transform those weaknesses into strengths.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Interviewers pose this question to gain insights into your career aspirations and potential fit within the organization. While it is acceptable to provide a general response, ensure you highlight the alignment between your career goals and what the company and position offer. In addition, emphasize how your aspirations resonate with the opportunities and prospects available within the organization.
Rehearse to Comfort, Not Perfection
Virtual interviews can be even more monotonous and dry than in-person interviews, so your biggest challenge will be keeping the conversation engaging and exciting.
Steer clear of sounding overly scripted during your interview, whether in your elevator pitch or responses to general questions. It’s crucial to come across as natural and authentic, allowing your true personality to shine.
Avoid rigidly sticking to a pre-rehearsed script and instead focus on delivering your responses genuinely and spontaneously. Feel free to keep notes open on your laptop styled in a short, bullet-point fashion, but avoid writing an entire script to read off. This will help you establish a more meaningful connection with the interviewer and leave a lasting impression.
While you may not have the opportunity for a firm handshake or to convey enthusiasm as efficiently in a virtual setting, you can still communicate confidence through mindful body language.
Maintain an upright posture, wear a smile, and ensure your camera is positioned at eye level and you’re looking into the camera rather than the interviewer’s image or reflection.
Make a Connection
Before your interview, invest some time in researching your interviewer to discover shared interests. Many companies provide information about the person you’ll be meeting with in advance.
Take advantage of this opportunity and explore their LinkedIn profile to see the articles they share, the groups they participate in, the conferences they’ve spoken at, or any voluntary work they are involved in. This preparation allows you to find common ground and engage in meaningful conversations during the interview.
During a remote interview, you may have unanswered questions about the office and company culture. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask about various aspects of the position, such as office facilities, team makeup, and the overall company culture. Don’t hesitate to seek clarification or express curiosity, as the recruiter will appreciate your genuine interest. Here are some questions to consider:
- What do you believe a successful employee looks like in this position?
- What are the organization’s short-term and long-term goals?
- What opportunities are available for professional development and growth within the company?
- What is the organization’s response to internal and external challenges, and how do you support your employees’ well-being?
- How do you and senior leadership respond to errors made in the workplace?
- How would you describe the organizational structure at this company?
Send a Thank you
Within 24 hours of the interview, send individual thank-you emails to everyone you meet. This gesture demonstrates your appreciation for their time and provides an opportunity to reinforce your qualifications and highlight any additional points you may have missed.
Bottom Line: Preparation Is Key!
From ensuring your technology runs smoothly to researching the company beforehand, your greatest interview asset will be your preparation. By approaching the interview with readiness and composure, you can confidently address any questions that come your way, setting yourself apart from other candidates and increasing your chances of acing your next virtual interview.