As we reach the end of lockdowns and circuit breakers that most countries experienced amid the height of the pandemic, the dust is starting to settle and everyone is starting to accept the realities of the new normal which include: social distancing face masks, remote working and virtual interviews.
Whether you’re applying for an internship, full-time or part-time job opportunity the odds of you meeting your prospective employer face to face any time soon are slim. The risk of face to face interviews is just too high at the moment. So, it’s time to say hello to the new normal! Where all meetings are held virtually, luckily, free video-conferencing software from ZOOM, GOOGLE HANGOUTS & MICROSOFT TEAMS can easily replace in-person interviews, and more and more companies are turning to them to keep the hiring process moving.
So, whether you've got a lot of experience doing video or telephone interviews or you’re a newbie to the practice we at half the sky have developed a quick guide to get you ready with four simple and practical steps:
Step 1: Ready your device
When being interviewed, you want to put your best on show. Video interviews are no different in that sense than a normal face to face interview – first impressions count. So, start by preparing your essential devices whether it is your laptop, tablet or mobile phone make sure it’s fully charged! This is a no-brainer, the last thing you want is to run out of battery mid way through your interveiw, double-check to make sure its charged, especially if you were using it to do some research or watch movies (to destress) the previous night.
Also, make sure you have the program / application that you will be using installed on your device, so that if your browser fails to open the page, you have the app ready on your device. Familiarize yourself with the app, do learn how it works, which button to click on should you need to share your screen, where to mute your mic, etc.
Finally, please check that your webcam is functioning, and give it a good wipe beforehand so that the lens is clean, and your interviewers will be able to see you clearly.
Pro Tip: remember to check these things before your interview session: (1) your Internet connection, (2) functionality of device speakers or earphones / headphones and (3) your mic. Make sure they are all in proper working order, to ensure good audio and video transmission throughout the interview.
Step 2: Ready the room
Pick a well-lit spot against a plain, neutral background. Prepare the spot the day before, and let family members / housemates know you will be using it for an online interview the following day. In the event you wake up late (fingers crossed no), at least you need not worry about where you will be interviewing!
Let your partner, family or housemates know you’ll need their help while you go for your online interview. This may be for stuff like ‘pet-sitting’ for the hour, entertaining the kids, getting the door for any deliveries, etc. Ask for their help and understanding working together in these current testing times. If you’re living with friends, offer to return the favour the next time they have an interview.
If you live alone, make sure you have no deliveries that day. If there are, perhaps you could hang a sign on the door asking package deliverers to call you back after the allotted time, there is nothing worse than having the doorbell ring constantly whilst you’re interviewing.
This is super important; you do not have to ‘dress up’ the room but do adhere to these 2 guidelines for setting up a presentable background:
- Natural light or added light is essential. If possible, try settling down near a window. Make sure the spot is not too dark or the other extreme, has glaring, overhead lights.
- Ensure that the background is clutter-free and tidy (like, free from piles of newspaper or laundry, etc.). Having these items on cam is just distracting and worse, might suggest to your prospective employers that you’re a little messy at home, which we certainly do not want!
Step 3: Ready yourself!
And now, it’s YOUR time to shine! Just like how you would prepare for any face-to-face interview, the steps are pretty much the same. Have your resume printed out and ready. Get a good night’s rest, rise early, have a quick workout anything that helps you get in the right frame of mind to ace the interview.
You may not be meeting them in person, but do dress for success. This is an important part of non-verbal communication. If you’re unsure about what to wear, do some research and check out the company’s social media pages or LinkedIn for an idea of the company’s culture and dress code.
Remember to look your best although you’re in the comfort of your own home – setting a good first impression is essential in winning hearts and minds it also shows more than anything that you have put effort and thought into the day’s interview and your extra effort shows (literally). Also, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of only looking presentable from head to waist, as you may think they can’t see the lower half of your body like the unfortunate half-dressed reporter on “Good Morning America” whose bare legs were exposed on national television.
Don’t get caught: dress well from head to toe, so that if you need to stand up to quickly grab a document or adjust your equipment, you’ll have nothing to hide. Also have a glass of water nearby should you get thirsty.
Pro Tip: for projecting confidence: Sit up straight, smile and look your interviewer in the eye. That means, look into the webcam lens, not the screen. Remember to maintain eye contact, like you normally would when you meet someone in real life.
Furthermore, do turn off all email, text and social media notifications (both sound and display notifications), software updates and other programs that might interfere with the webcam. Close browsers, log off social media if necessary, to minimize distractions.
Step 4: Cheat! Have your notes at hand.
Tap into the advantage of online interviews - you can have NOTES in front of you!
You won’t have to memorize anything, and it’s good to have them at hand so that you can take a quick look if needed. These may include: important questions to ask, company news, potential talking points and so on. You get the idea. Do not read from your material; give them a quick glance if you’re unsure of something.
And last but not least, do as you normally would. Thank your interviewers for their time, and the opportunity. Send a Thank you note within the next day, add something you and your potential employer discussed in the web meeting to add a personal touch to your message.
That’s it! 4 simple and actionable steps for you to ace your next virtual interview. Do you have more to share?
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About half the sky
half the sky (HTS) is a career platform for women in Asia. We connect women to career opportunities at companies that care. We also want to equip you with information, tips and strategies to navigate the workplace today and the future.
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