Throughout the pandemic, we’ve become accustomed to heavily relying on the world of technology to continue with our everyday lives. As a result, the use of virtual interviews has reached new heights. Given it’s the new normal, we’ve rounded up virtual interview tips to keep in mind for next time.
VidCruiter, a virtual recruiting platform company based out of New Brunswick, had been allowing companies to interview potential employees from the comfort of their homes well before the pandemic began. Over the last year and a half, they’ve seen unprecedented growth.
“Now everyone is using video. There’s been a larger adoption of the technology in the market,” said Sean Fahey, CEO and Founder of VidCruiter.
With the technology available, and remote work more normalized than ever, the talent pool is nationwide, even worldwide for some companies. Though we’ve eased into the comforts of our homes for far too long, and are itching to socialize and get out into the “real world,” the matter of fact is that virtual interviews are likely here to stay.
Video interviews are easily accessible, save companies time and money, and blow open the doors for how and when you can find new talent.
So, how does one prepare for and stand out in a virtual interview? First, it’s important to recognize that there are two types of virtual interviews: pre-recorded and live.
A pre-recorded interview sees yourself, the interviewee, answer prompted questions in video format. This allows recruiters to watch—and rewatch—your answers to get a sense of who you are, before committing to a live interview. This step is an easy way for recruiters to sift through applicants and determine who may be a good fit or not.
“You know how on Friday night you log into Netflix and watch a movie? Well Monday morning you [a recruiter] log into VidCruiter and watch interviews,” said Fahey, about how a recruiter would process pre-recorded applicants.
No one wants to watch a movie with a 34 percent recommendation on Netflix. So, this is your chance to show the company that you are at least 80 percent compatible with their needs.
A live video interview follows the standard of what you typically expect from an in-person interview, it just happens to be over a screen.
Luckily, for both types, the advice remains the same. Here are six virtual interview tips to help you land the job.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
With virtual interviews—especially pre-recorded—recruiters can watch, and even re-watch, your every move. Therefore, practicing should be at the top of your list when preparing for an interview. By practicing beforehand, you can avoid getting caught off guard by how you look in the camera and make sure you catch any potential nervous tell you might give, like fidgeting or constantly moving in your chair.
“It’s just the same as practicing in front of a mirror,” said Fahey. So, why not turn on your video camera and practice to ensure you’re all ready to go when the time comes?
Have an Appropriate Set-Up
Make sure you have good lighting. We recommend facing the light rather than having to come from behind you or else you risk looking like a shadow of yourself. Also, check that your webcam is on, and your microphone works. They sound like simple housekeeping tasks, yet are crucial when conducting virtual interviews. Most systems allow you to preview your screen and settings prior to entering, so do a final once over before entering the call. You don’t want to have your first interaction go unheard because you’re muted.
Preferably, you also want to have a clean background, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bare. Feel free to have a display of books behind you to give your interviewer a glimpse at what you’re reading these days, or proudly display your plant to show off your caretaking abilities. We do recommend choosing a background without doors, as you don’t want to risk someone coming through the door. And pro tip: have your camera at eye level (not looking down or up at you) to mimic an in-person chat as much as possible.
By allowing for the least amount of distraction during your interview, your employers can stay focused on what you are saying.
Dress for the part you want. As with an in-person interview, you’re expected to dress appropriately when conducting a virtual interview, either live or pre-recorded. Although with virtual interviews it might feel silly to put on a suit just to walk ten steps to your living room, your appearance is still a deciding factor in many cases.
Having an appropriate attire and ensuring your background is simple and clean go hand in hand. It shows your employer you are organized and that you are committed to succeeding in your interview—and the job at hand.
“Make sure you’re in a quiet area, you’re comfortable, you’re prepared, but you’re not doing it at the last minute as well,” said Fahey.
Though you don’t need to drive anywhere or get on a train to arrive for this interview, you do want to give yourself time to gather your thoughts before the call. “Arrive early,” even if that just means sitting at your computer 10 minutes before the call. This time period can also be used to make sure there are no technical difficulties before joining and give you the chance to have a final look over your space to feel comfortable.
For pre-recorded interviews, arriving early means not waiting until the last minute to record yourself and submit your answers. That way, you’re not racing the clock to get it done.
Don’t Be Robotic
Doing an interview through a screen may seem more impersonal than in person, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show your personality.
With live video interviews, don’t be afraid to break the ice and have a bit of small chat before diving into the questions. It will make you feel more at ease if you make a genuine connection first before talking about your resume.
For a pre-recorded interview, you may be on a time-limit to answer each question, but the advice of not being robotic still holds true. Try to use a reasonable amount of time to answer each question, using strong examples of past experience. Don’t just give a one to two-sentence answer and get on to the next. Remember, this is your chance to catch a recruiter’s eye!
Most importantly, breathe. Obviously, you’ll have to be alive and breathing to be present in the interview, but take the time to be intentional and confident in your answers. If you’re applying for the position, you must think you’re right for it, so tell them why!
Take a deep breath before entering, be calm throughout it, and relax knowing that no matter how your virtual interview goes, you can go to the kitchen and get a tub of ice cream to comfort yourself right after.