Tips for Virtual Interviews That Will Virtually Get You the Job

Congratulations – you got the interview!  As the company you want to work for is forward-thinking and tech-minded, they may want to do your interview on a videoconferencing platform.  For many businesses, this is now the preferred way to go about it.  The number of applicants for every job being filled has been rising since the recession.  A virtual interview lets them learn more about each candidate than a telephone interview would allow, before bringing them in for the real deal.

 

Interviewing on the telephone can be awkward.  People commonly talk all over each other, and without the aid of eye contact, facial expressions, and body language, it’s hard to interpret the undertones of what people say.  Interviewing on a videoconferencing platform takes away some of that awkwardness – but requires a little more effort to get it right.  To put your best foot forward on a virtual platform, you’ll need a bit of Steve Jobs and a pinch of Emily Post – both technical know-how and classical etiquette are essential for acing a virtual interview.

 

Are you experienced?

businessFirst off, understand the ins and outs of the software that you’ll be using for videoconferencing.  Take some time to play around with the different features, such as the microphone, sound, split screen, and screen sharing.  Even if you’ve used the program before, don’t let yourself get overconfident.  Pretend like you’re a newbie who’s never laid eyes on it.  You may even learn something new and be able to show them a trick or two.  They’ll be impressed by your savvy with the software of choice if you can use it with flair – and they won’t if you seem clueless.

 

Put on Your Monday Best

Videoconferencing are a little less formal than in-person interviews, but only by a fraction.  With the opportunity to see you, the search committee will be paying attention to your personal traits, and that includes what you’re wearing.  You can probably get away with not wearing a suit, but look professional.  Find out what the dress code is at the company, and then aim a little above that.  You’re trying to impress them, but you also want to look like you could be one of them.  A keen eye for their style sense will subconsciously help them envision having you as part of the team.  Even if it’s a telecommute position, wait until you’re actually hired before you start working in your PJs.

 

How About a Little Peace and Quiet?

153778573Dogs barking?  Kids crying?  Dishwasher running?  These may be everyday noises in and around your home, but you’d never hear them in an interview!  Set aside a quiet space free from distractions where you can hide away while you answer the big questions.  There will be plenty of time to deal with your usual multi-tasking after you’ve secured your spot in the short list.  If you don’t have a private office, any quiet space – the basement, your bedroom – will work.  Just be sure to keep the dirty laundry out of sight.

 

Look Me in the Eyes

The web is full of distractions.  I can haz more cute cat pictures plz?  In your web interview, your full attention should always be on the interviewers and their questions (and when it’s not, it should be on your responses!)  Avoid fidgeting, looking away from the webcam, twiddling your fingers, rubbing your eyes, or anything that’s not engaging with the search committee.  These bad habits can become reasons for them to consider you a less desirable candidate.

eyesMake eye contact.  Some practice can help here, as webcams are fussy about orientation: test out talking to someone via your webcam to make sure you’ll actually be making eye contact, and not staring at a spot in the corner of the room.  Unless you plan on sharing documents or websites, avoid opening any other windows on your computer.  Searching through your desktop will make you look distracted. Instead, print out anything you’ll need to reference beforehand – just like you’d do in person.

 

Be Expressive!  Be-E-Expressive!

The squeaky wheel gets the job.  Use the advantage of videoconferencing to convey why the company should bring you back for a second interview.  You can do this directly, by stating how your qualifications and characteristics fit well with the company and job.  Or you can be more coy about it, by expressing something you find particularly interesting about the company/job, or relating a work story that demonstrates you’re the one.  Either way, be vocal about why you want to work with them.  Be natural with your voice and facial expressions: it’s common when you’re nervous about an interview to freeze up, go monotone, and forget to smile.  Make sure you express what you’re thinking and feeling both with your body language as well as your voice, and you’ll get the message across.