How to Prepare for Virtual Interviews
Virtual job interviews are becoming an increasingly common part of the hiring process, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. This article will show you how to properly prepare for any digital interview requests you receive, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
1. Search for your interviewers online
This is the first thing I do when preparing for a job interview. Not only can this help you to attach a face to a name before you meet, albeit virtually, but it can give you some insight regarding the type of people, clients and tasks at the company. I usually just search their name(s) on LinkedIn using its private mode feature or in incognito mode so they can't see that I was snooping.
2. Research the company
You probably researched the company before you applied, but now is a good time to review its history, work, clients, awards and other relevant pages on its website. Being able to reference core values or connecting to the mission shows the interviewer that you put some time and effort into learning about the company. You may want to review the job description during this time, too.
3. Read news regarding the company (and its clients)
Briefly reviewing the website’s newsroom or recent studies will keep you updated in case your interviewer references any recent happenings. If you haven’t already, you should probably read current events as well.
4. Practice common interview questions
This tip helps relieve some pre-interview anxiety! First, I search common interview questions and list them all in a document, and then I answer them. Preparing and practicing an articulate answer allows me to prevent wasting time thinking about the interviewer’s question. Make sure you practice enough to remember the main point of your answer, not to sound mechanical or rehearsed.
5. Read Glassdoor reviews
Glassdoor reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt, but they can be helpful when analyzing company culture and reading what past employees have said. In addition, I like to check the average salary to compare it to other companies across the industry and read the interview questions tab, which helps tip #4.
6. Develop key points
I learned this tip from a trusted mentor. He advised me to pick three main points that I would like my interviewer to know about me by the end of my interview and reiterate them throughout our discussion. Personally, I like to write them on a sticky note to keep on my laptop or on my desk to help remind me of my key points while we speak.
7. Brainstorm potential questions
Never enter job interviews without thoughtful questions! I always ask interviewers to describe their ideal candidate and about the company culture to ease into more thought-provoking questions, such as asking them to outline the company’s strategic process or how upward mobility works. Maybe something from the company website or Glassdoor profile piqued your interest and sparked a question.
8. Forward interviewers your resume and/or portfolio
This step is optional because interviewers normally pull up relevant documents during interviews anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to forward the files if you receive a confirmation email from your interviewer.
9. Check (and double check) your technology
Ensure your internet connection is secure and your laptop or phone is fully charged. Download and test any digital platforms (such as Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams) to prevent any last-minute technical difficulties. I recommend examining your laptop a few days in advance and later checking it an hour or so before your interview. If the software is incompatible with your computer, then you have enough time to either fix it or to alert your interviewer. If I am expecting a call, I check that my phone is not on do not disturb, but if I am using my laptop, I leave that setting on.
10. Look presentable
Dress as if you were preparing for an in-person interview. Even if you have a phone interview, changing out of your pajamas can put you in the interview mindset. Your hair (and makeup, if applicable) should be tasteful and professional. My only advice is to check that the top half of your outfit isn’t too flashy for the webcam. In my opinion, the best part about virtual interviews is the opportunity to change back into loungewear immediately after!
11. Arrange your space
Ensure you have a quiet, private and well-lit space for your interview and clean up your workspace and background to prevent any distractions. Communicate to your roommates that you will on a phone call during the scheduled time and create a sign for your door as a reminder not to disturb you. If you are using a digital platform, this is a good time to put your phone away or set it on do not disturb.
12. Be personable
Although it can be challenging to convey yourself during a short call, try your best to let your personality shine. Being polite and making the interviewer laugh once or twice helps make the call more comfortable and conversational, which shows them you would natural fit for their team.
13. Monitor your body language
Obviously, shaking your interviewer’s hand via webcam or over the phone is impossible, but you can use other motions to show you are engaged in the conversation. Maintaining eye contact with the camera, smiling, nodding and using hand gestures, when appropriate, can help build a connection.
14. Thank your interviewers via email
Send everyone involved an individual email thanking them for their time and consideration within 24 hours of your interview. This shows the interviewers that you value their time and understand basic business etiquette. In addition, this gives you an opportunity to bring up something you may have forgotten to mention or ask during your interview.
If you follow the above advice, you will be sure to succeed in any virtual interview during this distressing time. Despite COVID-19’s impact on the job market, don’t be discouraged from applying to jobs! Many companies, including those in health care and other relevant industries, are still hiring or have posted new available positions.
Don't forget to remain optimistic and prudent during your search for employment! If you cannot secure a job or internship during this time, seek other professional development opportunities; they are there, but not in the form you'd expect. Some examples include helping a local business with its social media, developing your personal brand or earning a new certification to add to your resume. No matter what happens, there is always an opportunity to improve your skills.