How to Prepare for Virtual Interviews
As work-from-home becomes the new normal, so do virtual interviews. Despite their now-personal settings, it’s still important to keep interviews you do from home professional.
When you’re using video chat to interview for a new position, you’ll want to make a great impression and wow the person who’s interviewing you.
Use this checklist to make sure every video meeting you have goes off without a hitch.
1. Software Testing 1, 2, 3
Before the interview, make sure you:
- Download the software the meeting will use.
- Make sure it’s updated.
- Test it.
Some meetings are not as simple to join by clicking on a link. You’ll need to have an application downloaded ahead of time to launch for the meeting. Do this before you’re meeting so there aren’t any delays.
Then, test the software. Ask a family member or loved one to have a quick meeting with you to make sure it’s working. Align your camera so that it’s at eye-level and captures your whole face.
If you already have the software downloaded but haven’t used the application in a while, you may need to update it so that it works in optimal condition. In some cases, this can take several minutes, so you’ll want to take care of software updates before the meeting, too.
Then, test the software again with a quick meeting.
2. Light It Up
Optimal lighting is key to making a good first impression. According to the Association for Psychological Science, first impressions have been shown to last for months and affect personal judgements and impressions, even when new evidence about the individual is presented. When someone’s talking to you and can’t see you because of poor lighting, or because the lighting is unflattering, that could tarnish the impression you’re making.
In addition to testing the software, you’ll want to test the lighting for an interview. If you’re using natural light, where you’re located will affect how well-lit you are and what shadows may mask you. After you set a meeting time, find the place in your home with the best natural light for that time of day in terms of how it will light you up.
Better yet, invest in a ring light for photoshoot-worthy lighting wherever you are. Ring lights provide illumination in a variety of styles and start at around $60.
If you’re using Zoom for your meeting, check out the “touch up my appearance” feature. It retouches the video display with a soft focus for a more polished-looking appearance. Again, you’ll want to test this out ahead of time to see if it puts your best face forward.
3. Clean Up Clutter
However you love to decorate your home office or personal space is OK for you, but it might not be a hit with the person on the other end of the virtual conference.
In a worst-case scenario, you could end up offending someone because of the decorations or artwork in the background of your meeting.
Make sure the space where you’ll be for your meeting is clean, simple and distraction-free. If there’s no such space in your house that is free of clutter with good lighting, then look into virtual background options through whatever app you’re using.
For example, the Zoom app enables you to add a virtual background to your meeting so there aren’t any questionable distractions.
4. Is This Thing On?
Sound glitches can kill a meeting. That’s why it’s crucial to test the sound before your meeting and make sure you can activate the sound quickly for your actual meeting.
If you live in a noisy area – for example, there’s construction surrounding your house, or a train goes by frequently – you may want to connect an external microphone to your computer and make sure that’s the sound input. You can get them for around $30.
Some apps, like Zoom, give you the ability to mute your microphone when you’re not speaking. This probably isn’t a practical feature when you’re being interviewed by someone, but in a group setting where others are doing the majority of the talking, it can be helpful.
You may also want to wear headphones during the interview so that you don’t provide echo feedback to other people who are talking.
Regarding sound, this is also a reminder to have someone watch your kids or pets when you have an important interview. You want to make a great impression, especially in an interview. If there’s screaming or barking during your meeting, the interviewer may come off with the impression that you’ll have that issue when you’re talking to coworkers and clients, too.
5. Treat It Like an In-Person Meeting
“Are you wearing pants?” No joke, you might be asked that someday in a virtual meeting.
Even when a meeting is virtual, you’ll want to look professional. Comb your hair, make sure your shirt is ironed and wear professional bottoms in case someone asks you to stand up. It could happen!
You’ll also want to dedicate your focus to the meeting and eliminate distractions. Turn off notifications. If your cell phone is in the room, put it on silent.
Shut down unnecessary websites so you’re not distracted by things like incoming emails. You also want to avoid accidentally screen-sharing something that’s not meeting-related, so clear off whatever’s on your desktop.
Pay attention to your body language in a meeting, too. Sit up straight and avoid hunching to exude confidence.
From beginning to end, view the virtual meeting as similarly as you would an in-person meeting. Establish rapport, smile and try to make eye contact by looking directly into the camera as you speak, instead of at the screen. You can practice these techniques in a mock test interview beforehand.
Get Interview Coaching from HiConsulting Services
If you’re going on virtual interviews, HiConsulting Services can help. We provide interview coaching and can get you up to speed on how to prepare for virtual interviews.
Contact us for a free consultation online or by calling 623-738-4470.