4 Tips For Acing Virtual Interviews
Many of us have been there. You’ve got an important job interview scheduled to be conducted via Skype. You’re dressed for the part, in your home office with nothing embarrassing on the walls behind you, prepared to do your best. And then your dancing toddler saunters in, followed by a startlingly fast baby, and before you know it your interview has gone viral. However carefully you’d prepared your answer to the interviewer’s question on your work history, the moment has been lost.
Alright, so most of us haven’t had a Skype experience quite as embarrassing as the hapless BBC Dad Professor Kelly, but his predicament does highlight how tricky it can be to work remotely. Video conferencing is a great tool that allows employers to conduct interviews with applicants, and managers to conduct business meetings with a far flung team. In fact, research suggests that the number of first interviews being conducted virtually has doubled in the past year alone.
Here are our top four tips for making sure your next video call goes off without a hitch – we’re assuming you’ve already remembered to lock your door!
1. Make sure your back drop is professional
Your interlocutor can’t just see you, they can see the room you’re in. Sometimes, when we’re used to seeing our own spaces, it can be difficult to pick out the untidy aspects – just as it is difficult to pick one’s own typos. Stand back and look at the room with fresh eyes: is there clutter? What’s on the wall behind you? Consider taking down that framed shot of you and your friends on your 21st, or the collage of children’s drawings, and putting up something neutral that doesn’t distract. A blank wall is fine.
Sound proofing is also important, so make sure your windows are shut as well as the door.
2. Make sure your outfit is professional
You may be at home, but you still need to dress as if you’re in the office. Approach your outfit exactly as you would if you were conducting the interview face to face, with excellent grooming, work appropriate clothes and neat hair. Tempting as it is to keep your pyjama bottoms on, do make sure you’re in business clothes from top to toe: it’ll show in your demeanour, and avoid embarrassment if you have to stand up and fetch something during the conversation!
3. Test your connection
Technical glitches happen to all of us, but try and prevent it happening this time by doing a dry run. Call a friend using the interface you’ll be using and ask them to confirm that they can hear you loud and clear. Make sure your internet connection is strong and reliable – if it cuts out, try moving closer to your router.
Bear in mind that if you’re interviewing from a remote location, your success will not only determine whether you get the job, but it will help make your case for working remotely. A conversation filled with technical glitches doesn’t just make you look bad, it puts your potential employer off the idea of hiring someone who can work from home. A bit of effort upfront can pay dividends in flexible working arrangements later.
4. Maintain eye contact
Try and remember to look into the web camera, not your screen. This takes a little practice, as one’s instinct is to look at the person you’re talking to, but it makes a huge difference. Being remote means that you can’t shake the other person’s hand as you usually would, so visual body language is even more important. Nod and smile as ways of showing that you’re listening and taking in what’s being said.
What do you think?
Have you ever participated in a virtual interview, either as the employers preferred communication method or due to distance? Tell us your best tips – and your horror stories – in the comments!
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Koru, Inc, The Telegraph and CNN.
Photo credit: BravoTV