Returning to in-person job interviews is still several months away. This means that if you are lucky enough to snag an interview, it will likely take place online and you will need to prepare accordingly. Without question, you will still need to engage in all the advance prep work of envisioning questions and formulating (and practicing!) your answers. But you will also have the added element of planning for and presenting your best professional self via an online format.
In addition, preparing for the mostly remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities, your adaptability, as well as your online poise.
Use these tips to find ways to make a video conference interview work in your favor.
Primp to project your professionalism.
Essentially, you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up. But realize that this also means your face and torso will be front and center throughout the interview. To make a good impression, you must present yourself as well-groomed and well put together. Your clothes should be pressed and spot-free. Stay away from busy, distracting patterns and dress in colors that compliment your coloring. While COVID has kept us away from haircuts (and color), do your best to look coifed.
Polish your performance skills.
One of the limitations of video conferencing is the once-removed nature of appearing on as a head on a screen. To compensate, you must consciously boost your energy — especially if you are more reticent in nature. Show that you’re engaged in the discussion by maintaining eye contact and occasionally nodding. Make your voice as upbeat as possible and feel free to gesticulate. Sit up tall and be sure to smile often. Have your talking points at the ready, and be careful not to ramble on as long virtual sessions can easily become tiresome.
Pay close attention to set design.
The visual elements that will appear onscreen in your interview should be intended to give your interviewer a sense of your home office setting. Think like a set designer in staging your background — and this doesn’t mean a faux background enabled by the video conferencing platform. Make it authentic, while ensuring your workspace looks clean and uncluttered. It should also be a well-lit area free from noise.
Light yourself to put your best face forward.
Is there a window behind you? If so, you will likely be shrouded in darkness. Play with spotlights, re-chargeable lights or circle lights until you find the most professional combination. Do a practice run with your best friend on Zoom to make sure you’re well lit, but not washed out. (Also, have an extra light or two in case your batteries decide to blip during the interview.)
Use the online meeting platform to your advantage.
Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview so that you can exhibit your prowess with video conferencing. Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project — while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.
Prepare to tout your digital expertise.
Know that if you are chosen for the position, you can likely expect that any onboarding and initial months on the job will take place virtually. The way you handle yourself in the online interview will say much about your ability to handle remote work efficiently. Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience accessing and managing file sharing, your knowledge of any project management programs, and your personal time-management protocols.
Plan for any glitches.
Murphy’s Law states that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work. What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it. Your Internet connection may not be robust. Your headphones may blip out or your cellphone may ring. Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.
Do a trial run.
Always do a practice session (or two or three) before your interview. Set up your phone to frame you and your background and video yourself answering questions. Or, find someone willing to critique you on a practice Zoom, Microsoft Teams or other video conferencing platform. Make sure your white shirt doesn’t blandly blend in with the white wall behind you. Check that you appear animated in both your voice and body language. This way, you can make any necessary adjustments before the actual showtime.
This guest post was authored by Vicky Oliver
Vicky is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including Live Like a Millionaire (Without Having to Be One) (Skyhorse, 2015). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 901 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets. For more information, visit vickyoliver.com.
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