Seven Tips to Help You Prepare for a Virtual Interview

IMG_9852As technology continues to advance and employers aim to expand their job applicant pools, the virtual interview is becoming increasingly more common. Virtual interviews are quickly replacing over-the-phone or even face-to-face interviews. Whether you're using Skype or online video conferencing sites such as Zoom, WebEx, or GoToMeeting, preparation is key to ensuring your interview goes off without a hitch. Here are seven tips to make your virtual interviews go smoothly and effectively:

  1. Location, location, location - Set the stage by considering your setting. The interviewer's focus should be on you rather than a distracting background. Your background should be uncluttered, clean, and professional. Make sure the light is not projecting behind you, as it will darken your face.
  2. Noise level - Take time to prepare a quiet space. Turn off your phone and other electronics. If you're at the office, find a quiet room to use. Be sure no other programs or applications are open on your computer to avoid noisy interruptions from popups or advertisements. If you're at home, make sure to let your family know about the meeting. Give your kids a heads up that you'll be unavailable and make sure the dogs aren't in the room.
  3. Proximity - Set up your technology in advance and be aware of your proximity to the camera. Don't be too close or too far away from the camera - find your happy medium. No one wants to see every detail of your face, but if you're too far away it will look like you are yelling. A good rule of thumb - the first three buttons of your shirt should be visible.
  4. Dress to impress - Think about how your clothing will appear on camera. While it may seem unnecessary, a dress rehearsal to test your outfit on camera may be helpful. Don't wear patterns or the color white as they don't show up well on the screen. Avoid wearing the same color as your backdrop. Even if the bottom half of your outfit isn't visible onscreen, don't let it tempt you into wearing your favorite pair of sweats.
  5. Virtual eye contact - When the interviewer is speaking, look at his or her image on the computer screen. When you are responding, look directly into the camera. Avoid staring at the image of yourself on the screen or, if you can't fight the temptation, cover it with a small sheet of paper.
  6. Avoid technical difficulties- Make sure you have the right technology. If you don't have a camera already built into your computer, you can purchase one inexpensively at any of the larger office supply or computer technology chain stores. You also will need a secure, solid Internet connection. Once you have the right technology, make sure you're comfortable using it. Take time in advance to familiarize yourself with the technology. If your virtual interview is through Skype, you can practice with your family or friends.
    • Online video conferencing sites - If your virtual interview is through an online video conferencing site such as Zoom, WebEx, or GoToMeeting, follow the prompts on the web page. Most providers have an option to test your video and audio settings prior to interview time.
    • Skype - If your virtual interview is through Skype, you will need to download the Skype software onto the computer you plan to use for your interview. Click here to download to free version of Skype. Be sure to select the correct version based on whether you use Windows or Mac software. Skype will ask you to create a username and profile picture - remember to keep these professional, as they will be visible to interviewers. Click on "Echo Sound Test Service" and "Call" to test your sound settings. You can also click on "Check Settings" to ensure your microphone, speakers, webcam, and connection are all working properly.
  7. First impressions count - Finally, remember a virtual interview is a real interview and first impressions count! Be timely, be professional, and be prepared.

Preparation is key in every interview whether it's over the phone or face-to-face, but it is particularly important in a virtual interview. We all know technology can be temperamental, so calm your nerves by doing a dress rehearsal to ensure your interview goes smoothly. Most importantly, remember, you've done this before.    

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