Thanks to the recent pandemic and digital innovations, many regular processes have found their way into the digital space. Meetings that’d otherwise have been physical can now happen virtually.

Unsurprisingly, many companies now schedule interviews for job applicants online. 86% of interviewers use video calls for interviews. Your next interview session can happen right in your living room. It’s a relatively new development, and you may need help adjusting to it.

This blog will help you adjust to the requirements of a remote interview. Here, we’ll consider what to do during online interviews and things to avoid. 

How to Prepare for an Online Interview

As a career professional who’s been working for some time, you should already have previous interview experience. You should know the fundamental considerations to prepare for an interview. 

But, online interviews are more dynamic than in-person meetings. You determine the physical environment for your interview, which influences several other things. Therefore, you must prepare differently for a virtual interview to stand out during the meeting.  

The below points will guide you on pre-online interview etiquette and how to prepare for the meeting.

Anticipate Possible Questions and Prepare Your Answers

This point is arguably the number one tip on every “How to pass an online interview” post. An interview is fundamentally a Q and A session between you and the hiring managers. They attempt to understand your persona better and see if you fit their requirements.

Don’t expect things to be any different because the meeting is now online. Much of the process hasn’t changed; only the communication mediums have evolved. You still have to show up on a screen and answer the same questions you would if you were with them in person.

Appropriately research the company and role you applied for. If you have prior knowledge of the hiring manager or potential interviewers, you should study and learn about them too. 

The research should help you identify possible questions the interviewer will ask you. And then, you can prepare your best answers to the queries. You should also come up with questions you’ll ask the interviewer in return.

Most interviewers find it impressive when job applicants ask intriguing questions during interviews. It shows you’re knowledgeable and passionate about the role you’re applying for. Hence, you should also prepare interesting but relevant questions for the interviewers. 

Plan Out Your Attire

Again, most of the interview process is still the same, whether online or physical. The online interviewer will expect you to maintain the same dress code you would follow for an in-person session.

When preparing for a virtual meeting, you want to maintain the same formality you would if the session were physical. And, of course, that means you must retain the dress code from head to toe. 

You’ll likely get an urge to be less formal since you’re doing the meeting in your space. But you must ignore it. Appearing informal can send the wrong message about your professionalism to the interviewees. It doesn’t hurt to dress corporate for an hour, even if you’re not going anywhere.

Ensure your outfit looks appropriate on camera. Try it on and do a quick dress rehearsal to see what you’ll look like to the people on the other side of the screen during the interview. Why? Some attires look okay in person but weird in a video frame.

Plan Your Background

Online interviews let hiring managers see what you’re like in your personal space. During the meeting, they aren’t looking at only you; they’ll also see what you have in the background. And, of course, that will inform the impression they create about you.

Ensure the space is neat. Remove the laundry piling up in the corner of the room and the stockings by the lamppost. Don’t take the interview in a room with a lot going on in the background. It can distract the interviewers and distract them from paying attention to you.

Taking the interview in your nerd or fanboy room with all your posters on the wall is inadvisable. Instead, find a space where your backdrop won’t take the attention away from you. A plain background makes you the only interesting thing in the interviewer’s view, and it helps them focus their attention on you.

Setup Your Internet and Equipment Beforehand

The internet is the main facilitator for your online interview — the better it is, the smoother your communication with the interviwers. 

You’d also agree that a buffering signal can be annoying when watching a video online. In the same way, your interviewers will find similar interruptions displeasing.

Then again, you’ll hardly be able to put your best foot forward with a stuttering internet. So, identify what can go wrong with your internet and fix it before the interview.

Do the same for your other equipment, such as webcam, microphone, and speakers. Make sure they can hear you, and you can get their message clearly.  Familiarise yourself with the equipment and meeting medium beforehand.

For example, if it’ll be via a zoom call, ensure you know how to use the software properly before the meeting.

Do a Dress Rehearsal Multiple Times

A dress rehearsal involves practising an activity like it’s the main event. Approach it like it’s the actual interview with hiring managers.

The dress rehearsal will include everything you’ll use for the main interview. 

  • It starts with planning your background and setting up your equipment. Afterwards, you’ll dress up in your chosen attire for the interview.
  • Have an actual interview using the same videoconferencing medium the hiring managers intend to use. 
  • You can have a friend or family member be the interviewer, and they’ll ask you the questions you came up with, plus any other they feel is relevant.

The essence of the dress rehearsal is to familiarise you with the interview experience. That way, there’ll be little to no awkwardness resulting from the first-time online interview experience.

Remove Interruptions.

Aside from picking a background that won’t distract the interviewers, you should remove every element that can cause interruptions during the meeting. Ideally, you want to set up in a quiet environment where no one will disturb you.

Background noise may make it difficult to communicate effectively and receive feedback from the interviewers. To avoid that, talk to the people you share your space with to be quieter for that period.

If you have pets or children, use a space distant from them to prevent them from interrupting your meeting. If necessary, take the interview away from your home.

You must find a location where you won’t have any distractions. Ensure the background is also professionally acceptable and with good lighting. You’ll be talking a lot, so keep a bottle of water nearby.

Tips to Stand Out During a Virtual Interview 

Many people prepare for online interviews excellently but falter on the D day. Sure, you must dot the I’s, cross the T’s and do everything right in anticipation of the interview. 

You can perform below expectations during the meeting if you don’t do things right. Follow the guide below to prevent that from happening.

Approach the Online Interview As You Would a Physical Meeting

An online interview works the same as a traditional one. Observe all the protocols you would if you met with the hiring manager in person.

Only wear what you’d wear for a physical meeting. The best outfit will depend on the role and company you’re applying to. Research the organisation and employee dress code so you can attend the online interview in the appropriate attire.

Next, ensure to sign in early. You won’t leave your home for a 3:00 pm physical meeting at 2:55 pm. You shouldn’t attempt that with an online interview, either. Join early and set up properly before the meeting starts. 

As the online interview begins, observe basic etiquette, such as appropriate salutations. The typical physical interview starts with a handshake and general pleasantry exchange before getting to business. You should recreate the same for the online meeting.

To do a digital handshake, simply look directly into the camera, smile and do a slight head nod as if to say “yes”.

Pay Rapt Attention

The easiest way to fail an interview is not to pay attention to the interviewers. This indicates you’re not interested in whatever they’re saying and, by extension, the role. 

Additionally, you’ll miss most of what the interviewers communicate to you when you aren’t paying attention. You’ll misunderstand questions and give inappropriate answers. 

Then again, even if you give the correct answers, the interviewers may note any sign of unattentiveness as irresponsible behaviour. 

  • Paying full attention shows you want the role and will take whatever chance you get to land the job.
  • Paying attention can also help you stay calm. It helps you focus on what the interviewers are saying and keep your mind together, which may cause you to falter.

Please remove all distractions from your environment beforehand and keep your eyes on the interviewers during the meeting. If possible, put your phone away so you won’t get the urge to operate it during the interview. 

Mind Your Body Language

A major advantage of remote interviews is you won’t have to worry about most of the non-verbal examinations interviewers do on applicants. For example, no one will measure how firm your handshake was or whether you waited for the interviewer to invite you to take a sit.

However, that doesn’t mean you can get complacent about your body language. For example, your sitting posture tells a lot about how attentive and interested you’re in the discussion. 

  • Sit up straight, smile, and keep your eyes on the screen as much as possible.
  • Use small hand gestures for illustrations and nod your head to indicate agreement.
  • Your facial gestures will also convey a lot of information and create assumptions in the interviewers. So, make sure they send out the right message. 
  • Avoid being so static that the interviewer thinks you’re frozen. 

Manage Interruptions When/If They Happen

You should implement measures to prevent interruptions and distractions during the online interview. 

  • If you can, take the meeting where you control other people’s access to you. And inform those sharing the space with you that they shouldn’t disturb you. 
  • Before you settle down for the interview, check your space for any unexpected element that might cause interruptions.
  • Ensure to turn off your phone or other devices that may make noise. 
  • Don’t forget to mute all computer notifications as well. 

However, interruptions may still occur from things out of your control, even with your best preparations. For example, an unexpected construction project in your community may generate noise. 

In such cases, quickly notify the interviewer at the beginning of the meeting and let them know you weren’t expecting it. 

Conversely, if you have an interruptive situation that’s within your control, do your best to manage it quickly. For example, your dog may start barking all of a sudden. In that case, excuse yourself politely to go see what’s wrong. 

But, if it seems the interviewers will not appreciate you leaving the meeting, then take it in your stride and continue with the interview.

Explain Long Pauses

Long pauses, especially after an interviewer asks you questions, don’t make good impressions. It may cause the interviewer to think you’ve broken off from the conversation. 

It’s best to avoid long pauses altogether and try to reply to all queries as quickly as possible.

If there’s a pause, give a good reason for it. For example, you could tell the interviewer you were noting down what they said, trying to pull a piece of information or any other professional excuse you can think of. 

You’ll give the impression that you’re attentive and no technical glitches have occurred. 

What to Avoid During a Virtual Interview

Despite your best efforts and intentions, a few mistakes can undermine everything you do in a virtual interview. You want to prevent those as much as you can. 

Let’s quickly look at what you should avoid during virtual interviews and why.

Connecting to the Meeting At the Last Minute

Ensure you’re ready for the meeting before the interviewers. Depending on the videoconferencing platform the interviewers choose, you may be able to initiate the call from your end. If that’s possible, please do; getting there early shows punctuality.

Coming in early allows you to settle down properly before the meeting begins. It helps you calm your nerves and collect your thoughts as the interview starts.

Using a Poorly Lit Environment

In a traditional interview, the environment is out of your control. You don’t determine the environmental conditions for the interview and won’t have to worry about the lighting or if the place is messy. However, in this case, it all falls on your lap.

The most important consideration is ensuring the interviewer can see and hear you clearly. Set up in a well-lit environment. You should also check the lighting before the interview starts to ensure everything works properly. 

Eating During the Interview

You get to feel very comfortable when taking an interview from your home. You won’t have to worry about an intimidating vibe from your interviewers. However, never get so comfortable that you bring a dessert to an interview. 

Eating during an interview is unprofessional; you wouldn’t do it in a physical meeting. Don’t do it in a virtual discussion with recruiters, either.

You’d agree that it won’t look good if the interviewer throws a question at you while you’re eating a chunk of cake. They’ll have to wait for you to swallow the food and catch your breath before replying. Plus, there’s a chance you might spill the food and create a mess. 

Understandably, you may need some water if you’re set for a lengthy interview. But most interviews don’t take more than an hour, and you should be able to survive that long without water or food. 

Relying Heavily on Notes

Interviewers don’t expect you to use notes during an interview. You certainly won’t have that luxury in a physical meeting. However, in a virtual discussion, you can discreetly use the notes without the interviewer knowing.

But people often rely heavily on their notes to the point that they look like they’re reading from a teleprompter. It often becomes evident to the interviewers at that point, putting them in a bad light.

The essence of notes is to help you remember details that may skip your mind during your presentation. So, use them only as reminders of the points you want to discuss. 

An excellent strategy to use notes discreetly is to write down the points on post-it notes and stick them to your laptop beside the camera. That way, when you’re looking at it, it seems you’re looking directly into the camera. Do be careful, so the note doesn’t block the camera.

Talking Too Fast

Interviews are fundamentally HR personnel having a direct real-time conversation with a job applicant about their application. 

Both sides are communicating and sharing information. And for the correspondence to be efficient, both sides must understand each other.

Communicate so interviewers can easily catch your words. What you say and how you say it will determine whether you pass an online interview. 

  • You may have to speak slowly to ensure interviewers get you clearly. But it’s not about how much you say; it’s how well you say it.
  • You want to avoid pauses too. However, don’t be too eager to fill up every slight break in the conversation. 
  • Take a breath or two before answering questions, and talk clearly. It shows the interviewer you’re thinking carefully before answering. 

Ace Your Next Online Interview and Score that Dream Job

An online interview is pretty much like a physical one, except you’re not in the same room with the interviewers. 

The questions won’t be different, and the interviewers will likely grade you by the same metrics. Most of the usual prep steps for traditional interviews will work for online meetings too.

It’s easier to ace online interviews with an excellent CV that tells half the story of your expertise and experience. The CV Expert has experienced writers who will deliver top-quality leadership or executive CV in a few short days. 

Call 020 8242 4287 to book our CV writing services today. 

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