Virtual Job Interviews: 10 Rules for the COVID Job Search
Virtual job interviews were not the primary form of finding candidates for open positions before COVID-19. Yes, they were in use as part of the process, but you usually had to meet with the company brass in-person before you could hope to get an offer.
That all changed in April 2020 when it became apparent that the end of the pandemic and constant quarantining was not in sight. Now it’s very likely that you could live or die, in a professional sense, by how you perform in virtual job interviews. There is no better time than the present to learn what it takes to succeed. Master these skills while you’re still in college, and you will have a leg up on the competition. Let’s begin!
1. Yes, Still Get Dressed
There is a feeling that you don’t have to dress up, or at least dress up completely, to attend a virtual job interview. What need is there for pants when they’re only going to be seeing the upper half of your body, right? It might even be a fun little game to see what you can get away with wearing below the waist as you wax eloquent about what an asset you’d be to their company.
That thought loses its luster, however, when you consider the people interviewing you may not be wearing any pants either! Okay, we’re being tongue-in-cheek here, but it stands to reason that a job is a serious thing, so you need to treat the interview like it’s serious as well. People tend to think more clearly and perform better at assigned tasks when they dress professionally. Job interviews are part of that. If you show up in professional attire, head to toe and yes even the shoes, you’ll exude a more businesslike and competent demeanor for the people ultimately hiring you.
2. Posture Is Also Important
It’s all about putting your best foot forward and demonstrating to the people conducting the interview that you belong in their company. That you will be a valuable asset. That they’d be absolutely crazy not to hire you.
In much the same way that you get this point across through a confident posture during an in-person meeting, the same will hold true virtually. As you sit in your desk chair, make sure your back is straight and shoulders are back.
3. Eye Contact Works a Little Differently
Eye contact is still important, even in a virtual job interview. That said, it will work a little differently because they will not be in the same room as you. Instead, they’ll be looking into a monitor like yours. And as far as that monitor is concerned, the web camera is the eyeball.
Fix your concentration on the web camera, and it will translate to direct eye contact on the other side. The appearance of strong eye contact will go far in convincing the interviewers that you know what you’re talking about and that you have the confidence to back up what you’re promising.
4. Mind Your Environment
Ah, this is an important one we often don’t look at until the last minute. A word of advice: when in doubt, move it out. Don’t cutesy up the walls behind you with conversation pieces. You’re there to convince these people you’re the right person for the job, and you don’t want to risk all that on your taste in music or the opposite sex.
If you do have posters on the wall, take them down temporarily until the interview is over. Try to remove all distractions from the background of your work area. Not only will this protect you from unknown prejudices the interviewers may have, it will keep them from getting distracted from your qualities as a candidate.
5. Use Tools Like Zoom to Your Advantage
Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, FaceTime: there are many apps out there that could come into play when you take part in a virtual job interview. As soon as you find out what app you’re using, get comfortable with it if you’re not already. Also, take advantage of some of the features, such as recording a video conference for later playback. This will show you in no uncertain terms what you look and sound like over video (i.e., what your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities are).
6. Focus On Why You Are the Best Person for the Job
Virtual or in-person, one thing will never change. That’s the fact that you have a short amount of time to make yourself stand out from possibly hundreds of other candidates. In so doing, you tell the company why you’re the best candidate for the position. But you can’t do that if you haven’t first done your homework.
So, like you would for an in-person interview, research the company and the position itself. See where the position fits into the bigger whole. Break down the job description piece-by-piece and note each of the qualities that you possess. For those where you’re lacking, practice addressing those weak areas in a way that edifies your strengths and convinces the interviewer that you’re capable of anything.
7. Have a Plan for Technical Difficulties
Virtual job interviews will always be subject to problems that you won’t encounter during an in-person interview. For starters, you can tell much from a person’s handshake, but handshakes aren’t happening in this environment. Another biggie: technical difficulties.
You could have the power go out during an in-person interview and still be able to answer each question to the best of your abilities. But if your WiFi or computer craps out — or the interviewer’s does — you can’t very well go on with the show. So, it might be a good idea to address your fears of technical difficulties ahead of time by asking the interviewer what the plan is should anything happen during the interview to sever the connection. He’ll appreciate your proactive nature.
8. Follow the Rule of Being Early
Yes, you may have to sit there looking at the screen that says your host will invite you in shortly, but it’s better to get in and test everything out first. You never know when your computer might act up and require a mandatory reboot right as the interview is about to start. Don’t take that chance. Take care of business by making sure your hardware, software, and WiFi are operational. If you experience any issues logging on, you can then reach out by phone and perhaps find another way of conducting the interview or rescheduling it.
9. Nail That Interview
The day will eventually come when it’s just you and the interviewer(s). At that moment, there is no virtual environment. There is no “real world” environment. There are only you and the questions. Do your best to focus on content in these moments instead of accents. As long as you do that, you’ll be able to convey your expertise and personality in a way that is attractive enough to advance to the next stage of the process.
10. Follow Up Like a Champ
The follow-up is something way too many interviewees overlook. So often, job interviewers have the tall order of narrowing hundreds of applicants down to just one. That means there is a lot of room for malleability and seldom is there just one pick for the position. That’s good news because it means you can still have a shot at the job even if you don’t have the best interview from the crop of candidates.
You simply have to make yourself known in a professional manner and let the interviewers know you want the position whether it’s now or later. In other words, you’re not going away. You appreciate the time you got to meet with them. You value the experience even if they go another direction. You’re grateful for the opportunity and will continue to pursue positions in the future. That kind of consistency will get you noticed.
Virtual Job Interviews May Follow a Different Format, But You Got This!
You might not have gotten to experience the joy of virtual job interviews yet, but it’s almost certainly in your future. As long as society is made to socially distance and wear masks in public, this will be a valuable alternative for companies seeking qualified candidates. It’s your job to adapt your skills and understanding to this new virtual environment. Are you ready for the task?
If you have experience with virtual job interviews, we’d like to invite you to share some of those in the comments section below. What were some tips or missteps that you’d like others to learn from?
[Featured Image by Wikipedia Commons]