Given today's realities of COVID-19-related changes, such as travel restrictions, work from home requirements and physical distancing, the job interview process often has to be conducted remotely via video.
So as a job seeker, you have to deal with regular pressure of a job interview plus the additional consideration of remote/virtual technology. Here are 12 tips to get you prepared:
1. Bandwidth matters
Video conferencing uses a lot of internet bandwidth. If possible, ensure that during your interview, no one else in the house is using internet-hungry applications like gaming or video streaming.
On your own computer, turn off memory hungry applications such as your browser, email, Office programs, etc.
A bonus would be if you could connect to the internet via an ethernet cable directly, i.e. "hard wire" to the internet. This should give you a more stable consistent connection than relying on the Wi-Fi in your house.
2. Audio matters
Make sure your microphone and speakers work well. Your mic should convey your voice clearly and crisply. If your computer mic is not adequate, get an external microphone that connects to your computer.
Also beware of background noise that your mic may pick up. Set up your interview space as a “quiet zone” during the interview. Turn off any notifications from devices in the room such as phones, home communication devices like Alexa, alarm clocks, etc.
If you’re not able to close the door to the interview space, at least cordon it off and let the other members of the household know that you need quiet in that zone.
3. Background matters
It's ok if your backdrop is your bookshelf, a wall or door, etc., as long as it is professional and not distracting. If you don't have a good background, you could put up a clean, unwrinkled, solid color sheet behind you like a screen.
(And if you decide to try using Zoom's virtual background option, test it out first to see how it looks, especially if you don’t have a green screen.)
4. Lighting matters
Your room light may or may not be enough to light you for video. You should be well lit with minimal shadow. Position a diffused light behind the camera – move the light around until you get the best location.
5. Video matters
Your laptop or computer camera may be good enough to convey high quality video. Otherwise, invest in an external USB camera. Place the camera at eye level or slightly above (if need be, place your laptop on a pile of books to get it at the right height).
6. Test everything
Test the bandwidth, audio, video, lighting and all technology well in advance of your interview so there are no surprises. Figure out how to mute/unmute your audio, turn your camera on and off, use the specific platform whether it's Zoom, WebEx, etc. If possible, test at the same time of day as your interview so you get a more realistic test of internet traffic and lighting. And never rely on your computer’s battery to carry you through the interview; always plug in.
In addition to testing everything, you also need to practice as you would for an in-person interview. If you know the job description and a little about the industry, you can predict at least 80% of the questions you will be asked so practice your responses to those questions.
Practice answering those questions out loud, ideally via video connection - have a friend set up a video connection and pretend to interview you. Why practice out loud? Because thinking about the answers in your head is not the same as saying them out loud.
The good news with a video interview is that you can use notes. Place them strategically around your monitor so you don't have to keep looking down and make sure you have them ready during your practice session.
(And if you plan to take notes during the interview, simulate that during your practice session also, so you don’t end up looking down at your notes all the time).
8. Practice good interview etiquette
As you would for an in-person interview, make sure you are well groomed: take a shower, comb your hair, dress appropriately especially from the waist up! Not only does this show respect to the interviewer but it also helps to get you into "professional interview mode."
Show up early for the interview so you’re not rushed and can deal with any log-in issues.
Find out who will be interviewing you so you can look them up ahead of time so you know something about them, just like you would in person.
9. Facial expressions matter
Be aware of what message your face is communicating, especially when you are listening to questions -- do you look bored, angry, distracted? You should look engaged, relaxed and interested. Practice this on video.
Also make eye contact with the interviewer(s). To do so, look into the camera, not at your own picture -- if need be, position the video application window on your screen close to your video camera so it is easier to look into the camera.
10. Find out if you will be recorded
While it is not usual to record job interviews, since the video technology has that function, it is a possibility. And it’s best for you to know ahead of time if the interviewer plans to record rather than being surprised if the red “record” button suddenly lights up at the start of the interview.
11. Be prepared for the unexpected
Have a Plan B or C. What will you do if for whatever reason, the connection breaks down, or the video or audio are not clear? Make sure you have exchanged cell phone numbers with the interviewer so you can connect if the video interview falls apart
12. Stay calm, positive and relaxed
A job interview can be stressful in itself. You need to stay focused on connecting with your interviewer and sharing your relevant experience and qualifications for the job.
If something goes wrong with the technology or the interview is interrupted for whatever reason, stay calm, keep a good sense of humor, address the issue and keep moving forward. Not only will you save the interview, but you will also be demonstrating an important job skill – staying calm under pressure!
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© Gilda Bonanno LLC -- Gilda Bonanno serves as a trusted advisor to executives and entrepreneurs to transform their communication and leadership skills. She has worked with companies on 4 continents, from Chicago to Shanghai and Rio to Rome. The instructional videos on her YouTube channel have received over 2 million views and her e-newsletter has reached subscribers in 45+ countries since 2008.