For many of us, preparing for an interview can be a stress-inducing period and an added layer of the interview being conducted online can feel like additional pressure for everything to run smoothly. The COVID-19 era forces us to adapt to the new normal of job interviews being conducted online which might require a different kind of preparation.
Of course, technology is notorious for malfunctioning at the most inconvenient times. This means that online interviews can present a challenge to the jobseeker, given the endless possible technology glitches. For other job seekers, online interviews can be a positive element as it saves travel time, and can be less stressful than interviewing in person.
Irrespective of personal preference, due to the digital era we find ourselves in, chances are that you will need tips on how to tackle both. The common dominator is preparation. Although online and in-person interviews are slightly different, preparation effort is equally important if not more. You need to approach both with an equal amount of preparation as your interview could get you to the next round or even a job offer.
Here’s how to get ready for an online interview:
1. Download the software ahead of time
This is the most critical step. Whether your interview will be conducted via Zoom, Skype, Microsoft teams or Google hangout, make sure to download the programme days before the interview. This also leaves time for you to familiarise yourself with the necessary tools.
2. Schedule a mock interview with a friend on how to use the programme
Preparation, preparation, and preparation! Practice on how to navigate the software in which you will be interviewed before the interview, to ensure that everything is in working order and that you’re comfortable interviewing on video. If for instance, you use zoom, you can create a meeting link and see if you know you to navigate the necessary functions. You can do this through an interview with a friend and check things like audio, muting and unmuting, sharing your screen for presentation and turning the video on, etc.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to use the chat function, in case you come across any technology glitches and need to communicate this with your interviewer(s).
3. Have a professional username
This might seem quite minuscule but how you represent yourself will be important. Preferably, you should stick to the name on your CV. If for whatever reason that is beyond your control, you will be using someone else’s login details that might have a different name, you can inform the interviewer before your meeting
1. Declutter the space around you
Unlike in-person interviews, there are higher chances of distractions during online interviews. Make sure you clean the space around you so that unnecessary clutter doesn’t show up on your screen. This includes paying extra attention to your background and ensuring that it’s as plain as possible.
The aim is to minimise any kind of visual or audible noise that might distract both the interviewer and interviewee. Another key thing is that you never want to create the impression that the disorganised space is a reflection of how you would perform as an employee.
2. Dress professionally
Even though you might be sitting down or are at home, you still need to dress professionally. This includes professional pants and shoes as you never know when you might be required to stand up and fix something. Dressing professionally can also be a good mental contribution to making you feel prepared and getting your head in the game.
3. Keep your CV, pen and paper next to you
Always keep a copy of your CV in case you need to refer to any questions regarding previous jobs, titles, dates, or numbers. The last thing you want to do is scramble through your emails during an interview which is often pressed for time. The same is applicable for wanting to jot down important notes and questions. You do not want to be running around at the last minute for a pen and paper.
This might come as a surprise to some of you, but chances are that the interviewer(s) is just as nervous. Technically, you’re both strangers and are about to e-meet each other for the first time so do not let your nerves be your downfall during an interview. Try finding healthy coping mechanisms such as practicing mindfulness and slow breathing before the meeting call to help reduce anxiety and remain calm.
Do not panic if you encounter glitches, especially if the issue is out of your control such as poor internet connection, the interviewer(s) should understand. Instead, think of other ways to transition the interview such as a phonecall or rescheduling to another time.
2. Eye contact – look at the camera and not the screen
The aim is to behave as if you were in a regular, in-person interview. So pretend the camera is the interviewer’s face, focus, listen attentively and engage with your interviewer(s). The point of looking at the camera is to create some form “eye contact”.
It is advisable to prepare your interviewing technique as well. Practice how to speak slowly and clearly so that you do not speak over anyone. Softwares like Microsft teams have the “raise your hand” control and you can make use of such tools as well.
The key to a successful online interview is simply preparing thoroughly ahead of time and having a backup plan should things not go accordingly. If you’re uncomfortable with the technology or how you look/sound on camera, the best you can do is practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the better you’ll get with not only online conferencing technology but the art of interviewing, too!