16 TIPS FOR ACING AN ONLINE JOB INTERVIEW

16 TIPS FOR ACING AN ONLINE JOB INTERVIEW

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16 TIPS FOR ACING AN ONLINE JOB INTERVIEW

COVID-19 has impacted a lot of things—including how we restrict face-to-face interactions. Many interviews are now taking place virtually, especially in the early stages of the talent search. While online interviews are similar to traditional, in-person meetings, they have some major differences that candidates should be prepared for.

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HOW ARE VIRTUAL JOB INTERVIEWS DIFFERENT?

If you are preparing for a job interview (and especially if you’ve interviewed in the past), you may be wondering how virtual interviews differ from in-person interviews. Job interviews have always been daunting for employees of all experience levels because they include a fast first impression and could put you on the spot to prove yourself.

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HOW ARE VIRTUAL JOB INTERVIEWS DIFFERENT?

There is an even higher chance for things to go wrong if your prospective employer wants to chat face-to-face online. Not only do you face potential connection issues or tech problems, but it can be harder to read someone virtually. You will have to change some of the things you think about during the interview. You may find the format is different as well. 

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HOW ARE VIRTUAL JOB INTERVIEWS DIFFERENT?

Depending on the type of online interview you are participating in, there are some instances where you are just recording your answers instead of conversing with a live person on the other end. This can be stressful for some candidates. Just remember that being brave enough to take the plunge and show initiative during an unfamiliar interview process is already a positive step in the right direction!

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HOW ARE VIRTUAL JOB INTERVIEWS DIFFERENT?

In this article, we provide online interview tips to aid you before, during and after a virtual call with a prospective employer.

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1. TEST THE TECHNOLOGY

Familiarize yourself with the necessary equipment and software before your interview appointment. Ask a friend or family member to do a test call so you can check video and volume and practice logging into the platform. Make sure that your microphone and speakers are working, and ensure your internet connection supports high-quality live video.

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2. DO A TEST-RUN WITH YOUR COMPUTER

In this day and age, technology can be overwhelming and with online interviews especially, you need to feel comfortable using whichever method your prospective employee prefers (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.). Once you’re comfortable with the program you’ll be using, it’s a good idea to test your internet connection as well as your audio and sound capabilities to make sure everything works properly. 

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2. DO A TEST-RUN WITH YOUR COMPUTER

Pro Tip: Before logging on, ask the interviewer what the format is. Here are a few questions to ask to make sure you’re prepared: – Is it an audio interview or both audio and video? – Is there someone on the other end of the video or are the questions pre-recorded? – If they are pre-recorded, how many chances do I get to record my answer?

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2. DO A TEST-RUN WITH YOUR COMPUTER

– What do I do or who do I call if I start having technical difficulties?

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3. FORGO VIRTUAL BACKGROUNDS

You may feel tempted to pick out a cute background on the platform, but don’t! Backgrounds are distracting and unprofessional for a first-time meeting. In fact, you want to choose the most professional area of your home for the interview—feel free to stage it just for the interview!

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3. FORGO VIRTUAL BACKGROUNDS

Pro Tip: Once you’ve identified the places that offer the best lighting, you will want to carefully examine the backgrounds to choose the best spot. Remove any clutter. Avoid odd things in the background like a bed or toilet. It may seem obvious, but sometimes people just don’t really think about the first impression their home is making.

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4. PICK THE PERFECT SPOT FOR LIGHTING

Make sure it isn’t too dark but also stay away from overhead lights during the interview, if you can. If possible, try to settle down near a window with your face towards the light. You always want to put your best foot (or in this case, face) forward!

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4. PICK THE PERFECT SPOT FOR LIGHTING

Lighting Dos: – Natural (window) light is best because it gives the best (most accurate) color. – Turn off any overhead lights if you are able to sit by a window because they will add a yellow or blue tint (depending on the kind of bulb). – Light on your face will highlight your eyes and facial features.

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4. PICK THE PERFECT SPOT FOR LIGHTING

Lighting Don’ts: – Lighting from above or behind will cause strange shadows on your face and a frizz halo out of your hair. – Lighting from behind or the side will cause a glare, making it difficult for the interviewer to see you. – Lighting from behind or the side can also cause a glare on your screen and make it hard for you to see the interviewer!

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5. REMOVE DISTRACTIONS

Silence anything that could interfere with your conversation, including your phone and email notifications on your computer. It is rude to be interrupted during an interview unless you have an emergency situation that your potential employer is already going to be aware of.

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5. REMOVE DISTRACTIONS

Pro Tip: Make sure no one else is around when you are completing your interview, including pets. Interviewers have seen cats walk across the computer screen and close the session, half-clothed people walking across the room in the background or hear children screaming in the next room. 

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5. REMOVE DISTRACTIONS

Don’t jeopardize your career by not being prepared! If you can’t ensure people aren’t going to interrupt you, it might be best to either take your interview to another location or make sure your roommates (or family) can plan to be gone for the day.

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6. SIT UP AND DRESS PROFESSIONALLY

Even though you’re not meeting your interviewer in person, make sure to dress for success and sit up straight. First impressions matter and your appearance can really make or break yours. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to smile! Whether you are talking to an actual person or recording your answers, smile the way you would during an in-person interview.

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6. SIT UP AND DRESS PROFESSIONALLY

Wear clothes that are flattering and fit the job you are interviewing for. When in doubt, dress up rather than dress down (especially for virtual interviews!). Not only will sitting up and smiling make you look more professional and engaged—they will actually help you feel more powerful and energetic!

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7. CALM YOUR NERVES

Practice your main talking points if you’re nervous and remember to slow down—it can be easy to talk over people on online calls. You may need to be slightly louder and more emphatic than you would be in person, since the screen is going to reduce a little bit of the impact you would have in person.

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7. CALM YOUR NERVES

Pro Tip: Even though this particular interview is hosted online, don’t forget to review your traditional interview skills. You’ll want to have answers prepared to some of the more common interview questions and examples in case they ask for specifics.

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8. LOG ON EARLY AND TEST SETUP

Being on time is really being about 10 minutes early. For a virtual, first-time interview, you may want to make sure you are ready to go 15-20 minutes early. If this sounds like a lot, just remember: In a normal interview, you would probably be getting ready, driving, parking and finding the right room before the interview.

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8. LOG ON EARLY AND TEST SETUP

In this situation, setting up the computer and logging in is essentially the parking part of your interview process. Make sure everything works and then you can hang out until about 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time.

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8. LOG ON EARLY AND TEST SETUP

Pro Tip: ALWAYS act like your interviewer can hear and see everything you are doing. Getting in the habit of feeling “watched” during the session will help you not do something strange because you forget people are in the room or don’t realize your camera is on. From the moment you log in until the moment you close the screen, just assume they can hear and see everything.

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9. LISTEN CAREFULLY

It’s easy to miss something important during an interview. It’s also sometimes very difficult to interrupt without an embarrassing mess of overlapping sound bytes. Avoid weird situations by jotting down keywords or short reminder phrases if you want to remember a point or circle back to ask a question. 

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9. LISTEN CAREFULLY

Try not to let your note-taking interfere with the flow of the interview. If you do miss something that was said, make sure you ask. Pro Tip: Sometimes devices have speakers that don’t get very loud. You may want to consider connecting your laptop to external speakers or even headphones to get clearer sound. 

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10. LOOK YOUR INTERVIEWER IN THE "EYE"

In the online environment, eye contact is important—even though it isn’t true eye contact. Instead of looking at the person on the screen, look directly into the webcam and stay engaged. It can be tricky to look at the camera when you see a person on the screen. But, looking at the screen will make you look like you are staring down (since screens are usually below cameras).

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10. LOOK YOUR INTERVIEWER IN THE "EYE"

If you’ve taken a selfie before, then you probably know the deal. But, somehow, video is harder. Pro Tip: If you are uncomfortable, put a picture of someone you know up by the webcam. This way, you feel as though you're chatting with a friend. If you have a webcam on a stand, you can even place it in front of the person’s face to make this a little easier.

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11. USE ENGAGED BODY LANGUAGE

Similar to the power poses, using engaged body language during the interview is going to help you answer with confidence and energy. Even if the call is just over the phone, the right posture will help you sound more friendly, open and sure of yourself.

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11. USE ENGAGED BODY LANGUAGE

On the flip side, slouching can cause you to feel tired and want to be done. Crossing your arms or your legs will look like you aren’t fully engaged and can actually cause a kind of mental block that makes it hard to really take in the information.

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12. BE YOURSELF

You want to come across as genuine and authentic during an interview. This is your opportunity to express yourself off paper. Your resume already got your foot in the door, now you get to show who you are as an individual.

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12. BE YOURSELF

Being overly stiff is a pretty common response to nerves. Try to loosen up your mindset and take cues from your interviewer. When you choose your outfit for the meeting, for example, try to dress professionally without squashing your personal style.

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13. DON'T RELY ON NOTES

While you might take a few notes of your own during the interview, don’t write down a list of things you want to say. Too many notes will be awkward and make the interview seem forced. Pro Tip: You won’t want to have detailed notes, but you will want to have a few questions jotted down so you are prepared. You may even include some stats or competitor notes that you saw in your research.

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14. WRITE DOWN 5 QUESTIONS BEFOREHAND

Prepare by doing some research on the company and industry. Try to think of five good questions that aren’t about salary or benefits (you can have those, too, but they are too easy. They don’t let the interviewer know you’ve done your homework and your serious about the job.)

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14. WRITE DOWN 5 QUESTIONS BEFOREHAND

You want to think up five in case some of them are naturally answered along the way. Most interviewers ask at the end if you have questions and having two or three questions to ask will show you’ve put thought into this.

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15. MAKE A CONNECTION

Nerves may make you naturally focus on yourself. Knowing that is probably going to be the case, make sure you pay special attention to the interviewer. Try to pick up on cues from him or her—making a personal connection over interests, hobbies or even the weather can help you start building that professional relationship.

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15. MAKE A CONNECTION

Pro Tip: Just like you thought about your background, the interviewer may have as well. You might be able to spot something of interest behind their desk. You may prefer to talk about the weather.

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16. FOLLOW UP AFTERWARD

Showing your interest and dedication can go a long way in convincing a hiring manager you are the right person for the job. While you don’t want to be aggressive, desperate or obnoxious, you don’t want to come off as passive, apathetic or lackadaisical either!

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16. FOLLOW UP AFTERWARD

Before the interview is over, ask when they will likely get back to you. If they don’t get back to you by the named day, try waiting another day or two before reaching out. Always follow up with a brief thank you a few days after the interview. Reassert how interested you are in the position and how much you appreciated their time.

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16. FOLLOW UP AFTERWARD

Pro Tip: Most of the time, sending an email is going to be the best way to connect with an employer because it is less demanding—they can read it in their free time. Keep your contact short and include how much you appreciated interviewing with them. Don’t use a generic boilerplate email. Personalize your “thank you” follow-up so that you come off as genuine.

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