Screening prospective hires online saves employers time, distance and money. The online interview gives the interviewer a chance to gauge body language, reaction time, communication skills and gain a visual impression for quickly evaluating a candidate and deciding who moves on to the next step and who does not.
Here at LLoyd, we’ve prepared this Tip Sheet to help candidates maximize the virtual interview process.
PREPARE THE TECHNOLOGY
- Preparation is essential. Looking good on-screen requires some planning. Consider your background. Look at the room. What will be behind you? Don’t let the interviewer be distracted by clutter, personal mementos, or children’s toys.
- Lighting should be in front of you, such as a lamp on a table – perhaps 6 to 8 feet from your seat. Avoid back lighting from a window or other source.
- A monitor will be in front of you, but don’t treat it as though you were about to use your keyboard; instead, sit farther back in the frame so that your upper shoulders and hands are visible.
- Hands are important because people use them to convey points in conversation and this will allow you to speak naturally.
- Be sure that the webcam meets your eyes. You don’t want the employer looking down on your head, or worse, looking up your nostrils.
- All applications on your computer should be closed, apart from the online platform you are using (Zoom, Teams, GotoMeeting, etc.) You want a fast internet connection, not one dragged down by open programs.
- Connect an Ethernet cable to your monitor instead of relying on wireless, since Ethernet is typically faster.
- Practice with a friend to test your connection.
This next tip is hard for most people – look into the camera, not the person on the screen or your own image. By doing this you will appear more confident and the interviewer will feel as though you are making eye contact and talking directly to them.
- Avoid looking at your own image on the screen and make it as minimized as possible.
- Do a mock virtual interview, the same way you would role play for the in-person version.
- Use a microphone with your computer instead of the built in one. Test the sound quality with a friend.
- Have your resume or link to your portfolio of work on your desktop ready to be sent if the interviewer requests it.
- No cutesy/clever online names or fake backgrounds. Use your regular name, it is the first thing the interviewer will see, along with your profile picture.
ON CAMERA APPEARANCE
- Dress for the interview. Wear what you would wear to the in-person interview. Don’t just dress from the waist up. Seriously. No sweats ; shorts or pajamas beneath your suit jacket. Have shoes on. It will make you more serious.
- Stay with solids, some color is okay, but avoid strips and patterns like hounds tooth.
- Have someone take a photo of you with your cell phone in the interview chair. How does your attire appear on screen? How do you look? Is there anything distracting about your outfit or surroundings?
- Blow your nose, go to the bathroom, feed your stomach, brush your teeth. All that personal housekeeping – get it out of the way.
- Ban spouses, roommates, children and pets from the interview room/area. Try to use a room where you can close/lock a door. Turn off the ringer on any phones in the vicinity. Put a “do not disturb” sign on your front door so that visitors don’t pump your doorbell.
- Put distance between you and your dog(s) to avoid loud barking, whining at the door or scratching.
- Turn off sound alerts for email, texting, etc. on your computer and don’t have your smart phone in the room with you.
- Watch your posture. Have a chair with a back so you can sit up straight.
- Your interviewer may appear distracted at times because they may have their email platform or pop-ups open on their computer. Try to keep him or her engaged and interested.
- Send a follow up thank you by email.
- Prepare yourself in advance by doing your homework on the prospective employer. Read their website, check out their brand on social media platforms, google them in the news. See if you have any connections to their company on LinkedIn.
- Smile and nod. Don’t let the stress of being “on camera” detract from you, the person. This is why practicing with a friend or family member will help you get accustomed to using this media. When you smile it can actually be heard on a phone. For webcam Skyping, put a note where you can see it that will prompt you to smile and keep a pleasant countenance.
- Never tinker with your keyboard or anything within reach.
- You should have your resume on your desk. Use it for talking points, if needed.
- Have a pen and paper within arms reach in case the interviewer gives you information to write down.
- Don’t panic if you experience a technical glitch. If you can’t hear the interviewer or sound is garbled, you should mention it. It would be better to stop and reconnect than to continue worrying that you are missing every other word.
- Your interviewer may not exhibit the same kind of courtesies you are extending. Don’t allow yourself to be disarmed by their movements or distractions. Talk to the camera as though it is a person.
- Remember to thank the interviewer for his or her time and inquire what the next step will be.
- Close with a smile and wait for the screen to go blank before getting up. Turn off the camera and mute the sound before you say or do anything!
- Practice. You will get better with every interview.