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11 Steps to Owning a Virtual Interview

As we slowly reopen after 60 plus days of COVID-19 quarantine, we face a new world. Some things will never be the same—some for better others for worse. One of the positive takeaways from all this is that businesses are learning that not every interaction needs to be face-to-face. And one of those is the interview process, but how do you go about owning a virtual interview?

For many years established organizations have used telephone interviews for the initial or qualifying job interview. Others have stayed with in-office interviews. I understand this. When I was conducting interviews, I was never a big fan of phone interviews. I wanted to see the person, watch their body language, and see how they dressed. None of which can be done over the phone. However, it can be done virtually.

I believe the virtual interview will become a standard part of the interview process long after the pandemic is gone. With that in mind, preparedness is critical.

11 Steps to Owning a Virtual Interview

Be prepared

This is no different than being prepared for an in-person interview. Research the company. Know what the job expectations are and be able to talk intelligently about it.

Also, prepare yourself for interview questions. Here are a few of the most common questions. -- 27 Most Common Job Interview Questions and Answers

And finally, part of your preparation is knowing what you will ask the interviewer. Here are some meaningful questions. Glass door -- 8 Questions You Should Absolutely Ask an Interviewer

Test Your Equipment

Regardless of the app used for the virtual meeting, you should try it before the interview. If nothing else, sign up for a Zoom or Goggle Meeting account and try it on for size. Take it for a test drive. Chat with a friend.

Dress Appropriately

Even if you think no one will see your PJ bottoms, don’t do it. What if, heaven forbid, you get up to get something? And besides, clothes change how we feel about ourselves, for example, put on the gardening clothes and you’re ready for yard work, wear professional garb and you feel professional.

Limit Distractions

I recently talked about how important this is during a virtual meeting, when a friend asked me to tell that to her one and four-year-old daughters. So, yes, it can be difficult, but do your best to pick a time and place where distractions are limited and let others know you’re on DND (do not disturb)!

Frame Your Image

Focus the screen on your head and shoulders, not the top of your head or your entire torso, as seen from 10 feet away. Think, professional headshot when setting up your image.

Avoid busy backgrounds. I like to show my bookcase behind me in friendly meetings, but I wouldn’t in a virtual interview. It’s much too distracting. I’m sure I’m not the only one who tries to see what others are reading.

And …lighting is critical. Be sure the lighting is in front of you, not behind. I turn off the overhead light in my office and then point a desk lamp, which sits in front of me, in my direction.

Make Eye Contact

So, how do you make virtual eye contact? It’s simple. Concentrate on looking at the lens. Do not look at your image, others in the meeting, or across the room. Keep your eyes on the prize – the camera.

Make a Personal Connection

This isn’t always possible, but listen and look. For example, if you notice a family photo, ask about it. If the interviewer mentions where they attended school – ask a couple of questions about school. Like I said, it doesn’t always open up, but if it does, be ready. It’s easier to dismiss you if you’re just number and more difficult if you make a human connection.

No Task Switching

Do not stop and look at your phone, turn and look at your calendar, or take time away to check … whatever. Stay focused on the interview. There is nothing more important than the interview. A lack of focus is not a good message to send.

Speak Clearly with Confidence

Speak in a strong and clear voice. Don’t shout but speak to be heard and speak with confidence. You sound confident when you use lowered inflection. What is lowered inflection? Think of a sheet of music where the notes start high and descend. When you speak with lowered inflection, you sound confident. The opposite, rising inflection (upspeak) sounds unsure, questioning, and shows a lack of confidence.

Be Aware of Your Body Language

For example, crossing your arms can be a sign of defensiveness, touching your mouth as you speak might be taken as you’re holding something back. Look into the lens, keep your shoulders straight, posture up no slouching, and smile. Yes, smile. Business Insider -- 12 body language tips to use during an interview.

Follow Up

Ask the interviewer what the best method of follow up is, and then as soon as the interview is over – follow up.

Are You Ready to Own a Virtual Interview?

It’s not that difficult. So, don’t make it harder than it is. Prepare just as you would for an in-person interview, limit distractions, present a good image, and then follow up. If you’d like advice, be sure to reach out to us.

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