In the time of COVID-19, organizations have been forced to adopt a digital approach to business communication, including throughout the interview process. However, this new digital method of assessing potential candidates can feel like uncharted territory for many executives who are more familiar with the in-person interviews. Even for those who have had virtual interviews before, it can be challenging to read the room, understand interview dynamics, and ascertain body language. Here are some tips to set yourself up for a successful and memorable virtual interview.
1. Setting Up/Environment/Tech Prep
To ensure a smooth interview process, be sure to test your technology beforehand. This includes testing audio levels, video camera function, and internet speed. It is important to be familiar with the interviewing platform to exhibit familiarity with technology and guarantee a polished interview experience.
Check your internet speed the day before at the same time of day as your interview is scheduled as some internet speeds can vary throughout the day. If possible, try to have a fixed-line rather than a wireless connection if your internet connection is not always reliable. Make sure you have a high-quality web camera as well. If using in-ear monitors or headphones, avoid gaming headsets or other devices that may come off as unprofessional.
Conduct your interview against a clean, distraction-free, and well-lit background during your conversation. This will place the focus on you as the interviewee as well as show a sense of professionalism. If using a virtual background, think carefully about your choice in the image. Having a virtual background can be useful to reinforce the image you are trying to portray to the interviewer – but it can also be disadvantageous if an undesirable, distracting, or unprofessional background is selected.
2. Pre-Interview Research
Conduct preliminary research on the company you are interviewing for. Useful information to familiarize yourself with specific information can be found through the company’s social media platforms, LinkedIn pages, and website. This can be useful material to utilize during conversation with your interviewer and exhibits interest in the position. Look for the company’s core values and try to match them against your core skills.
Look out for areas where you might not have experience and how you may respond if you do not meet that desired skill. LinkedIn can be useful in researching the interviewer themselves. It is helpful to understand a bit about their background, role, and potential common ground. It can also help shape questions you may want to ask the interviewer.
3. Interview Preparation
Practice common interview questions beforehand to ensure you are comfortable and articulate during your conversation. It is important to sound comfortable and fluid during your answers but not too memorized. Take notes on answers to common interview questions such as:
- What qualities/experiences make you qualified for in this role?
- What qualities would you bring to this company?
- What do you consider to be your most important professional achievement?
- What is your biggest weakness?
- Discuss an obstacle or challenge you encountered in a previous position and how you solved it
- How have you led your team through a digital transformation?
Preparing for these types of questions and subjects will allow you to offer a clear and confident answer during your interview. Storytelling is key – make sure you have a beginning, middle, and an end. Since the interviews are conducted over the internet, you have the luxury of having some notes with you. However, use them wisely, you don’t want break eye contact with your interviewer to consistently look down at your notes. If you decide to go into the call with notes, be sure that they are short and clear. It is also important to keep your responses concise, you may have several accomplishments that reflect your strengths, but you do not need to tell them all at once.
Dress appropriately and professionally for the position you are interviewing for, something that you would wear into the office. Position your camera at eye level and look into the camera instead of your screen reflection – this can emulate the eye contact that would occur during an in-person interview. Enthusiasm can be shown through facial expressions, where perhaps in person you would use hand gestures. 93% of communication is non-verbal, so be sure to look engaged with the interviewer and enthusiastic about the conversation. This can be exhibited through smiling, sitting up straight, and having upbeat energy.
During conversation, address each person on the call – even those who are not asking questions. Try to involve others and thank everyone (even those who didn’t speak). Include their names to build personal connections and to reference later in your “thank you” email. Respond to questions with conviction – speaking quietly and unconfidently will not translate online, where there is already an auditory disadvantage and lack of in-person interaction. You can also mirror the pace of the person interviewing you. For example, if they are asking questions slowly, you may want to take your time in your responses. Whereas, if you are being asked quick-fire questions, you want to show your ability to react quickly and think on your feet.
Listen carefully to their questions and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification to ensure a correct and thoughtful response. Be honest about yourself and your experience, but not too familiar or casual as it’s an interview.
Within 24 hours of your interview, compose a thank-you email. A concise email will be the most effective. If possible, include mention of a specific antidote that came up during interview, whether it was something notable about the company that you learned or a common interest you had with the interviewer. This will make a notable impression that will keep you in the forefront of the interviewer’s mind.
We hope you found these tips useful for your upcoming interview. If you would like more advice from us, BlueSteps is hosting a workshop on August 25 entitled “Ace Your Virtual Job Interview” which will be led by a team of executive career experts.
Reserve your spot here: www.bluesteps.com/webinar/workshop-ace-your-virtual-job-interview
If you’re a member of BlueSteps, you also have access to a team of career experts who can provide executive-level interview coaching for an additional fee. Visit www.bluesteps.com/content/executive-career-services to learn more.