Preparing for a Virtual Interview
February 21, 2018
My daughter is preparing for a job interview this week. The company is headquartered in New York City and she is currently attending college overseas, which means her interview will be virtual. While virtual interviews allow people to interview for positions across the globe, they also present challenges that face-to-face interviews do not.
Talking to a computer screen can be difficult – especially if virtual communication is not something you do on a regular basis. Here are a few tips to consider when preparing for a virtual interview:
- Eye contact is key. You naturally want to look at the faces of the other participants as we talk, but you have to look at the camera, which is located at the top of the screen, above the head of the person on the screen. When you look at the people, you will appear to be looking down. A great way to help you look at the camera is to place a colorful sticky note next to the camera to keep drawing your eye to the camera and away from the computer screen.
- Tape key points you want to make on a wall behind the computer (but close in line with the camera) so you don’t lose focus.
- Remember BBC interview when the man's child appears, then we see the children being pulled out of the the room – avoid interrupts like that. Barking dogs, children, poor internet connections, etc. will make you look unprofessional.
- Be prepared for technology issues, i.e. have the interviewer’s phone number handy in case you do lose your internet connection, you have a computer glitch, or the communication platform suddenly fails.
Before the interview, scan the room where you will set up. Consider what the other interviewers will see in the background. Posters of bikini-clad women would likely not be a good idea, nor would a pile of dirty dishes, or tons of clutter. Make sure the space is neat and simple, free of distracting objects and art, etc.
- Interrupting is never good, but keep in mind there is sometimes a delay in audio, so be patient and let the other participants fully finish their thoughts before you begin to speak.
Remove jewelry that will bang against the desk and could create a sharp noise for the other participants.
Remember, you must be 100% professional (even if you are secretly wearing PJ bottoms), don’t slouch, speak clearly, take notes so you want to remember to go back and address something that came up or ask a specific question.
Unlike a face-to-face interview, if this is a panel interview, you won’t have the opportunity to get the business cards from the interviewers, so make sure you have their names. This will allow you to look up their contact information so you can send them a follow-up thank you note within 24 hours of the interview.
Virtual interviews can open possibilities that might not otherwise have existed, but they do present challenges. Don’t shy away from them because of the challenges; instead, be open to the possibilities. And like a face-to-face interview, do the required preparation.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department Head of Graduate Studies