How To Differentiate Yourself: A Candidate’s Guide To Virtual Interviews

As companies lean into a new normal of working from home and operating in a more virtual manner, job seekers are now preparing for video interviews instead of onsite visits. Rather than perfecting a firm handshake, candidates must pivot their focus toward improving their virtual etiquette and making a good first impression across the screen.

To prepare candidates for this virtual experience we’ve collected tips and tricks from our own hiring managers and have developed an etiquette guide to help you put your best virtual foot forward in the interview.

Download the video conference software before the interview:

  • Sort out which device you will be using for the interview, whether that’s your computer or phone, and download the correct software ahead of time. You don’t want to get caught fumbling minutes before the interview attempting to sort out your tech and potentially run late to the interview or give off a poor first impression.

early:

  • Just as you would arrive 10-15 minutes early to an on-site interview, sign-in to the conference line or video call a few minutes early. This will also help you head off any technical difficulties or connection issues. Also, be sure to have your interviewer contact information on hand and/or a back-up tech plan should issues arise.

Practice. Practice. Practice: 

  • Practice using the video conferencing tool that the company has set up for your interview so you’re not messing around trying to get the camera or sound working.

  • Practice mock interviews with a friend or family member and ask their feedback on the sound and video quality.

  • You may also want to invest in a webcam if your laptop camera won’t suffice and make sure to use a quality pair of headphones that don’t pick up on too much background noise.

Backdrop and environment:

  • Be mindful of what the interviewer can see behind you. It may be worth exploring the options in your space that offer the best lighting and a clean backdrop ie. no clutter, unmade beds or high traffic areas where housemates or family will be walking by.

  • Where possible avoid sitting on your bed or couch as this will come off as unprofessional.

  • Also, remember to clear your desktop. If you are having to switch screens between the camera and presentations – it’s best to ensure that you don’t have a lot of personal tabs open.

Dress professionally: 

  • While you are not meeting in person, it is still important to give off a positive first impression, which includes dressing just as professionally as you would if you were going on site.

  • Dressing for the occasion will also help boost your confidence! And do remember to wear pants…you want to be prepared in case you have to stand up or move around.

Body language and facial expressions: 

  • Video interviews unfortunately mean that candidates and hiring managers lack the benefit of a face-to-face interaction, but you still have the opportunity to impress your interviewer with professional mannerisms, confidence through good posture, a smile and overall attentiveness.

  • Eye contact is also key – stay focused and try to maintain good eye contact. Avoid gazing beyond the camera, yawning, fidgeting, or speaking too much with your hands. All of this can be quite distracting for the interviewer.

Pace and tone of voice:

  • If this is your first time using a video conference line, you’ll soon realize that there tends to be a voice delay. Be mindful of your pacing and SLOW DOWN. Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions and mirror back the question to ensure you heard them correctly. While it may seem awkward at first, take a pause after each question and answer to ensure neither of you are interrupting each other.

Now that you’re well prepared and practiced up, it’s time to truly differentiate yourself and land the job! Unfortunately for some, virtual interviews can make it difficult to read your interviewer’s body language and vice versa so how can you go above and beyond? Here are some additional tips:

Create a presentation:

  • Video conferencing tools typically allow you to share your screen with the other user. This offers up the opportunity to share content such as a slideshow or PowerPoint presentation with your interviewer. Use this opportunity to showcase some of your past work, your sales process or your unique talents. Let this be an opportunity to show off some personality!

  • You could also make a digital version of a personality profile and share that with your interviewer. List off some of your key accomplishments or fun things you like to do in your spare time. Get creative and be yourself – think about how you can humanize the experience as much as possible.

  • Of course, it goes without saying that you must read your audience to determine what’s appropriate so use these ideas at your discretion.

Ask great questions:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer how their company and leaders are managing and communicating with employees during these uncertain times. How companies respond to COVID-19 will differentiate top employers and speak volumes about their employment value proposition.

  • Also, don’t forget to ask about the on boarding process and how you will be supported should you get the job over the coming months. Most organizations are building contingency plans for on boarding and/or for top employers like Ceridian they already offer remote working and virtual on boarding for all new employees.

Show your brand colours:

  • One of our Women in Tech Sales Boot Camp graduates who is actively interviewing suggested wearing the brand colours of the company you are interviewing with to show your interest and spark a conversation. As a CEO I personally love this idea and think it would be a unique touch!

It all comes down to the small details in a video interview, but just like any in-person interview, if you show up with a positive attitude, self-confidence and just be yourself, you’re sure to make a good impression. Do your research, be prepared and practice, practice, practice! And do make sure you finish the interview with a thank you for their time and follow-up appropriately.

What are your tips for candidates navigating this new world of virtual interviews? Please share your ideas, best practices or experiences with us!

Some video conference tools you can download for free and start practicing now!

By TalentMinded