The events of the early 2020s have reshaped the job-hunting process forever. And nowhere is this more evident than in the online job interview itself.
Between the global pandemic, the emergence of remote work, and the refinement of teleconferencing technologies, virtual job interviews have gone from a novelty just a few short years ago to an everyday occurrence today. Naturally, this shift is changing how job seekers must prepare for interviews.
While virtual interviews have made it easier to apply for jobs from anywhere in the world, the skills one needs how to succeed in online interviews online differ greatly from those needed for in-person interviews. You can be prepared to nail your online interview and land the job by taking the following steps.
1. Search: Know the Company
Demonstrating knowledge of the company and its industry shows you are a serious and well-prepared candidate. This helps establish a stronger connection with the interviewer, giving you an edge over the competition.
Researching the company allows you to focus your answers on their needs. You will better understand their core values, mission, products/services, competitors, and what they look for in employees and hiring managers. This equips you to tailor your answers to the company and provide specific ways you would be a better hire than the other applicants.
Your research will also give you precious insights into what questions or topics might come up during the interview.
2. Practice: Common Interview Questions
Practicing common interview questions is essential to preparing for a job interview. Doing so will translate into confidence, increasing your chance of making a great impression on the interviewer.
Understanding the types of questions a company will likely ask will help you anticipate them to answer them effectively. The language used in the company’s job posting will provide clues as to what questions might be asked, as will the language and tone of its social media posts.
Practicing your interviewing skills will also help you identify areas for improvement in your responses – common areas for improvement include articulating answers more clearly or providing supporting evidence to back up your points.
To practice common interview questions, form a study group with friends who have already gone through the process or are working professionals in the field you’re interested in. Working through potential questions together will give you insight into how others view the same topics and help you better articulate your thoughts.
Additionally, joining online forums or reading books on common interview questions will provide broader information and real-world examples to draw upon. Recording practice sessions to review later for mistakes is also beneficial and will make you more comfortable with the technology.
3. Test: Your Technology and Internet Connection
Job interviews are intimidating. Add in the stress of learning unfamiliar technology, which can be overwhelming. To ensure a successful interview experience, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the technology you will encounter during the interview before the moment of truth.
The first step is researching the video conferencing software the company you are interviewing with will use. Common apps in remote interviews include web conferencing systems such as Zoom or Skype, video conferencing tools such as Google Meet or Microsoft Teams, and even specialized virtual interviewing software.
Once you’ve identified which technologies you’ll need to access during your interview, make sure they are downloaded and working properly ahead of time. Use them a few times before the interview starts to become comfortable with their user interface so that you can navigate them without any issues. Additionally, check your computer’s security settings and ensure your internet connection is stable.
Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the technology needed for your virtual or job search and interview allows you to display your professionalism before you’ve even answered a single question.
4. Look the Part: Dress Professionally
It can be tempting to think that what you wear for a virtual interview doesn’t matter. However, dressing professionally and being aware of your appearance shows you are serious about the opportunity and have respect for the interviewer.
Additionally, professional attire can boost your confidence and give you an edge during the interview – a sharp appearance will help you ‘get your game face on.’ Studies have shown that dressing up for an in-person or virtual event helps us feel more confident and prepared for whatever task lies ahead.
Other aspects of a professional appearance include choosing an appropriate interview location free of noise and distractions. Virtual backgrounds, a neutral background, a computer screen, blank wall, or even a professional backdrop are great options for a virtual interview. Showing off your beer can collection is not.
Putting forth a professional is a gift-wrapped opportunity to stand out amongst a few notes the other applicants – other candidates will likely not appear so polished, so don’t miss the chance to communicate your value.
5. Project Confidently: Body Language
There are more ways to communicate than just through words. Research has shown that up to %55 of communication is non-verbal. What is your body language saying about you?
Body language and nonverbal cues are important in any interview. Still, even more so in virtual job interviews – given the limitations of a virtual interview, you have to make everything within your control work for you. Eye contact, facial expressions, posture, and hand gestures can all impact how the interviewer sees you.
- Eye Contact – Listen carefully and make eye contact, but don’t stare. It will show you are paying close attention and engaging with the conversation.
- Expressions – Smiling naturally throughout the interview will also demonstrate you are friendly and open to communication.
- Posture – Maintaining good posture throughout the video interview is another way to show enthusiasm and confidence. Keeping an open stance with your arms uncrossed is also important, as this communicates openness and willingness to engage.
- Nonverbal Cues – Finally, nonverbal cues such as nods and pauses play an important role in an online interview – they signify understanding or agreement between both parties, which can get lost in the virtual interview setting.
Keeping these cues in mind will help ensure you make a good impression on the interviewer and increase the odds they will be interested in your qualifications.
6. Show Off: Your Skills and Experience
Like any in-person interview, you want to use the virtual interview to showcase your skills and experiences. By preparing beforehand and being mindful of the limitations of the virtual environment, you will put yourself in the best position to present yourself effectively.
Think about how to best demonstrate your skills through an online conversation to illustrate how they could benefit the company. Give details of specific situations where you have successfully used your capabilities and provide the concrete results your actions led to.
A common interview tip to help achieve this is called the STAR interview method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Essentially, this technique provides a framework for you to tell the story of something you accomplished in the workplace and the results it generated. Your story will help the interviewer understand the results you will provide for their company.
Before the interview is concluded, be sure to bring up topics related to your experience that may not have been covered previously in the discussion, such as additional skills or certifications that could be relevant for this job role.
Once you have shared your experience and skills and painted the hiring manager a picture of how they will benefit the company, all that remains is to end the interview positively.
7. Wrap It Up: Leaving on a High Note
It’s important to make sure that you leave the interviewer with a lasting, positive impression.
One of the best ways to do this is by asking insightful questions at the end of your conversation. This will show that you’re engaged in the video job interview and have researched the company, allowing you to stand out further from other applicants. Additionally, when asking these questions, follow up with thoughtful comments and statements about your experiences or qualifications relating to their answers to solidify your understanding of what was discussed.
Before the interview, research the company’s background, culture, and relevant current events. This will help you prepare questions to create meaningful dialogue during your meeting. Create open-ended questions (instead of ones with only one right answer), as this will provoke a dialogue rather than just a one-word response.
Now Crush That Online Interview!
The virtual interview presents unique challenges, but opportunities exist to separate yourself from the competition. Preparation is key.
Make sure you research the company beforehand. Practice answering common interview questions with a friend or family member to build confidence. Thoroughly test your internet connection and the video conferencing app your interviewer will use. Pay attention to how you present yourself. Effectively tell the story of your skills and how they will benefit the company and leave a positive impression on your interviewer.
Online interviews are here to stay. By following these simple strategies, you will prepare yourself to take advantage of the opportunities virtual interviews present to stand apart from the other applicants, get noticed, and hear the words you want to hear: