My essential tips for virtual interviewing:
If you are invited to a virtual interview, there are three steps you can consider to help alleviate any stress and ensure you present yourself in your best light.
Checking your technology is working is the most important thing to do before a video interview. If you usually use Zoom and this interview is on Microsoft Teams, check it out if possible with a friend on a trial run. Check that the apps are picking up the correct microphone, speaker and camera.
Your interviewer can only see you from the waist or chest up. Therefore you'll need to put more into your facial expressions and gestures than you might in a face-to-face meeting. When you might have leant forward to show interest in a meeting room, this can become strange on camera. Instead, focus on using your eyes, eyebrows, smiling and nodding and generally looking engaged. Also, raise your hands in a shot sometimes to express your point. When you’re not talking, make sure you move a little to look engaged and avoid the interviewer thinking you’ve frozen!
It’s a tricky balance to strike at a virtual interview. To put yourself in the right mindset for an interview, make sure you dress top to toe in a professional way, including the shoes, even though they won’t be seen. Dressing right will make a big difference in how you feel and, consequently, how you come across. A trickier question is whether to go for fully suited and booted or something more casual. If you are unsure what balance to strike, you may want to be cautious and go for something formal. However, professional attire that includes a shirt or smart jumper is a good balance when working from home.
For virtual interviews, and beyond
This is my biggest and best tip for virtual interviewing and the traditional interview.
The crucial question is, how do you showcase your best self?
The answer is to know what the company is looking for in as much detail as possible. This includes the job itself and the company culture. Is it a fast-growing start-up or a traditional organisation? Does it need new processes put in place or the maintenance of detailed current processes? Do you need to showcase your drive or demonstrate your calm persona with difficult people?
Whatever it is, don’t wait for the question about “your experience in a start-up” or “tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult person”. Instead, weave that part of your experience and skillset into more than that one answer. Let’s take a random example - when interviewing at a fast-growing start-up and you’re asked about the processes you’ve put in place. Use this question as an opportunity to talk about how you adapted techniques at your current company and innovated frequently and swiftly in line with the fast pace of growth in the organisation and how you successfully kept pace with that. Now you’ve done two things – answered the question about processes and shown how relevant you are to this company because you’ve done that successfully in a fast-growing company.
The key to this is preparation. Take the time to think through all your achievements, strengths and skills and how you might demonstrate those generally during an interview. Not just when you’re asked about them, but how you can embed them into all your answers. Have them at the forefront of your mind. It’s not bragging; it’s telling your story in the best way you can: to be your best self.
Karina Barnes is an ICF approved Executive Career Coach working with Transition Peak Limited. We help corporations by looking after their departing staff. We also help individuals who have decided to change careers or have decided to increase their chances of finding a new role quicker. Training material can be bought as a package or as individual modules. Learn more about our team here. For the latest career advice Sign up for our newsletter here. Connect on LinkedIn here