Let’s face it, online interviews are gaining popularity as companies adopt stricter health and safety protocols. You’ll most likely go through the first round/s of interviews via Skype/MS Team/Zoom. Some companies will only invite you for an in-person interview if you make it to the final round. This means if you want a chance of securing a job, you will need to master nailing online interviews.
Most people make the false assumption that since there are getting interviewed in the comfort of their own home, the interview will be easier and far less intimidating. This leads to people being casual in the interview or not adequality prepared. The fact that the interviewer is not in the same room with you may make them pay extra attention to not just your answers but your general etiquette. Look at this article as a master course in online interviews, share it with anyone you know who is currently in the market for a new job and may find themselves faced with an online interview in the near future.
Like any other interview, you need to prepare well ahead of the actual interview and if you were going to a face-to-face interview you would need to know a few things ahead of the date including address, directions, and travel time. Just because you won’t be traveling for this interview does not mean you have less preparation to do, in actual fact, you may need to prepare a bit more than you would for an in-person interview. Apart from the obvious, what are you going to wear on the day and preparing your responses to potential questions, you will need to have the following ready as well.
App – Check what application your interview will be conducted via. If you do not already have the app on your device, you will need to download it and create an account ahead of the interview. The next thing will be to familiarise yourself with basic tools within the app, know how to mute and unmute yourself, know where you can turn your camera on and off, and know-how to screen-share in the unlikely event you are asked to show something. Most interviewers will let you know well in advance if they expect you to present, better be prepared non-the-less.
Tech – Make sure your laptop is sufficiently charged in the event of a power outage, also have data on your phone for back backup cause if your power goes, so will your router. Test your camera quality as well as microphone, bad audio will for sure cost you dearly. Another critical thing to check is your internet speed, you will need a minimum of 1Mbps (One megabyte per second) for a good quality video call. If you just type “speed test” on your browser the result will include a “Run Speed Test” button you just click.
The fastest way to ruin your chances is if you do anything that will raise red flags for the interviewer/employer. Here are some things that that are viewed as cause for concern so by all means, please avoid these, or they may cost you your opportunity.
Ghosting or being late – If you do not log in on time for your scheduled interview or do not answer the Skype/Teams/Zoom call and you hadn’t given prior notice of your unavailability, this will paint you as unreliable, no one is looking to hire an unreliable person.
Being too casual – An online interview is still an interview. Refrain from treating it like a call with friends. Use the same formal language you would if you were sitting in a boardroom with the interviewer. Be careful of your posture and facial expressions. DO NOT EAT during the interview, do keep a glass of water close by it is acceptable to drink water/tea/coffee during the interview.
Unprofessional dress code and/or environment – You will most likely be at home for your online interview but unlike casual video chats, you should not take the call from your bed or kitchen. Find a spot with a neutral background and good lighting. Avoid the urge to attend the interview in your hoodie and sweatpants.
Connect early – Technology has a funny way of showing us who’s boss, especially on important occasions. You don’t know what glitches you may have to deal with so connect at least 15 to 10 minutes before your scheduled time to ensure everything is in working order. Showing up late to an interview you didn’t even need to travel for is unforgivable.
Your Online Name and Photo – Your Skype/Zoom/Teams name should be your real name and surname. Please use a professional and appropriate profile picture. These are going to contribute to first impressions.
Keep eye contact – No matter how gorgeous or handsome you look on the day (and I suspect you may look smoking hot) please do not go through the interview admiring yourself on screen. Look the interviewer into the eye, you do that by looking into the camera. This is tricky and may require a little practice because you also can not just stare into the camera endlessly, that’s creepy. When you are speaking look into the camera, when the interviewer is speaking, look at them on screen. Don’t watch yourself, the person on the other side can see where you are looking and it is not only rude it is also weird. You can admire yourself after the interview. If you are using an external camera try to place it in the center of your screen (eye-level), this way you need not worry too much about where to look.
You may not be meeting your interview in person but the same interview dress code rules apply. Choose your colours carefully and avoid clothing with tight lines (pinstripes) as these tend to create a moiré effect. Some prints and patterns won’t translate nicely on camera. White is not a great colour because it can reflect a considerable amount of light and may be overwhelming on the eyes.
You might have to stand for one reason or another so please wear pants/skirt. Business on top, party at the bottom concept might backfire terribly, it will however make one heck of a story.
Say no to booze. It may help calm your nerves but you wouldn’t opt for some ‘liquid courage’ ahead of an interview if you were going to meet your interviewer live so please practise the same restraint for your online interview. Rather take time to do some breathing exercises to calm yourself down, you need to be sharp if you want to ace the interview and alcohol reduces your faculties. Don’t do it! You can always have a celebratory drink afterwards if the interview went well.
Just being invited for an interview is a pretty accomplishment in the current economic climate, you made it this far and that is half the battle won. Be prepared, relax, and enjoy the interview. You would not have been invited if the employer did not see something on your CV that convinced them you are a potential perfect fit. Don’t stress, you got this!