COVID-19 has pushed firms to transform the way they approach every aspect of their business. Those who have been successful in this transition have continued to embrace technology to ensure hiring and onboarding is efficient and seamless. The virtual interview is now the norm, yet it does come with some pitfalls. Firstly, there is the lack of personal contact, making it difficult for candidates to get to know their potential team or connect with board members. There is also the fact that although you may be the perfect candidate for the role, you may not be particularly tech savvy, and navigating the virtual interview can be daunting. However, these challenges can be overcome by following a few simple steps.
1. Set up your tech
As soon as you are given the date of your interview, get all the necessary technology set up and working. Make sure there are no issues with your online connection and test your camera, mic, and headphones. If you need to buy new equipment, do this immediately so you have plenty of time to set it up properly. When the day of the interview arrives, test everything several times. Being tech savvy is one of the top 10 attributes employers want in a candidate – after all, technology is now part of everyday business. By being fully prepared and showing you are comfortable communicating virtually, you demonstrate that you are an adaptable candidate, which is essential in these times when the world of work is rapidly fluctuating.
2. Eliminate distractions & professionalise surroundings
For your interview, choose an area in your home with decent lighting. Make sure your background shows you in a professional light. It is a good idea to choose a neutral background, such as a blank wall, otherwise the interviewer may get distracted by personal effects behind you. If you can’t find a neutral background, you can create them in most virtual meeting apps – practice this before the day of the interview so you are prepared. Turn off your mobile, use headphones, and close windows to shut out external noise which could distract both you and the interviewer. Also, make sure when you’re sitting down for the interview that you don’t have any webpages open – although it may be tempting, for example, to find out more information about the company, you should already know this thoroughly. Even though your interviewer is not in the same room as you, it’s immediately apparent when a candidate is distracted.
3. Prepare ahead of time
Treat this as you would an in-person interview – at this point, you should have good knowledge of the company and have prepared succinct answers to potential questions. To help, note down key points you want to hit and keep these on hand during the interview. Typical questions aimed at senior leaders and executives include:
- What traits are required for a leader to be successful?
- What is the biggest risk you have taken in your career?
- What knowledge will your employees gain from having you as a leader?
- How would you deal with tensions among your employees?
- What achievement in your previous company are you most proud of?
- What is the biggest challenge that our company is currently facing?
- What is the first thing you would do in this role?
Just like an in-person interview, it’s a good idea to prepare questions you would like to ask, such as:
- What attracted you to this company? What makes you stay?
- What are currently the most difficult challenges for the department/team/company?
- How is success measured within this role?
- What is a typical day in this role?
- Can you describe the ideal candidate for this position?
4. Practice but be yourself
Go over your responses and questions as much as possible. It helps to practice aloud to get a sense of how you come across – you can also do this with someone you trust who will give you honest feedback. By the time the day of the interview arrives, you will feel fully prepared and confident as a result. However, the key here is to remain natural and make sure you’re not just reciting lines. It is important throughout the interview that you’re being genuine. Remember, the interviewer wants to know that not only do you have the right skills for the job, but that you fit the company culture too. Let your personality come through, so they can envision what working alongside you will be like.
5. Exude confidence
Pay attention to your body language as even in a virtual interview, this can give off the wrong impression. Make sure you’re not slouching – this implies that you are not confident - or crossing your arms, as this can make you appear closed-off. Have an open, positive expression and maintain eye contact with the interviewer on your screen. Many candidates make the mistake of thinking that because an interview is virtual, it’s more casual. This is not the case. Imagine you are going for an in-person interview, and dress accordingly. Wear professional clothing to show the interviewer you have the right mindset for the role, you fit the company culture, and that you are taking this seriously.
6. Connect personally
A key aspect to a successful interview is making sure you stand out from the crowd. It’s likely there will be plenty of other candidates interviewing for this role, so you need to make sure you are remembered as a unique individual. If the interviewer doesn’t initiate a question about life outside work, this can be tricky, but you can always weave something of your personal life into an interview. For example, if your hobby is long distance running, you can mention how overcoming challenges in training can be applied in the world of business. This is likely to prompt further questions from the interviewer about your interests and chances are, you’ll find some common ground. This will make you memorable and demonstrates additional soft skills you can bring to the table.
To be successful in a virtual interview, first and foremost you need to be fully prepared. This will help you exude confidence and shows the interviewer you are the right candidate for the role and the ideal fit for the company.