Depending on where you live, you may be entering your third month of quarantine. Yes, three months! While some have adapted to this new normal faster than others, remote interviews and meetings are still an adjustment. Before quarantine life, I had never conducted a virtual interview. Sure, I’ve participated in hundreds of conference calls, but typically that was more so by convenience than necessity. Now, our calendars are chock full of Zoom meetings and virtual engagements. Businesses are still hiring, and although (most) interviews have gone virtual, you still need to come prepared. As someone who is still navigating this fully remote world, here are a few personal tips and lessons learned to help you on this virtual roller coaster:
First impressions still matter. When coming to the virtual interview, be sure you’re dressed as if you’re going to meet someone in the office. Be professional, even if it’s only from the waist up 😉 Although, we have a newfound love for our sweats, let’s put them to the side for the time being. Don’t worry; they’ll still be there waiting for you when your meeting’s finished. I’ve also found that I feel a little more “me” when I’m dressed up. When you look good, you feel good!
Your background sets the tone and defines your atmosphere during the meeting. Let’s be real; we’re all craving that background with the beachside and crystal blue waters. But, we have to be mindful that this is still a professional interview and should save our virtual escapes for our favorite virtual happy hours. Although many of us are conducting interviews from home, you want to be sure you’re in a quiet place without any distractions. This way, the meeting will be focused on you and not your background. With kiddos at home, I know it’s hard to find a quiet corner. In the last three months, my office has turned into a personal gym, preschool classroom, craft zone, and virtual happy hour hot spot. Trust me, I get it. Quiet corners are a luxury.
It’s technology, so connectivity issues are bound to happen. Be sure to prepare yourself by performing a soundcheck or a dry run with a friend or family member to get the kinks out. Also, if your platform has the capability, record the session to review afterward. That way, you can go back and fix any issues. Fully understand your device to know which has the best sound and clarity. For example, some mobile device cameras have higher megapixel capabilities than some desktops. Although the desktop may be more convenient, you may want to use the mobile device for higher resolution. Wear earbuds if necessary. Sometimes we have a lot of background noise, and you want to make sure you’re hearing everyone clearly so that you can respond concisely.
Devices to use
Not everyone has access to a desktop, laptop, or tablet during this time. Libraries and internet cafes are currently closed, so what to do? While accessibility can be limited, you must communicate this hardship with your interviewer, so they are aware and can find another way to conduct the interview. Again, be prepared.
Virtual Interview Platforms
There are several different virtual meeting platforms available. Some of the most common are Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype, and now, Google Meet. While the interviewer usually chooses the meeting source, it’s essential as the interviewee that you communicate if you have a preferred method. Recently, Zoom seems to be a preferred source for virtual meetings. With Zoom, privacy is protected on both sides, and multiple people can join the session for panel interviews. Zoom also allows the meeting holder to have full control to mute participants who are not speaking and to approve participants to enter the meeting. Zoom also allows you to share your screen should your interview require a portfolio or other outside resource for review. Google Meet is essentially the same. Google Meet gives you the convenience of accessing the link directly within your email interface if you are a Gmail user. Disclaimer: I am not promoting Zoom or Google Meet 🙂 I’m just pointing out a few of the perks I’ve experienced while using these platforms. Use whatever works best for your situation.
Energy and Personality
Just because you’re in a virtual interview does not mean that your interviewer cannot sense or feel your energy. Bring your personality! Phone calls, text messages, and video meetings can all be a little impersonal. Interviews can be stressful, and communicating through virtual avenues is not always ideal. However, most times, the feeling is mutual on both sides and requires some getting used to. Take a deep breath, relax, and be yourself. Be excited about the opportunity, be engaged in conversation, and make eye contact. Instead of looking into the screen during the interview, try looking directly into the camera when conducting your interview. While this may feel awkward, it gives the perception that you are looking directly at your interviewer ultimately, making you appear more engaged. Oh, and if I didn’t mention this earlier, RELAX!
Most in-person interviews require you to bring a copy of your resume, portfolio, or other supporting credentials that make you ideal for the position. This, too, applies to virtual interviews. Be prepared. Have your resume sitting in front of you and your portfolio ready. Sign in to the virtual platform early. Get settled. Fully sign in to any other software sources that you may be using. Have your work open and ready to show for an easy transition. If your portfolio or work is physical, it should be within arm’s reach for easy retrieval. The last thing you want to do is go into full-blown panic mode in the middle of an interview. Also, use your space to your advantage and create a cheat sheet. List some notes, possible questions, or things that will get you through the interview successfully, on a sticky note and place it in an area accessible for you to see. The interviewer on the other side won’t ever know, and you’ll be even more prepared to ace the interview and land the job of your dreams.