Preparing For a Virtual Interview

By |2020-06-23T06:53:49-04:00June 3rd, 2020|Interviews|

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is expected to have far reaching effects on the US economy. But it has also triggered several opportunities to transform the way we do business. For instance, life – both personal and professional – has turned increasingly digitalized as we strive to remain competent through a virtual world. A majority of job interviews are now conducted “online” to avoid direct person to person contact. 

Here are 5 tips to ace an interview in this new paradigm. 

Prepare as usual

If you were to attend a direct face to face interview, you would read the job description twice, look up the company website, double check your resume, carefully craft your responses to common questions, pick out your favorite business attire, and put your best, polished foot forward. Well, these rules still apply. 

A virtual interview is not an opportunity to slack off, in physical appearance, in demeanor, or even in your technical preparation for the interview. So do your homework as usual. In fact, you will need to take extra care to ensure that you understand any additional rules for the virtual setting (like logging on to a site to mark your virtual attendance at least 5 minutes before the interview). And bonus, you have the pleasure of avoiding peak hour traffic!

Customize your resume for the job

Some people think of a resume as a formality rather than as a glorious opportunity to present your best professional front to a hiring manager. Now guess which type of resume is more likely to win virtual favor? 

Generic resumes can at best win you generic jobs. Instead, customize your resume for the job you want to win, tailoring it to the needs of the hiring company. This endeavor will also help you understand the employer and job better, and thus recognize if they are best suited for you (including company expectations, travel opportunities, schedule, etc.). 

Your final resume should explicitly highlight why you, and only you, are the perfect fit for this role. If you are convinced of this even before the first interview, you are more likely to resonate this experience with the hiring manager. 

Quickly adapt for the digital world

Unlike a conventional meeting, a virtual meeting will need you to set up the right “technical ecosystem” for the interview to take place. 

This can include: 

  • Setting up high quality video conferencing accessories such as a mike, camera, speakers, etc. 
  • Setting up a neutral background with natural lighting for best visibility. It’s vital that you and the interviewer are able to view each other without distraction. 
  • Minimize background noise. You do not want a barking dog or the neighboring construction work to disrupt your meeting. 
  • Installation of specialized software like Zoom, Webex, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams, etc. to create a digital workspace. 

This effort is worth it in the long term, as more companies are scaling up to support their employees to work from home. 

Do a dress rehearsal

If this is your first virtual interview, you should install trial versions of video conferencing software, and test them with your friends to role play a dummy interview before the live version. 

This might seem silly at first, but will help you tune your virtual ecosystem for maximum impact. For instance, do you know that many people tend to turn away from the mike whilst speaking, so some of their words are lost? A dry run will help you iron out the kinks, so there are no unpleasant surprises during the actual interview. 

Get professional on social media

Yes, the social media universe is the new hub for professional connections. So do not hesitate to connect with a potential employer (including a hiring manager) using social media. 

Of course, keep in mind social media etiquette so you do not come across as “pesky”. In fact, with the right social media connections, this is an excellent way to get professional recommendations in this increasingly virtual world. You may even ask your interviewer if you can keep in touch over social media for updates and future opportunities.

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