Virtual interviews are harder than most job candidates expect. In an in-person interview, it’s easy to build rapport. There’s an energy in the room. Body language, smiles—they all contribute to building a connection.
Most candidates think since smiles and body language are visible on a video call that they’re building the same connection. While the visuals are there, something is different. The feelings and energy are diminished.
Consider a stage actor versus someone on the big screen in a movie. In a stage production, actors are often told how important their energy and enthusiasm are. The audience is removed from the action in a stage play. There’s the barrier of distance so the emotions must be larger. In a movie, on the other hand, the camera can zoom in on every flicker of emotion.
While a video call may seem like an in-person interview, there are several differences. And just like a good stage production, knowing what those are can help you connect to your audience, ensuring that you both come away with a good impression.
Ways to Ace Your Virtual Interview
Prepare on multiple fronts
Mastering a virtual interview is critical to your career as a greater number of employers, especially those in tech transfer, are using this cost-saving and efficient way to find the ideal job candidate. In a recent poll from SoftwareAdvice, 60% of hiring managers said they used video interviewing in the hiring process. (Indeed places that number at 82%.)
Virtual interviews are cost-effective, convenient, and quicker than traditional in-person interviews, making them a favorite of hiring managers. These benefits may also cause an employer to interview more job candidates because they can do so in nearly the same time they would in-person interviews. Competition can be tough these days, especially if the hiring manager is performing in-person and virtual interviews.
If you want to ace your next virtual interview, try these suggestions:
Most hiring managers will ask a candidate why they want the position. When a job applicant has a good answer to this question it can earn them a top spot. This is true whether the interviewee is in person or on a video call.
However, the disconnect occurs in what level of enthusiasm the interviewee presents. When in person, it’s easier for the hiring manager to feel the connection and the enthusiasm because they are spending time with the person. In a virtual interview, there can be delays, distractions, and a feeling of distance between interviewee and interviewer. A polite smile in person may come across as warm and interested, especially when accompanied by a firm handshake. On screen, and without the physical greeting, it’s likely to not convey the same level of interest.
So how do you show enthusiasm without acting over the top or so dramatically that the hiring interviewer questions your ability to fit into the team?
Ways to Convey a More Enthusiastic Approach to Your Virtual Interview
Ask relevant, well-researched questions
Use your words. Since some of the body language communication will be downplayed over a virtual connection, use specific language to convey emotion. For instance, if something the interviewer says is fascinating to you make sure you tell them. If you are impressed by a statistic or a story, convey that in words. Don’t assume that the same head nod you would use in person will suffice to express your level of interest.
Use good posture. Slouching is fine when watching television in the evening. But when interviewing for the next level of your career, you want to sit up straight. Most interviewees wouldn’t dream of slouching in an in-person interview. But when taking an interview from your home it’s easy to fall into a more casual approach, especially if you’re in a comfortable chair. If necessary, sit in a formal setting that makes it impossible for you to slouch, such as a desk chair or a dining room chair.
Make eye contact with the camera. Every interviewee knows eye contact is important. But what many virtual candidates often forget is that in virtual interviews eye contact is not maintained by staring at your phone or laptop screen. If you want to make eye contact with the interviewer in a virtual scenario you need to look into your webcam. Your laptop screen is several inches below your webcam. If you focus on your screen, you are not making eye contact with your interviewer.
As often as a job candidate say they limited distractions on their end (such as pets and children), if they are taking the virtual call from a place with a busy background, the interviewer can get distracted. A distracted interviewer will then miss the keys to connection. Minimize the number of things that may take your interviewer’s focus from you.
Prepare on Multiple Fronts
Before participating in a video interview, always prepare. However, video preparation goes beyond figuring out answers to popular interview questions. When you’re preparing to be interviewed on a video call you want to ensure you have the following things:
Good lighting. If your room is not well-lit, not only will you not look your best, but you could also give off the impression that you are not a professional. Many interviewers already have concern over the seriousness with which people take working from home. A dimly lit room conveys comfort and looks like the perfect place to nap, not focus.
Knowledge of the platform. If you want to shine in an interview, eliminate as many technical problems as possible. To do this, make sure you are familiar with the video platform the interviewer is using. Don’t leave any experimentation or trials to a few minutes before your call. Instead, do a trial run to familiarize yourself with the technology. Even if you are familiar with the technology, log in ahead of time so that if there’s an update that is required you can perform it before your interview.
Muted backgrounds. You have two options when it comes to video backgrounds. You can select a filter that will put the focus on you, or they can leave the room as is. If you opt for the latter, minimize the noise and visual distractions. Being in front of a plain wall may be boring but it will also take less bandwidth and provide a smoother connection with few distractions.
Run through. If you have the time, record yourself on camera answering popular interview questions. Make note of words (or sounds) you overuse like “um” or “er” as you watch the video playback. Notice where your eyes land as you’re speaking. If you’re focusing on something sentimental on your desk, remove it. Watch for quirks or tendencies you have. Run throughs are important because these unconscious actions can be more pronounced over video than in person.
Some job candidates make the mistake of believing that virtual interviews are more casual than in-person interviews. That may have been the case during the pandemic, but these days it’s just another medium and a cost-saving way to interview candidates. A virtual interview does not mean that you should dress like you were about to head out to the beach.
Follow the dress code of the hiring organization or ask your recruiter or appointment setter what the expected dress is. Don’t chance it. According to Inc., 71% of employers admitted they wouldn’t hire someone who doesn’t follow the appropriate dress code. When in doubt, ask.
The popularity of virtual interviews may have arisen during COVID when the world was in quarantine, yet now that offices have reopened, virtual interviews are here to stay. To be in the running for some of the most competitive positions in the tech transfer industry, you will want to master the techniques necessary to stand out among your peers.