By: Karen Guo
Preparing for an interview, whether it be for a new job position or for your college applications, can be nerve-racking. As the role of technology expands in our lives and as the coronavirus pandemic keeps social distancing regulations active, interviews have begun to move onto online platforms. More and more recruiters and other interviewers have started to use platforms such as Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom. Below are some helpful tips to keep in mind when heading into your online interview!
An Online Interview Is Still An Interview!
It is important to keep in mind that an online interview is just as important as an in-person interview! The goal of the interview remains the same, to see if you are a good fit to the job or college you are applying to. It is still important to put out your best self and make a good impression on your interviewer. Though you may be doing the interview in the comforts of your own home, dress professionally. At the very least, put on a nice shirt and take care of your hair. As long as the interview doesn’t require you to stand up, pants are optional!
Like all regular interviews, be familiar with the questions that you think your interviewer might ask you. Prepare your answers in advance but don’t memorize them! Make sure to ask in advance what the interview format will be. What platform will the interview be held on? How long will it be? Will there be other people in the interview besides yourself and the interviewer?
Lastly, do not do anything that you wouldn’t do in a normal interview. While it is okay to keep a cup of water or coffee to stay hydrated while you talk, do not eat a whole meal during your interview. You wouldn’t lie down in a normal interview so do not lie down on your bed or your couch for an online one. Sit in a proper chair to get in an interview mindset!
For a general list of tips for interviews, check out this article of 30 interview tips by The Muse.
Test Your Technology
Like the proverb, “better safe than sorry”, make sure that your technology works even if you already have a good familiarity with it. A good tip is to practice a mock interview on the platform that your interview will be held on with a friend. During this time, make sure that your audio and webcam work smoothly. If you can, test out a few options! Does your audio sound better with or without a mic? Do you have a webcam that you can use and does it properly connect to your computer? Though a computer is the most common device to use for an interview, it is possible to use your smartphone or tablet instead. Just make sure that everything works okay.
Once you know the platform that will be used, play around with it! See what type of settings are available and adjust them for the most optimal view of yourself. Keep a note of where the most important buttons are. Know how to mute your mic, turn off your video, and leave the meeting.
Set Up Your Environment
Unfortunately, the only visual impression that the interviewer will have of you is through your webcam. Fortunately, you have control over what you show to your interviewer! The most important thing to prepare is a distraction-free and quiet environment. If you are living with other people, let them know what time your interview is set for and ask them not to disturb you during that time. Even though your furry animal pets may be the cutest, your interviewer may not appreciate their presence as much as you do. Lock your door or keep your pets as far away as possible to prevent them from crashing your interview.
Other distractions to avoid are other devices besides the one you are using for the interview. If you are using your computer for the meeting, keep your phone or tablet away from you so you don’t get tempted to check them. If you have notifications set up on your computer, make sure that you silence them. On platforms such as Zoom, computer notification sounds are picked up and can cause an annoying interruption. It is important to put all your focus on the interview in order to do your best!
In addition to managing distractions, adjust your background to make it as presentable as possible. If you can, go for a neutral background like a wall with minimal decorations. If a neutral background is not available, try to clean up your background as much as possible. Having messy laundry in your background can cause your interviewer to think that you may be someone who is not on top of their work.
During the Interview
Many people may be tempted to start the interview by apologizing for potential technological issues. Do not do that! This will give your interviewer a bad first impression that you may not be technologically competent. As you proceed with your interview, be mindful of your body language. Keep your eyes on your webcam to establish a virtual eye-contact with your interviewer. Like any regular interview, sit up straight, stare ahead, and smile! Before the actual interview, it might be a good idea to record yourself talking to a screen to monitor your body behavior. Make adjustments as needed to ensure that your body language is open and friendly,
Boost Your Interview
Before you head into your interview, do some light exercises or eat something to make sure you have energy. Chances are, you may have been sitting around your house for the most part of the day. Get your energy flowing right before the interview to sound lively and excited!
Having your interview online comes with a slight perk! Though your interviewer may see your face, they won’t be able to see everything that you can see. Use this to your advantage by preparing small cheat sheets that can help guide you through the questions. Stick some post-it notes to your screen or to a nearby surface for that extra help. If you are wearing glasses, make sure that the notes don’t reflect on your lens. However, don’t look up answers to questions during the interview. Be familiar with potential questions and only use the cheat sheets as a reminder. The awkward filler time in which you look up the answers is noticeable and will not work in your favor.
Hopefully, these tips can help you ace your next interview! Remember to stay confident in your abilities and put your best foot forward. Good luck!