In order to save time and money, more and more companies make use of technology to conduct interviews. There are two types of virtual interviews a candidate may encounter: (i) a one-way video interview, where the candidate has to respond to pre-set interview questions without a recruiter on the other end; and (ii) a two-way interview using Skype-like technology.
Virtual interviews present unique challenges, but an organisation’s goal with these interviews is the same as with face-to-face interviews. Here are some guidelines for creating a lasting impression in a virtual interview, and being appointed.
The employer will not only see you, but also the surrounding area where the interview will take place. Try to position your computer in such a way that there is a blank wall or a bookshelf behind you. Control the lighting in the room to prevent unwanted shadows or brightness on your face. The interviewer(s) should not only see your face – they should be able to see you from your waist up. Turn the television and radio off, and ensure that pets and children are out of site. Have your curriculum vitae (CV), pen and paper with you, so that you do not have to leave your computer at any time. The greatest benefit of Skype interviews is the ability to have secret notes at hand to remind you of critical issues you would like to highlight. Paste these notes above or around the computer screen, not on the table, as the interviewer(s) will see your eyes divert from the camera, which will reveal what you are doing. Also, note the important questions you would like to ask the interviewer(s).
Choose the device with which you are most comfortable, and that is the most reliable form of technology (i.e. computer, tablet or smartphone). Test your connection, camera, and sound, and ensure that you understand how it works. Practice by having a web conversation with a friend or family member, and remember to look at the webcam, and not at your image on the screen. Rehearse at least an hour before your interview time. Also turn off all applications and programmes that might interrupt the interview – even your cellular phone.
Dress professionally from head to toe – you never know whether you might need to stand up, and then your pajamas or sweatpants will show. Dress in light colours against a dark background, or dark colors against a light background. Avoid wearing bright or distracting colours, or clothes with busy patterns, such as stripes or checks, as it can be distorted on the screen.
Maintain a good posture and a positive attitude. Smiling makes you more likeable, and has been proven to help counteract nerves and stress. Sit up straight, and convey interest using voice intonation, facial expressions, and hand gestures to make your point. Make eye contact by looking into the camera. When responding to questions, nod, but take a second before responding, in case the connection is weak.
Speak in a conversational voice – clear, and without any mumbling. Hearing properly when using a webcam can be problematic, so do not attempt to answer a question you could not hear; ask for clarification. Avoid jargon, and describe acronyms, so that your interviewer(s) can understand what you are referring to. Expect and prepare for traditional job interview questions. Those candidates who can showcase their true personality, while maintaining a level of professionalism, are typically selected for another interview.
Although virtual interviews provide the opportunity to showcase your skills and talents from the comfort of your home, basic interview guidelines still apply. Think of virtual interviews as the “speed dating” of the world of work. Companies want to get a quick sense of who you are so that they can determine whether or not they will invest in you.
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