Learn all about video interviews, including what they are, how to prepare for one, and what it takes to have a great interview with our list of tips.
Applying for a job you’re perfectly qualified for and then feeling you’ve fallen short in the interview is a common experience. Yes, it’s frustrating, but it’s also a learning opportunity –– so don't beat yourself up. Remember, excelling in interviews is a skill in itself, and there are many things you can do to nail the next one.
In this guide, we'll learn the ins and outs of virtual interviews and offer tips to help you prepare for your next online interview.
What are virtual interviews? 💻
Virtual (and often recorded) interviews have revolutionized the recruitment process, offering a digital alternative to traditional face-to-face meetings. They often happen via digital conferencing platforms like Zoom or Skype, allowing interviewers and candidates to connect from anywhere, breaking geographic barriers and saving time and resources.
Here are two of the most common types:
- Remote video interview: This is conducted in a quiet place per the candidate’s choice. It requires a stable internet connection, headphones, and a webcam.
- In-office video interview: This takes place on-site at a potential employer's office, with the interviewer in another location.
How to prepare for your virtual interview 🤔
Acing an interview takes work. One of the best ways to approach an interview is with confidence and a positive mindset, as a self-assured demeanor impresses interviewers and helps you stay calm and collected. To ensure you project this confidence, here are a few crucial steps to follow when preparing for a virtual interview:
- Practice: By preparing a list of questions and rehearsing answers, you can reduce any stress or anxiety you might experience during the interview. Also, list a few questions to ask at the end of an interview, like how much the pay is and when to follow up, as this shows interviewers you’re interested. Finally, research the company to know more about its vision, mission, and values.
- Set up your space: Find a quiet place, and ensure there’s enough lighting, preferably natural, and the background isn't distracting (if it is, use a virtual background). Put your phone on silent so no notifications pop up during the interview.
- Dress professionally: Wear something expected for the position you're applying for. Of course, this doesn't mean attending the interview in pajamas if the job is remote. That might give off the wrong impression.
- Test the conferencing platform: Before the interview, familiarize yourself with the platform, including the mute, hide video, and share screen buttons, and test your equipment (headphones and microphone) to ensure if everything works properly. This can also save you time when making a recorded video interview.
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12 tips for a successful video interview 🔥
Making a strong impression hinges on your preparedness and approach during a virtual interview. Here are 12 tips to help you excel and leave a lasting impact:
1. Pay attention to your speech 🗣️
Speak with a projected voice (but don't shout) to ensure you're heard, which is helpful if the interviewer has a bad connection. Talk slowly and take pauses to ensure the interviewer understands your answers. And use your facial expressions to show the interviewer you're excited about the job (don't speak in a monotone voice).
2. Make eye contact 👀
Eye contact is just as crucial during a virtual conversation as an in-person one. If you're slightly shy, it's understandable why making eye contact is tough, but to make a good impression, it's necessary. Practice maintaining eye contact (looking at the camera, ensuring it’s eye level) for 3–4 seconds and looking away for 1–2 seconds. In other words, don't stare into the person's soul, but don't keep darting your eyes.
3. Manage distance from your webcam 🤳
Position your chair so you aren't too far or close to the webcam. You want to follow the rule of thirds to ensure you take up the center of the screen comfortably. Simply put, leave some space above your head and to your sides. Also, avoid leaning forward into the camera. Ensure your upper chest, shoulders, and head are visible.
4. Check for glare 🛋️
Constantly distracting light can create a bad impression on the interviewer. Ensure you don’t wear any dazzling jewelry, eyeglasses, or watches that reflect light. Also, make sure you remove any lamps or lights that may bother the recruiter.
5. Log in early ⌚
Much like an in-person interview, avoid entering the online interview just as it begins, or worse, coming late. Being early allows you to set everything up (portfolio for screen sharing or documents for talking points). It also means you can prepare yourself mentally, and you seem professional.
6. Start off with a virtual handshake 🤝
As much as you want to get the interview underway, you should always begin with a virtual handshake, which involves small talk so everyone can settle in. This helps create a connection and gets the interview on the right foot.
7. Engage with your face 🙂
Reading body language is difficult over a webcam, and the subtle nonverbal communication methods like murmuring in agreement or slightly nodding your head aren't noticeable. As such, be as expressive with your face as you can. Smile when replying or listening, and exaggerate your nods (but again, nothing too extreme).
8. Indicate when you’re done talking 👍
Awkward silences aren't fun in any conversation, especially during something as important as an interview. Sometimes, it's not easy to tell when someone is finished speaking over a webcam, so rather than letting the person interviewing you guess or invite interruptions, give a brief nod when you're done talking.
9. Maintain good posture 🧘
Appearing engaged is crucial, and the easiest way to do this is by maintaining good posture. Slouching or slumping forward doesn't send a good message. Sit with your back straight, feet planted, and hands on the table.
10. Explain pauses 🤓
If you don’t use a webcam or your notebook is out of camera view, take the time to explain any pause before it occurs. Unexplained delays might make the recruiter think you didn't hear them or that there's something wrong with the connection. If you need time to think of an answer to a question, let them know.
11. Read from sparse notes 🗒️
Although the interviewer might not see all the information you have at your disposal, avoid keeping it on hand. You may start relying on it too much and begin reading out long answers, which doesn't appear genuine. It might even distract you, ruining the conversation flow. If you need notes, ensure they’re just critical bits of information.
12. Avoid interrupting ☝️
The last thing you want to do is continually interrupt the interviewer. Not only does this ruin the flow of conversation, but it might also irritate them. Wait at least a second and a half before replying to ensure they're done talking. Similarly, ensure you're in a quiet place with no possibility of being interrupted.
Have successful interviews with Contra 🌟
Prepare well, avoid interrupting, minimize interruptions, and stay engaged during your interview, and it should go well. If you're ready to test these tips out, join Contra to promote your freelancing skills and successfully navigate interviews with clients. And if you’re all set to ace freelancing, increase your chances of matching with more clients and boost the discoverability of your profile by upgrading to Contra Pro. Sign up today.
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