Thought Leadership Blog
By Victoria McIntyre, Governance, Risk and Compliance Consultant with Layer 8 Security, and a PA Women Work volunteer
You apply for a job and have an interview scheduled for your desired position. In today’s world, many interviews are still happening virtually, and it’s my guess many first interviews will remain that way beyond the pandemic. Video conferencing software, such as Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts, has made interviewing more convenient and cost-effective for applicants and recruiters alike.
While this form of interviewing can be new and intimidating, here are five tips to reduce stress and make a great first impression for your prospective employer.
Practice makes perfect
Research the company you are interviewing with and reread the job listing of your application. Before the interview, research the most common questions employers ask, such as:
● Why are you interested in this role?
● What do you know about our company?
● What do you consider to be your biggest professional achievement?
● What is a challenge you faced at work? How did you overcome this challenge?
● What are you looking for in a new position?
● Why are you leaving your current role?
Practice your responses to the questions but avoid committing your responses to memory. Your responses should sound genuine instead of robotic or rehearsed. Ask a friend or family member to have a rehearsal interview and provide feedback on ways you can improve your responses.
Prepare to discuss any experiences you have listed on your resume. If you are having trouble remembering things you want to mention in the interview, use post-it notes that can stick to the side of your computer. Make quick bulleted lists you can refer to if you want to articulate an answer in a certain way or remember an important detail from your resume.
Finally, most interviews will end with employers asking if you have any questions for them. Make sure to prepare a few, such as:
● What does a typical day in this role look like?
● How would you describe the ideal candidate for this position?
● What are 3-5 words that come to mind to describe company culture?
● Are opportunities for professional growth and development available?
● What are the next steps of the hiring process?
Remember to ask the questions that help you find out if the job fits you. For example, if your work environment is important to you, ask about the company culture. Writing down the questions you have can be helpful, so you have options if some of your questions are mentioned earlier in the interview. You never want to answer that you don’t have any questions for them.
Test your technology
Your interview begins. The image looks fuzzy. Your audio begins to cut in and out. You attempt to struggle with the lighting in the room in hopes you will be more visible. All the while, this could make employers question if you are the right fit for this job.
Check your computer ahead of time. Consider purchasing a webcam if the audio and camera are bad quality. Double check your WiFi before the start of the interview, and don’t wait until the last minute to set up your computer for the interview. Make sure that you have the video conferencing software downloaded and up-to-date before the interview begins. Set up earlier than necessary to have one less stressor for your interview.
Although you may test your technology well in advance of an interview, you or your interviewer may still face technical difficulties during an interview. If you encounter technical difficulties such as a poor network connection, try turning off your camera first to see if this resolves the issue. If you continue to have issues, call into the interview if you have been provided with a dial-in option. Keep your phone handy in case the interviewer calls you back to continue the interview by phone. Stay calm as you proceed with your interview - technical difficulties are out of your control and should not affect the outcome of your interview.
Set the scene
Consider your background before your interview. Try to find a blank wall in your home so you will be the focus of your call. If you do not have a blank wall, choose the most professional setting in your house as the background, like an office or living room. Many popular video conferencing tools now have virtual backgrounds or the option to blur your background.
Check your lighting. Natural light is always best if you can utilize windows in your home. Light in front of you will help you avoid looking washed out during your interview.
Remove all distractions before the interview. Silence anything that can make unnecessary noise during your interviews, like your TV or phone. If possible, close windows to avoid outside noises, such as traffic.
Dress the part
For virtual meetings, wear your best business attire, as you would for an in-person interview. Professional clothing will not only help you look the part, but you will feel the part and boost your self-esteem. Consider a nice blouse, button-down shirt or blazer. Avoid overpowering patterns, flashy accessories, or any tight or uncomfortable fabrics.
Send an email to whoever you interviewed with within 24 hours of meeting. Start by thanking them for taking the time to talk with you. Then mention something you bonded over in the interview to personalize the email and stay at the top of the interviewer’s mind. This is also your opportunity to answer a question you wish you responded to differently or elaborate on a point you want to emphasize. Be clear and concise to make a lasting impression.
If you keep these five tips in mind, I am confident you will “wow” any employer…even if you are miles away on a video screen.