Job interviews are a stressful situation for everyone, and so is an online job interview, even if the person is not in the same room as their evaluators. Below are recommendations on how to best prepare for it.
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1. Preparing the computer
Of course, to begin with, it is necessary to ensure that the person can access the online job interview. If someone does not have a personal or laptop computer, they can try to access the conversation through a smartphone, but it is better to borrow a computer.
It is also necessary to check, just in case, whether the computer is technically ready for an online job interview so that it does not happen that the candidate cannot connect or other people cannot hear or see them. This includes installing the latest version of the required programs.
- check the operation of the computer and additional equipment – microphone, camera
- check the internet connection
- conduct a trial test with a friend or acquaintance to check whether the video conference platform (Skype, Zoom, Teams, etc.) is working properly
- familiarize yourself with the video conference platform, specifically how to turn on and off the microphone and camera, how to increase or decrease the volume, and how to share the screen with interlocutors (if necessary)
2. Preparing the environment
Apart from the technical aspect of the job interview, one should also think about the environment where the person will be sitting at the computer.
A very common mistake is not thinking about the lighting until it is too late, that is, whether the candidate will be clearly visible on camera. More specifically, people forget that the source and intensity of lighting vary depending on the time of day, so when it’s time for an online job interview, candidates are sitting in the shadows or the sun is shining behind them.
The background itself is also important. It must be neat, professional, and not distracting. It is ideal if there is an empty wall behind the person. Today, it is easily possible to set up a neutral virtual background in video conferencing platforms if a person does not already have a suitable place to conduct an online business interview.
- check the lighting in the room a few days before the interview at the same time of day when it will be held
- check what the other person sees in the background of the video call
- move the computer or clean the room and desk
- set a neutral virtual background on the video conferencing tool
3. Ensuring peace of mind
It should be ensured that the candidate is not only clearly seen by other people, but also heard well. If a person shares a space for conversation with others, it would be best to ask them to be quiet during the conversation and not use that space.
If the candidate has children, it would be best to have someone look after them during that time. Also, pets need to be taken care of (fed, walked) before the interview and it is best to place them in another room.
- if it is possible, try to be the only person in the room where the video call will take place
- ask the household members to be quiet and calm during the conversation
- ask someone to take care of small children during the conversation
- lock pets in another room and provide them with food and toys
- turn off notifications on your computer and smart devices
4. Preparing the layout for an online job interview
For an online job interview, you need to dress like you would for a face-to-face interview. This includes the lower part of the body, even though it probably won’t be visible during the conversation. It can always happen that the candidate has to stand up, a reflection is seen in the background or the camera captures an awkward body angle.
An overall professional appearance helps candidates be in the right mind frame during a formal interview. That’s why it’s ideal to undertake preparations that the camera won’t capture, such as taking a shower.
Regarding the choice of clothes and makeup for the interview, it should be the same as for a face-to-face interview, but it might be good to avoid bright colors, prominent patterns on dresses and ties, and too much makeup and jewelry that could distract.
- dress fully as you would for a face-to-face interview
- undertake the necessary hygiene
- avoid bright colors on clothes, flashy patterns, and excessive make-up and jewelry
5. How to behave in an online job interview
There is a lot of advice on how to conduct yourself in a job interview, and for online job interviews the task is more difficult. Since the interviewers will have a limited view of the candidate, it is more difficult to communicate with body language.
This is why eye contact is extremely important. Candidates are advised to try to maintain eye contact with interviewers by looking straight into the camera. Of course, it will not be possible to look exactly into someone else’s eyes, but the candidate must show that they are trying to make a similar impression. It is not good to look to the side or try to read notes that are outside the camera frame.
When gesturing with the head, it is important to look interested and nod when other people are talking. At the same time, you should behave naturally, because constantly nodding your head will leave a weird impression on the interlocutors.
The best recommendation is to try to be authentic because the candidate has a rare opportunity to present himself in a familiar environment, which should reduce stress.
- look at the camera and imitate eye contact
- remember to nod your head while listening
- avoid looking to the side
- make sure that the head and upper body are clearly visible to interviewers
6. Other tips for an online job interview
The mere fact that one does not travel to a job interview does not mean that candidates should not prepare before the scheduled appointment. It would be good if everything is ready ten minutes before the start of the interview, not only so that the candidate is not waited for, but also in case something unexpected happens at the last moment.
If difficulties such as internet connection problems or background noise occur, it is crucial to remain calm. Other people will use the opportunity to assess how candidates deal with unforeseen situations and it is crucial to show they are flexible and calm under pressure. In case the technical part of the conversation fails, it would be good to have a mobile phone in reserve so that the conversation could continue through another channel.
It would be ideal to practice an online job interview both before and after it. Before it, it would be good to try to practice it with friends or family members so that the candidates feel prepared and safe for the real interview. Even if the job interview doesn’t go well, it’s a good idea to record it so it could be studied it later and analyze what went wrong.
- prepare everything and wait for the online job interview at least 10 minutes before the scheduled appointment
- in case of unforeseen problems, keep a calm mood
- have a cell phone handy in case of disconnection
- try to conduct a test interview with trusted persons
- record a job interview and analyze it as a preparation for future interviews
All these recommendations have two main guidelines in common. The first is to prepare everything in advance so that communication runs smoothly without technical problems, and the second is to appear professionally as in a face-to-face interview.