Virtual job interviews aren’t a new concept. Even before the Coronavirus pandemic disrupted our daily routines, many companies were using virtual recruitment as a way to narrow the pool of suitable job applicants.
If you’re job hunting in 2020, there’s a good chance that any virtual initial interview you land will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What does that mean for you? Convenience and cost savings, certainly—but also a major disadvantage when it comes to making a good first impression.
Looking good through a webcam, avoiding awkward pauses and establishing a strong connection are just a few of the challenges of virtual job interviews. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to overcome these challenges and put your best face forward. Ready to ace your next virtual job interview? Because you are still presenting yourself through a visual medium, the confidence indicators like regular eye contact need to be complemented with look good and fresh, which also makes getting on a skin care routine very important. Once you have taken care of that aspect, here are a few pointers on how you can or must carry yourself win the virtual interview in order to make an amazing first impression on the hiring managers.
1. Test Your Technology
When it comes to your video conferencing technology, you should operate on Murphy’s law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Whether it’s a faulty link or your audio is mysteriously muted for some reason, there are an endless number of things that could happen right before your interview. And because you have just gotten started to this form of interview yourself, there always are unexpected blunders around the corner, waiting to happen. Do not leave any scope for surprises.
To avoid the awkward apologies and dropped calls, be sure to test out your technology at least five minutes before the interview. Call a friend or a family member to help you check that your microphone, audio and camera are working properly.
2. Look Professional
Take some pride in your personal appearance. You might think that this would go without saying, but in these strange times, a lot of people have completely dropped the ball on their self-care routines.
Just because the interviewer can’t smell you through the screen doesn’t mean you can skip your shower, shave and skin care routine. To make a favorable impression, you should do everything you would normally do for an in-person interview, such as combing your hair and thinking carefully about your fashion choices.
Pro tip: Busy patterns and bold colors generally don’t look great on camera. To look good on your video call, stick to solid colors in muted tones.
3. Don’t Skip the Small Talk
A good manager will usually start the interview process by making small talk to help the job candidate relax. Don’t skip it! Making small talk is a great way to establish a connection and get the interviewer on your side before the interview even begins.
If you land a job offer, your idle chit-chat can also lead to a higher salary—especially if you’re a guy. In a 2015 study published in Basic and Applied Social Psychology, researchers found that men who engaged in small talk were more likely to benefit when it came time to negotiate their salary.
The bottom line? Leverage the small talk to your advantage.
4. Eliminate Distractions
Choose a quiet place to interview and try to eliminate potential disruptions as much as possible. Remember to close your windows to limit outdoor noises, silence your cell phone and turn off the television.
While we’re on the subject of distractions, it’s best to avoid using a virtual background for your job interview. Zoom backgrounds may be OK to use once you land the job, but for the purpose of your interview, a plain background is best.
5. Have Your Notes Prepared
Be prepared for your interview by keeping your notes organized. These notes should include your talking points and a few questions that you have for your interviewer.
If you’re going to take notes during the interview, stick to pen and paper. Even if you have a relatively quiet keyboard, the interviewer’s microphone can still pick up the annoying clicking noises.
Remember to briefly show or tell your interviewer that you’ll be taking notes. Hold the notebook to the camera so that they know you aren’t doodling or multitasking during the interview.
6. Make Eye Contact
In a virtual job interview, be sure to gaze directly into the web camera, especially when you’re speaking. This will give the impression that you’re making eye contact with the interviewer.
Eye contact is extremely important in job interviews because it indicates your respect and attention. Interestingly, a 2015 study published in Psychophysiology found that the psychophysiological responses of eye contact were the same for both live interactions and video calls.
In other words, you don’t need to be physically present to reap the positive effects of eye contact. Still, you may want to occasionally glance at your video screen to see how the interviewer is responding to the things you say.
7. Be Authentic
Ultimately, the best way to create a good first impression is by being your most authentic self. Stop worrying so much about saying all the right things and focus on showing the real you.
In addition to your hard skills, the interviewer is also trying to gauge whether or not you’ll be a good cultural fit for their company. To help them decide, be honest and professional.
If you are a good fit, then great! But if not, it may be for the best. Working at a company where you don’t fit in can be extremely tough and usually doesn’t equate to long-term success.
Proper preparation is the key to succeeding in any job interview, whether it’s virtual or in-person. With these tips, you can impress your hiring manager and maximize your chances for getting a call back. Don’t forget to send a follow-up note thanking the interviewer for their time!
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