Since the covid-19 pandemic first forced the UK into lockdown, our methods of applying and interviewing for jobs have changed. We haven’t been able to go and meet our interviewers in person, which for some has created a whole load of new worries and concerns. While face-to-face interviews and virtual interviews are pretty similar in their content, there’s no denying that the two feel very different when you’re in the hot seat. But, if we’re honest, we don’t think this switch to virtual interviews is a bad change at all. Regardless of the impacts of covid, virtual interviews are here to stay.
Virtual interviews may feel like scary, unknown territory to us at first, but platforms like Zoom and Skype are making the interview experience easier, quicker and cheaper for many of us. For starters, you don’t have to physically get yourself to your interview location anymore. This saves time and money (and if you’ve got lots of interviews, this time and money adds up). Plus, you no longer have to worry about getting lost on your way, which is the source of many anxiety dreams! Virtual interviews on the whole allow us to stop worrying about a lot of those things.
However, we know that virtual job interviews are still nerve-wracking experiences. In fact, virtual interviews present us with an entirely new set of challenges to face. This article will provide you with the toolkit you need to feel confident and prepared for your next virtual interview.
Choosing where to sit for your interview is something that will need some serious thought. Make sure you are being lit from the front so that your face is fully visible (i.e., don’t sit with a window behind you, as this will backlight you and make your face too dark to see). Your interviewer isn’t allowed to judge you based on the appearance of your home. Unfortunately, however, every person is a human being. We all make unconscious judgements about things all the time. A white or light-coloured wall is the best backdrop for this reason. If you have a hectic, messy interview space, this might leave a negative impression on your interviewer. Not only will having a tidy interview station make you appear more put together to your interviewer, but it will make you feel more level-headed and calmer during the interview itself.
If you are really uncomfortable about having your living space on camera during your interview, you can use a background filter offered by many of the video calling platforms. When picking a background though, make sure it’s something appropriate. You don’t want a background that is too busy, as this will distract them from listening to what you are actually saying.
The most important thing about choosing your interview station is to make sure you choose somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. A quiet, empty room with the door closed is our best recommendation. If you have anything or anybody in your home that might interrupt your interview (such as a pet, a young child or even a noisy washing machine), it’s worth just letting your interviewer know about it before you actually start. That way, if the noise does occur during the interview, you won’t need to interrupt your own flow to explain what it is. At the end of the day, your interviewer knows you are a human being, and they are one too. They know the inconvenience of having to conduct an interview over video.
With virtual interviews it’s very easy to get caught up in the practical, tech-based worries. This means that it’s very important to remember to prepare for your interview questions just as thoroughly as you would if the interview was face-to-face. Check out this article for a more detailed look at how to prepare for your job interview. We cover everything from how to research the company before the interview to how to relate your experience to the job spec.
While lots of us may feel we would benefit from having a few pages of notes in front of us during face-to-face interviews, it doesn’t tend to give off a great impression. Yes, it’s good to bring notes into an interview if they relate to questions you have for the interviewer about the job role, but it’s generally frowned upon to bring in notes to help you with your own answers.
However, a good thing about interviews conducted over video call is that you can have a few notes to the side of you that your interviewer won’t necessarily know are there. This might be a source of comfort to you if you are a particularly anxious interviewee, and as long as they’re just a few short bullet points to jog your memory, then you’ll be fine. With that said, it’s important that you don’t over-rely on notes, as your interviewer will notice if you are reading straight off a page.
Writing up notes for your own records during the interview is a different matter altogether. For instance, it would be useful to jot down information about the job role as you go. If you do choose to write up any notes during your interview, make sure you inform your interviewer that this is what you’re doing. If you’re constantly looking down at your keyboard or notepad, it could look as though you aren’t listening, so make sure you explain that you are taking notes.
Any more tips for staying calm during the interview itself?
We mentioned before that you should avoid distractions at all costs, and this means turning off your notifications! You don’t want your phone to be ringing or vibrating throughout your interview. It looks unprofessional to your interviewer, and it will also be a huge distraction to you. And speaking of attention spans, don’t fidget in your chair or wave your arms too expressively when you answer questions! Fidgeting will make you look nervous and out of your depth and will also be off-putting for your interviewer.
If you’re able to, look into the webcam when you’re speaking. We know it feels weird, but doing this creates an illusion of eye contact, which will give your interviewer the impression that you are paying attention to what they have to say and have confidence in what you yourself are saying. In a similar vein, make sure you speak clearly and confidently. When talking to someone on a video call, the sound quality is never going to be as good as it would be if you were face to face. As a result, you need to make an effort to project your voice further to ensure your interviewer can hear you clearly.
And finally, but in fitting with the perils of virtual anything, don’t panic if your connection freezes! It happens to all of us, and it’s really not the end of the world if it happens to you during your interview. In the wake of a connection glitch, take a moment to regather your thoughts. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat their last question if it helps you remember where you left off.