Tips for Online Interviewing

In today’s world of global interaction, corporations are turning ever more frequently to performing online interviews as a way to speed the process and reduce costs. For a variety of factors, it’s difficult for interviewees to achieve the same effectiveness in an online interview as an in-person interview. Here are some tips to help resolve some of those factors and help job applicants to present as professionally as possible.

Professionalism
Due to the confidential nature of job interviewing, many people will use personal settings, such as their den or office at home, to conduct their online interview. This is not a problem as long as you can stage a quiet meeting period with no interruptions. A noisy restaurant would NOT be a good place for such an interview. Turn off your phones and email alerts as well. Ensure the background setting is as uncluttered and as professional as possible. Try to be ready 10 minutes in advance of the interview time to give yourself sufficient prep time in the event the call comes in early. If you have pets or young kids, you should ensure they aren’t able to interrupt your interview.

Dress
Try to minimize the casual setting by dressing as professionally as possible, avoiding clothes with patterns which often don’t appear attractive online. Dark coloured clothes look better than red’s. “Look good, feel good” they say.

Technology

Be sure that you have a solid internet connection with sufficient speed to handle the online session. I strongly recommend a dry run test to verify that you are technically ready for such an important event. Don’t wait until the last minute to download and set-up the software as you may run into unforeseen problems. For example, some services (like Skype) require you to “allow” a connection from someone who is not currently one of your connections so you may have to ensure that setting is on (for Skype, select Tools>Option>Video settings) or simply add the person’s contact address to your list.

You should also ensure that your computing device is fully charged or plugged in to a power source so you don’t lose power in mid-interview. Sound is key so use your dry run to determine the optimal sound level for an interview. If your sound is weak, consider wearing a headset with a mic for better effect. Adjust your camera so that you appear centered in the video display. You can use the picture-in-picture option to make sure you are in the centre of your video shot.

Lighting
It’s important to have adequate lighting that prevents shadows and too much brightness from behind. If you have a window with strong daylight coming through, it might be better to close the blinds or drapes. You are looking for evenness and a flattering effect from your lighting.

Username
Try to use a professional username as opposed to one that you might choose for less formal settings. “Thatbeerlovin’guy” might not go over too well in a business setting.

Posture
It’s best to show your interest by sitting up straight and leaning slightly forward as you would in an in-person interview.

During the Online Interview
For starters, it’s courteous to ask your interviewer if they can see you and hear you clearly. Like any in-person interview, engage your interviewer with direct eye contact. That being said, you should be looking into the camera not at the image of your contact on your monitor. I find it helps to move the image of the person you are speaking with as close to the web cam as possible. If you scan the room or look away from the camera, you might appear untrustworthy or indifferent. It’s easy to appear distracted so try to minimize any nervous ticks or hand gestures (like tapping a pen) during the discussion. The best ideas for engaging your interviewer are to relax, smile, be enthusiastic and stay focused throughout your interview. Wait for the interviewer to stop speaking before you answer.

You still need to do all of the same things you would do to prepare for an in-person interview (research the employer, prepare insightful questions, etc.) for an online interview. One advantage to video interviewing is that it’s possible to prepare notes on what you’d like to cover or questions you’d like to pose that wouldn’t be as well-received in-person. You could also have your resume close at hand. I recommend practicing by recording a mock interview and reviewing it to see what might be improved upon.

Here’s to a productive online interview. Good luck!

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