Much of the world has gone virtual and we are slowly losing the human element and the spontaneity of face-to-face connectivity and conversations. In this era of coronavirus and social distancing, finding and interviewing for a job can be very stressful and nerve-wracking, especially for fresh graduates this year. Job seekers need to convince their future employers that they are competent, have the right experience, and are a good culture fit for the job. This is where the virtual interview plays an important part, for both employer and interviewee in evaluating and determining suitability.
There is now a greater need to master the art of remote interviews. While some may treat it in the same way as an in-person interview, there are unique challenges and opportunities to consider in order to ace your next remote interview.
Get familiar with the interview platform
The first and perhaps most important step is to familiarise yourself with the platform that will be used to conduct the interview. Many employers will share a dial-in number or a link to the video conferencing tool. Take this opportunity to test the platform and practice answering interview questions with your video camera on. You can even record yourself to observe your facial expressions and body language and rehearse how to appear more confident. Nothing’s worse than logging on to your interview, only to face a list of technical issues or face awkwardness in talking to a screen. Getting comfortable with using the technology beforehand can help to ease your anxieties.
Interview from a quiet room
Equally important is to find a quiet room, preferably with a clean background and good lighting. Just like any meeting, choose a place with no noise or visual distractions. The last thing you want to be worried about is your dog barking or showing a messy background to your future employer. Fortunately, some popular video conferencing platforms now provide the option of using a virtual background. Should you use one, ensure that it is simple and not distracting.
Dress for success
It is important to treat remote interviews with the same decorum as if they were face-to-face. Dress as you would for any normal interview to put you in the right mindset for success. If the company or industry requires formal attire, wear a jacket and tie for men, or a suit jacket for women. For more laid-back roles or sectors, a business casual shirt or blouse works fine. Dressing in the right attire shows that you’re serious about the job, respectful of the interviewer’s time, and are genuinely interested in the position. Besides, if you look good, you’ll feel more confident too!
Watch your body language
Did you know that our body language conveys certain signals or cues to the interviewer? For example, leaning in slightly or maintaining eye contact can show that you are interested or are engaged in the conversation. However, with video interviews, such signals can be hard to convey. Instead, try focusing on your posture. Avoid crossing your arms, slouching, or resting your face on your palms. To show that you are relaxed and open, remember to smile and nod occasionally when talking to your interviewer.
Highlight qualities that show remote readiness
While most are likely to continue working from home post-pandemic, graduates need to be familiar and comfortable with using today’s digital tools. To gain an edge over other applicants, highlight your experience with working remotely during the interview. This could include co-developing ideas with colleagues on shared documents and sheets, holding meetings and brainstorms via video conference, or managing complex projects all online.
In addition to these hard skills, it’s good to mention certain soft skills or qualities that are crucial to working in remote teams. It goes without saying that communication and collaboration skills are a must-have now that everyone is working from separate locations. Being adaptable to new ways of working and unexpected situations are also key in today’s unpredictable landscape.
If you’re applying for a leadership role, you can demonstrate your understanding of the current climate by explaining how you would manage remote teams. For example, offering teammates empathy and flexibility beat prioritising efficiency during this period, particularly when many are juggling added household responsibilities while working from home. Cite examples of how you have supported your team such as gifting food delivery vouchers or organising virtual drinks to toast team successes.
Follow up with a thank you note
After the interview, send the interviewer a note to thank them for their time and share what you found most interesting from your conversation. If there were any questions you struggled to answer, take this opportunity to craft a thoughtful follow-up response. Not only will it show that you are proactive, but it also will leave a lasting impression on your interviewer.
Finding a job and interviewing for a role can be challenging, especially during these troubling times. However, doing your research and being prepared for the interview can help to boost your confidence and ease your worries. With time and practice, you too can ace your next online interview and land your dream job.
Joey Lim, Lark Vice President of Commercial, Asia