Interviews are one of the most challenging stages in one’s career. The thought that a stranger can ask you any questions for 45 minutes to 1 hour is nerve-wracking.
COVID has made this even harder, as most interviews are conducted online via remote collaboration tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, etc. During virtual interviews, the factors you have to keep in mind are different from in-person interviews.
Being mindful of these differences can help anyone ace their online interviews and stand out from the crowd. Here are five tips to increase your chances of getting your dream job.
1. Have a Good Background
Picture this: You are watching a movie and engrossed in it. Suddenly, someone keeps walking in between your line of sight. Would you be distracted? The answer is a resounding Yes. The same applies to virtual interviews as well.
When attending these interviews, you need to make sure your background is free of distractions that could steer the interviewer’s attention from you. You do not want your pets, kids, or objects moving in the background, and your goal is to have their fullest attention, starting with keeping your surroundings clean.
If you find tidying up difficult, use a virtual background or a backdrop (preferably plain in color) that can mask all the objects within the viewing area of the tool you are using. Before your call, test your video screen with a friend to ensure everything is set up correctly, and that your audio and camera are working correctly as well.
2. Dress Professionally
One of the common misconceptions about virtual interviews is that you do not need to dress up, which is far from the truth. Like onsite interviews, the interviewers judge you by the way you look, which is a human tendency.
Make yourself appear professional and treat these interviews like in-person interviews. Organizations respect people who take their interviews seriously, and dressing up professionally is one way of showing your interest in working for that particular company.
3. Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Body language and tone of voice are essential parts of our daily communication. In 1971, Albert Mehrabian, a researcher on non-verbal communication, came up with the “7%-38%-55%” rule, which became popular worldwide and remains relevant. He found that words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55% of daily communication. This means an astounding 93% of our daily communication is non-verbal.
So, it is important to pay attention to non-verbal cues when communicating in online interviews. Maintaining eye contact when talking to the person on the screen makes the conversation more effective – one tip is to move the interviewer’s picture/window to near your computer’s camera, for this (and your own picture too, so you know if you have spinach in your teeth). If you have multiple screens, do not keep turning your head as it is distracting. If you have to turn to refer to something during an interview, jot down those points in sticky notes and stick them on the sides of your main screen used for the discussion. In this way, your focus would look more natural.
Also, be aware of whether you are rocking in your chair, shaking your leg, your facial expressions, and your tone of voice. All these important factors for onsite interviews hold for virtual interviews as well.
4. Prepare Ice Breakers
When you meet someone for the first time, it helps if you do some research on them. Think of it like meeting your in-laws for the first time. Before you meet the person, you may look at their social media profile, take notes on their interest areas, and find some commonalities between you both to strike up an interesting conversation. This applies to virtual interviews as well.
Before you get on the interview call, use LinkedIn to look at your interviewer’s profile. Take notes on their interest areas and find some commonalities between you and them to use as an ice breaker conversation. For example, if you find out the interviewer volunteers at the same place as you, then open up the conversation saying, “Hey, by the way, I noticed that you volunteer at the Red Cross, I do the same as well.” This will immediately grab the interviewer’s attention.
According to research, It takes a tenth of a second to make a first impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments). So these ice breaker conversations help create that positive first impression you need to crack the interview.
5. Record Yourself Answering Commonly Asked Questions
One of the main reasons people fail interviews is that they do not give succinct replies to some commonly asked questions; that you know will be asked. Some of them include:
- Tell me about yourself
- What do you know about our company?
- Tell me about a time where you solved a complex problem?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why should I hire you?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Instead of thinking about answering these questions and blurting out whatever comes to your mind, prepare for it in advance.
Record yourself answering those questions using video recording tools and analyze how you are doing. At first, it may feel intimidating, but the more you practice the answers, the more comfortable you get in answering them during the interview. Do your homework.
Acing virtual interviews is not difficult if you prepare for them well in advance and follow these strategies. Best of luck, and remember to mute yourself when sneezing!!
Raj Subrameyer is a tech career strategist
focusing on helping people to land their dream job and become successful
leaders. He has given multiple TEDx talks and is a sought-after speaker at
various conferences and has been featured in numerous TV news segments,
podcasts, and publications. His areas of expertise include career advancement,
leadership, motivation, productivity, and entrepreneurship. In his spare time,
he loves traveling and enjoying craft beer. You can find more info about how he
serves people through his website, www.rajsubra.com.
Twitter handle – https://twitter.com/epsilon11
Full name: Raj Subrameyer
Title – Tech Career Strategist, Author & Keynote Speaker
Company – ChaiLatte Consulting
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