7 Tips for Acing Your Online Interview
As recruiters who hunt for talent from around the world, we’ve conducted thousands of online interviews. We’ve experienced the best of the best and, unfortunately, the worst of the worst.
Since video conferencing is currently king, it’s critical that you take the time to prepare in advance and set the stage for your success. To help you ace your next online interview, we’ve created a list of our go-to tips.
In some ways, online interviews can be easier than in-person. Why? Well for one, they allow you to strategically place talking points around your computer screen so you can easily reference examples, results, and experiences.
If you have an interview coming up, take a few minutes to write out 5-10 examples of your top accomplishments, key projects, measurable results, tough challenges, and career highlights.
The disadvantage to a remote environment is you don’t pick up on the conscious and subconscious cues that you do in a one-on-one interview. Take time to consider some of the things you won’t be able to assess remotely. Here are a few questions to help you get the curiosity juices flowing:
- > What’s important to you about your office environment?
- > What do you need to know about the team culture?
- > What do you need to know about management and leadership norms?
As you prepare for your interview, consider how you can craft thoughtful questions that demonstrate curiosity and also help you determine if this opportunity is the right fit for you.
Don’t be a party crasher
Although testing the interview platform in advance is important, be mindful that the link provided for your meeting might not be unique; it might be the same link your future employer uses for other meetings.
So instead of accidentally crashing someone else’s meeting or job interview, set up your own private A/V test session with a peer or friend. You can also use this as an opportunity to take your talking points for a spin. Are they easy to read? Are they visible to the person you’re chatting with?
On the day of the interview, if you’re keen to sign on early, only do it about 3-5 minutes in advance and not any earlier.
For a few more practical tech tips, check out Seth Godin’s post, Zoom Tips for the Modern Age. In it, he covers some of the basic best practices for video conferencing.
Keep calm and carry on
Keep your cool — don’t let background hiccups unnerve you. “Sometimes your camera won’t work, the dog may bark, or you might knock your water over your desk”, shares Allison Brewerton, Talent Acquisition professional. “We are all in the same boat right now. Sometimes unplanned hiccups can be a great icebreaker or memorable moment; this also allows you to demonstrate in real-time how well you can stay calm under stress.”
If you know there are a few uncontrollable elements in your environment, highlight them early in the conversation. If you have kiddos, pets, or any other potential surprise visitors, mention them at the top of the call and thank the interviewer in advance for their patience and understanding.
Drop the narcissism
Although online video apps offer that helpful “picture in picture” screen, it can also heighten your sense of self-awareness and lead to other distracting habits like constantly fluffing your hair or pushing your glasses up.
We get it — it’s hard to ignore yourself when your live image is staring right back at you. Consider covering your video window with a sticky note so you can focus on rotating between looking into the camera and looking directly at the person you’re meeting with. This will help you maintain good eye contact and even better engagement.
Show a little personality. Sharing a screen means you’re probably sharing a part of your home or personal life. Get creative and use this as an opportunity to enhance your environment with a few things that are meaningful for you. Maybe it’s the latest leadership book you’ve been reading on your desk or your child’s latest finger painting on your wall behind you. This is your opportunity to get real.
This is also a great way to break the ice if you’re asked, “tell me about yourself” or “how is your day going so far”. Having one or two items in your environment gives you the chance to offer a more authentic or vulnerable response than what you may have shared in a formal in-person interview.
Build a connection
Imagine the interviewer is sitting right across the table from you, in person. Even though there’s a screen between you, lean in and use gestures and facial expressions to demonstrate enthusiasm and build a connection.
Keep in mind that you’re likely one of many people your interviewer has chatted with today. For them, video conferencing fatigue may have already set in. So bring the energy and aim to connect. Finding ways to engage, connect, or even share common interests might be the refreshing moment your interviewer needs to help identify you as a stand apart candidate.
Follow up in a memorable or meaningful way
Use your creativity to send a meaningful follow up after your interview. Harvard Business Review suggests “… if an interviewer brought up a particular business challenge, use the follow-up as a way to propose potential solutions.”
Consider crafting a quick video clip that not only includes your thanks but also perhaps a few summary points about the value you can bring to the organization and role. If a video’s not your thing, draft an email. Maybe even include links to relevant leadership articles.
Keep your follow up genuine, succinct, and solution focused and it’s sure to be memorable.