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Get Hired Remotely - Nailing the Virtual Interview

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

Prep and perfect your video interview skills. In our Get Hired Remotely series we share tips and advice for getting hired in a digital work world.

While most companies have been recruiting online for years, virtual interviewing is relatively new as many hiring managers still prefer to meet and assess candidates in person. Handshake reports that as many as 89% of employers are adopting or increasing their virtual interviews.

Virtual interviews are here to stay as companies can save time and costs by not having to make sure everyone on the interview panel is in the office on the same day or flying candidates in for interviews.

Nailing the Virtual Interview – Be aware of the “rules”

The rules for virtual interviews are a lot like the rules for in person interviews but it can take a bit more preparation.

Do Your Research – News and background info

It should go without saying that you should research your prospective employer, check out their website, press bulletins, and social media pages. You can also connect with current employees there to get a leg up on networking and ask for an informational interview about what it’s like to work there. It’s important to show you are knowledgeable about the company’s products or services.

Prepare Questions in Advance – Use sticky notes but keep them out of sight

Most interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask questions so prepare a list in advance. Include open ended questions such as “you mentioned this department is launching xyz product, what role will this position play in that?” or “can you share why you joined the company and have stayed?”

Keep post-it notes and prompts handy but out of sight. The nice thing about a virtual interview is the interviewers view of you and your surroundings is limited

Listen closely to what the interviewer says and make a mental note to ask for more details. Check out our article on Great Questions to Ask During an Interview” for a list of questions to ask.

Test Your Audio and Video – Have the Link and Password Handy

Don’t assume that because you’ve done Zooms before your equipment will work perfectly when you most need it to. Make sure you test your audio and video in advance.

Pro Tip- Check out what conferencing system the company uses and be sure to download any updates if applicable. Keep the link to meeting ID and passcode handy. Close any windows so that unexpected outdoor noises don’t disturb you.

Dress The Part – Front and Background

Keep your interview outfit clean and pressed and make sure the colors don’t clash with your background. Remove any clutter or unnecessary items such as personal photos that might be distracting to the interviewer. But don’t interview against a blank white wall either, place some books or a plant nearby to create a cozy but professional environment. If you have roommates, let them know not to disturb you and keep any pets locked away safely.

Friendly and Professional – Smile and Greet the Interviewer

You can’t give greet a virtual interviewer with the usual handshake but you should still smile and greet the person by name. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you and express your excitement and interest in the position.

Practice Active Listening

Once the interview gets started practice active listening but respond with appropriate head nodding or other affirmations of understanding to show the interviewer you are engaged. Jot down some notes or questions to ask later – we recommend writing not typing your notes.

Relax – Go With the Flow

For an in person interview you should always bring additional copies of your resume, samples of your work or portfolio. This isn’t possible for virtual interviews so don’t get rattled if the interviewer can’t find your resume or reveals they haven’t actually read it yet!

If this happens, take the lead by sharing a brief summary of your background and skills to give the interviewer something to work with. This will give the interviewer time to find your resume without having an awkward silence in between.

Prepare Back Stories – But don’t over rehearse

If you have listed “increased sales by x%” on your resume be sure you can speak to this accomplishment by sharing how you did this and what challenges you overcame. Don’t include anything on your resume that you don’t have a back story to.

At the same time, you don’t want to appear over rehearsed. Try asking a mentor or coach to do a mock interview with you.

Keep In Touch – write a thank you note

After the interview is over, write a brief thank you email thanking the interviewer for their time and mention something that came up during the call. Be sure to express your continued interest and excitement about the role. If you don’t have their contact info, send the note to the recruiter and ask her to forward it on.

Check your email frequently for any next steps (or additional interviews) and respond timely. If you are taking some time off or are going to be out of email contact for a while be sure to let the recruiter know.

This article is part of our Get Hired Remotely series; job search and career advice for your digital work world.

Arche helps people architect, navigate and advance their career path with expert advice and tools to support your job search, interview preparation, professional branding, salary negotiations, and career advancement. 

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