Insights & Ideas

Virtual reality: How to ace an online job interview

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Virtual job interviews are now the norm. Here’s what you need to know.

Although the pandemic was challenging, there are a few good things to come out of it. One is the virtual job interview.

There are benefits to interviewing online

Although it might sound awkward at first, a virtual interview has several advantages over an in-person meeting, such as:

  • You do the interview in an environment you choose
  • It eliminates the stresses of getting to an unfamiliar office
  • It’s easier to schedule and takes less time out of your day
  • You can hide reference notes/cheat sheets just out of camera view
  • No need to wear uncomfortable shoes … or any shoes …

Tricks for acing your online interview

Since many of us are used to doing virtual meetings now, we can leverage those learnings for completing a successful virtual job interview. To impress potential employers, remember these best practices:

  • Prepare like it’s a normal job interview: Even though a virtual interview might feel casual, it’s still a job interview. Dress nicely, research the organization in advance, practice your sales pitch, be on time, etc.
  • Ask for logistics info in advance: Request information on the length of the interview, the people involved, the software you’ll need, and the technology backup plan (e.g., what happens if the video conference doesn’t work).
  • Test the tech: Get familiar with the meeting software in advance and figure out which of your devices has the best sound/camera. Test everything with a friend a few days before the interview and then test it again an hour or so before the interview to be sure you’re ready.
  • Set the stage: Choose a background that looks professional (no unmade beds or messy desks), experiment with lighting, and do your best to make sure the dogs/kids/partners are not seen or heard.
  • Act like a virtual meeting pro: Avoid small talk about how “interviewing online feels weird” or making comments about the meeting software (unless they ask for it).
  • Look the camera “in the eye”: It’s human nature to look at the screen—after all that’s where you can see the interviewers—and probably yourself. Instead, try to look at the camera so interviewers feel like you’re engaging with them. (If you’ve prepared reference notes for the interview, stick them right next to the camera so you don’t lose eye contact.)

In reality, a virtual interview is pretty similar to an in-person interview. Hopefully, your interview will go so well, that someday—when it’s safe to go out again—you’ll get to meet your interviewers in person!

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