Many employers conduct virtual interviews via phone, pre-recorded video questions, or live video calls as a way to maximize time. Now in light of COVID-19, video interviews are the only way to maintain social distancing during a job search, so it is more important than ever to have proper video interview etiquette. While typical interview standards apply, video interviews have a few unique components. Below are some best practices to help you ace your next virtual interview.
Before the Interview
Simple, small adjustments to your setup can add professional value. Follow this checklist to minimize distractions and build your confidence.
- Ensure your space has good, flattering lighting. This will help the employer clearly see you and not be distracted by offputting lighting. Don’t have a light behind you. Consider facing or being next to a window for soft, natural light. This allows employers to focus on hearing why you are a great fit for their company. Check out this resource for more lighting tips.
- Find a flattering camera angle. Position your camera at eye level so employers can see you from the shoulders up. Use books to prop up your laptop or camera if need be.
- Look into the camera. Just as you would make eye contact during an interview, look into the camera to create virtual eye contact. If you look at the screen, it appears as if you are looking down. This takes some practice but is very effective.
- Use a simple background. While your Avengers poster is fun, consider removing it or a different location. Don’t bring unnecessary distractions into your call. Let the interviewers focus on you and what you have to say.
- Keep your notes next to you. Don’t multitask unless you are writing down something important. Let the interviewer know you might be taking notes so they know you are engaged if you break eye contact to write. Also, have a copy of your resumé and cover letter next to your pad and pen. You never know when you’ll need to reference your resumé.
- Minimize surrounding noise. Use headphones with a microphone so surrounding noises do not get picked up. Let family and roommates know when you are interviewing so they can help keep background noise to a minimum during your interview.
- Test out your technology. Be sure to download any video conferencing apps you need for the interview and do a practice interview with a friend, family member or Career Specialist a few days prior to your interview. This will allow you to work through any potential problems such as microphones not working, background noise, apps not working or other issues.
- Watch this inspirational TedTalk on the power of body language. Practice the superhero pose before your interview. This will help you feel as if you already aced the interview.
Additional Preparation: Answering Interview Questions
Preparing for and answering interview questions on a video call is the same as in person. Practice timing yourself and providing responses between one to two minutes. Prepare to answer basic questions like “Tell me about yourself” and “Why are you interested in this role?” Employers also expect you to use the STAR Method when answering behavioral questions. Think through industry or job-specific questions you might be asked. Write these down and practice.
- Practice using Big Interview. Use your Biola University email address for free access to this online platform to practice video interviewing.
- Do a mock interview. The Career Center can help you prepare by practicing mock interview questions live via video or phone. Schedule an appointment through Handshake.
- Have questions to ask the employer. Do your research on the company and prepare thoughtful questions for them. Did you notice a new project or client? Are you curious about company culture? Have three to five questions ready.
- Use the Interview Tool on GlassDoor.com. This is a great way to see what interview questions the employer has asked in the past. Practice these questions but still be prepared for others.
During the Interview
Once it’s time for the interview, there are a few best practices that can help develop an interview mindset. They will also help the employer know you are excited for the position, prepared and value their time.
- Dress to impress. Even though the interviewers can only see you from waist-up, dress professionally from head to toe. This will help you feel professional and save you from embarrassment if for some reason you need to get up and move. You don’t want anyone to see your Spongebob Squarepants pajama pants! Think about colors that might look good on screen - anything in the blue family is always a safe bet. Stay away from bright designs and patterns as they cause the camera to “buzz”. Steer clear of colors like magenta and red, as bright colors can mess with the camera as well. For men, wear a collared shirt and a tie, and wear a jacket or blazer. For women, a modest, professional top and subtle jewelry will ensure that the lighting does not reflect off your accessories or create a distraction.
- Show that you are engaged. During your conversation, be sure to smile, nod, lean forward a bit, maintain eye contact with the camera and show that you are listening. This will help simulate the in-person experience of connecting with your interviewer.
- Share your screen to showcase projects. Do you have a project you want to reference? Feel free to send it to the employer ahead of time in an email. Another option is to have it up in a separate tab on your screen. You can mention the project and then ask if you can quickly share your screen for them to see what you are talking about.
- What to do when you can’t shake hands. When you join the video call, warmly greet the interviewer with a smile. Tell them you are thankful for taking time to speak with you. Feel free to ask how they are doing. This can help you connect more with them. Finally, start with a great intro to who you are by preparing your Tell Me About Yourself answer.
- Use Post-It notes (sparingly). Have a few key talking points you want to remember, a few questions you want to make sure to ask? Put a couple of sticky notes at eye level on your screen, so the employer will not know you are looking at them.
Roll with the Punches
Sometimes despite all the preparation you do, things may still go awry. Whether you have a technical issue or feel like you could have answered a question better, it is important to remain flexible and calm. Take a deep breath, and remember that you are doing the best you can. You got this!
Jasmyn Alvarez is the Career Specialist for Business Professions in the Career Center.