Preparing for a Virtual Interview

You've applied for a job and got the call – they want an interview! As the excitement wears off, it hits you. The scheduler on the phone told you it was a Virtual Interview. Interviews are stressful enough, but compounded with the virtual environment they can be overwhelming. To help you navigate the Virtual Interview, we talked to Career Counselor Altonia Bryant, from Rowan’s Office of Career Advancement, to find out the best tips and tricks to nailing your virtual interview.


Altonia Bryant sits at her deskResearch

Just like an in-person interview, it is essential to do your research beforehand. Conduct a Google search of the company and also make sure to browse their website. You want to make sure you are familiar with the company, their mission and the department to which you are applying.

Bryant also stresses the importance of using the job description to prep yourself for the interview. “Instead of searching online for a list of possible interview questions, use the job description to prepare. Many times people don’t realize the interview questions are right in front of them. The job description is a list of everything the employers want to see in a candidate.” Bryant also says that interviews are really the art of storytelling, “Spend some time looking through the responsibilities and qualifications for the job. Then prepare examples from your own experience that showcase these skills.”

Pro Tip

If you don’t have the job description for the position you applied for, reach out to the interview scheduler. They will be able to send you a copy of it.


Familiarize Yourself with the Platform

There are quite a few video conferencing platforms, and it's possible that the platform your potential employer chooses is not the one you are most familiar with. Make sure that the first day you use the platform is not the day of the interview. Here are a few tips:

  • Download the platform several days before the interview
  • Test the technology with a friend to make sure there are no issues
  • Make sure you know how to access the Virtual Interview Meeting
  • Practice using the screen share option

Pro Tips

  • Speaker View: Make sure you know how to change the view setting so that you only see the speaker. Looking at all of the interviewers in the grid view may be overwhelming, and even distracting. Speaker view allows you to remain focused on just the interviewer asking you the question.  
  • Display Name: Check that YOUR name is displayed. If other people in your household use your computer, check ahead of time that your name is displayed when you join a video conference meeting. Make sure that you show both your first and last name.

Environment

Before you start your interview, check the environment around you to ensure it looks professional.

  • Virtual Background: If your computer supports a Virtual Background, utilize the feature. Set the virtual background ahead of time, so it's ready to go when you join the meeting.
  • Physical Background: Ensure the space is clutter-free and be mindful of what is in the background and on your walls.
  • Inform Your Housemates: Tell people you live with that you will be interviewing at the time. Don't assume that your housemates know you have an interview. As an extra precaution, place a sign on the door so everyone knows not to interrupt you.
  • Turn off your phone: Don't just put your phone on vibrate. Even a vibrating phone can be audible, and you don't want to distract yourself or your interviewers during the meeting.
  • Body Language: If you are interviewing in a swivel chair, be careful that you don't move or swivel while interviewing. Also, keep your attention focused on the camera so that you look attentive.
  • Lighting: When choosing where in your house you will be interviewing, make sure that it has adequate lighting. The interviewers will want to see you clearly. 

Dress for Success

Even though your interviewers may only see you from the shoulders up, it's still important to put on your whole interview outfit. Taking the time to prep yourself will help you get into the mood and mindset of an interview.When choosing an outfit form your wardrobe, make sure that you choose a neutral color.


Prepare for the Worst

Of course, your nightmare scenario would be for everything to go wrong the day of the interview, which is why it's essential to have backup plans ready to go.

  • If you plan to share a presentation, create an email draft ahead of time with the document attached. If you are having trouble sharing the presentation during the interview, you can quickly email it out to the interviewers.
  • Have a backup device, like a phone or tablet, charged and the video conference platform installed so you can use that alternatively.
  • Write down the Dial-In phone number for the Video Conference ahead of time. If the power goes out, you can still Dial-in to the interview.

Day Of the Interview

Now that you are ready to ace your next virtual interview, make sure that you arrive on time for the Virtual Interview. Our experts say that interviewees should plan to log into the meeting 10 minutes before the scheduled start of the interview. 

After the interview

What you do after an interview is just as important as what you do during an interview. Between 24 and 48 hours of the interview you should send out a Thank You email to each interviewer you met with. Make sure to include your name, the date you met with them, and the position you were interviewing for. 

Good luck and remember to keep calm; you've got this!


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