How to Prepare for Your Next Virtual Interview

Preparing for Your Virtual Interview

It's hard to believe that less than 3 years ago we were all steaming our suits, and trying to decide which pair of socks still let us express ourselves - without saying: "I really don't care what you think of me". No one can deny, the interview process had changed completely since the pandemic. For better or for worse: it is now mandatory that candidates know how to prepare, execute, and follow up on remote interviews.

I started my recruiting career in November 2019. A very short 4 months later - in March 2020 - everything about hiring was different. Now don't get me wrong: 5 months isn't a lot of tenure in any field. But when you're interviewing 4-8 people a day, you start to notice some - similarities in the presentation and performance of candidates who get the jobs. Believe it or not, being in front of a webcam or on the phone can actually accentuate some of these qualities.

Don't Freak Out:

The biggest obstacle companies are now facing when it comes to remote hiring is that there is a huge interpersonal disconnect. It's important that hiring managers are able to have a conversation with the "real you", and not the fight-or-flight version. Don't get me wrong, interviewing is a nerve-racking thing! Even when you're conducting an interview! Not giving yourself time to relax can cause you to go into the conversation carrying whatever stress your day has already put on you, along with that of having to do an interview. I typically recommend blocking off 1.5 hours before an interview. 1 hour for prep (outlined below), and 30 minutes to cool down.

Destination Interview:

Choose your destination wisely. It's a vain thing to say, but people only have a 12" x 10" box to go off, and they will judge you for what is inside it. For example, I once interviewed a candidate who was in bed, and needless to say... they did not get the position. Your background doesn't have to be anything fancy - it just needs to be clean. A blank wall or a wall in front of a bookcase is never a bad idea. It always helps if there's natural light. If you don't have access to natural light, be sure your background and your face is illuminated.

People Eat with Their Eyes, Especially on Camera:

I remember going for my first interview. It was for a job on a farm picking Strawberries. My mom made me wear a blazer. I felt like the biggest fool in the 7th grade, but by the end of the summer: I was also one of the richest fools in the 7th grade (or at least I thought so). The adage is tried and true: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. As someone who has hired people in the past, and worked in the industry, it's no coincidence that people who look the part (and present well) usually get the job. The gesture is even more appreciated in a market where attire is no longer prioritized. Putting effort into how you look, as one of the easiest, most effective ways of showing both self-respect and respect for the occasion. That being said: it is a privileged assumption thinking access to interview attire is guaranteed. We've provided links to websites below that provide affordable attire to help you prepare for your next interview:

Test Your Tech!!!:

You are ready! You look great, you have your personalized socks on, you're being yourself, and your background is perfect in its Snake Plant/Bookcase ratio.... and your computer dies... This may arguably be our most important tip: test your technology. Needing to update Zoom for 5 minutes as your interview starts isn't just unprofessional and reflects a lack of preparedness, it disengages the person you are trying to sell yourself to. For example: glancing at your phone for 30 seconds during a period of deep work can result in a 20-minute delay for your brain to get back to where it was. Imagine how long it will take you and your hiring managers to re-engage if you have to wait 5 minutes to update Zoom, 15 minutes for your computer to reboot, ex. Test your tech!

On-Time is Late. Be Early:

This one's a no-brainer. Come 10 minutes early. Test your tech, adjust your background, move your camera. Whatever you need to do, just make sure you give yourself time and then some. This is especially crucial for first-round interviews. If it's a phone call, find a quiet room and wait. The market is increasingly competitive right now. We are receiving 50-100 applications a week for one job. If you are not ready, guaranteed hiring managers will use the remaining 50 minutes of your call time to find someone who is.

Digital Communication is different than Interpersonal Communication:

Now I'm just flexing my Communications Degree, but Digital Communication is world's different than talking to someone in person. The main obstacles are the platforms themselves and environments to which we have to adapt to, meaning: when we speak in person we do not need to allocate for network lag, or the Vice President's son taking a header off the couch. I recommend 3 things to help you with this: a pen, a notepad, and a voice recorder of some kind. The pen and notepad are to jot down your thoughts if you get interrupted or someone needs to hop off, but it's the voice-recorder that makes a real difference here. Speaking through video or phone can warp our voices or even speed them up. Having the ability to hear, analyze, and regulate the pacing of your speech is very important, not to mention - an invaluable leadership skill set.