After nearly two years, it can still be difficult to conduct meetings online, especially when they are as important as a job interview. There are a few key actions you can take to mitigate any disasters writes Tina Kinirons in the recently published Career Guide, brought to you by Barden and Chartered Accountants Ireland.
1. Dress as for a face-to-face interview
The usual recommendation for interviews is to dress in formal or business attire. This still applies for online interviews. Yes, the interviewers can only see your head and upper body – but it’s still important that you dress for the job you aspire to. Make sure you are comfortable and confident in what you are wearing.
2. Keep your background uncluttered
Try to keep the background that is visible on the screen to your interviewers as neutral and uncluttered as possible ensuring there are no distractions for your interviewers. It’s worth checking what’s visible on your screen when you are sitting in the place you plan to do your interview. You should avoid a virtual background, as they can look a bit fake and can usually be detected by the human eye. Find a quiet place that has a neutral background instead.
3. Make sure you are well lit
Cameras need good lighting to show you properly on screen. That might mean turning on your lights, opening or closing blinds, or bringing an extra light into the room. You should be prepared for a sunny or dark day. Test your lighting beforehand to make sure you are clearly visible on-screen.
4. Make sure you can be heard
Many of the microphones integrated into devices don’t have good enough sound quality for an interview. Test it out to check that you can be heard clearly. A set of headphones can make a big difference to how well the interviewers can hear you, so buy or borrow a set.
5. Be aware of your camera
The equivalent to looking an interviewer in the eye is to look at the camera instead of the person on the screen. It’s important to keep looking at the camera and at the interviewers, as you can pick up on body language cues from them in the same way you would in a face-to-face interview. Adjust your camera by putting your laptop on a few books or adjust your seat to get the camera in line with your eyes and include your shoulders and a bit of your upper body in the frame.
6. Ensure there are no distractions
Think about where you will conduct your interview and how you can make sure there are no distractions and no noise. Consider putting a sign on the door (of the room and house) stating you need quiet, and find a spot that doesn’t see any foot traffic while you’re at your interview.
7. Have a good internet connection
Test Zoom, Teams, WebEx or whatever platform you will use for the interview in the morning before the scheduled time. Is your internet connection usually stable from where you will conduct the interview? If it’s not very reliable or fast enough, move. The interviewers need to be able to hear and see you clearly.
8. Practice talking online if inexperienced
Try out the online environment you will use for your interview. Get comfortable talking online if you are not already using an online platform for meetings. You need to be focused on the interview questions and your answers, not worrying about the technology and your use of it.
9. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Planning and practicing apply to all interviews, whether online or not. Plan out your interview examples and decide what best demonstrates which competency. Remind yourself of the details of your examples from your previous work and practice describing them out loud. Don’t let the first time you hear yourself speak your answers out loud be at your interview.
10. Be early
Same advice as for face-to-face interviews – get there early to avoid any last-minute panics. Logging in before the scheduled time will ensure you can connect to the meeting, there is no issue with your internet connection, and that you have the lighting right.
Tina Kinirons is a business psychologist and interview coach.
You can read this article and others in Career Guide 2021/2022.