How to Ace your Virtual Interview
Written by Clare Chong
With the prevalence of videoconferencing tools such as Zoom, it is increasingly common for employers to hold virtual interviews as part of their hiring process.
While interview questions may more or less be similar, pitching yourself via videoconferencing tools could be unfamiliar for most of us who are used to in-person interviews.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Before the Virtual Interview
- Ensuring that the technological equipment is ready
The first thing you should do is to make sure that your device is fully charged. Then, do a few trial tests of the video conferencing tool you will be using such as checking your webcam, audio, WIFI connection to see if they are all working properly. Ensure that the conferencing software is up to date and you have a professional photo of yourself as the avatar.
Employers are also looking for candidates who are digital-savvy and well-prepared. Familiarity with remote working tools would at least assure the hiring manager that you can work from home when the need arises.
- Prepare and Dress Appropriately
Take time to do your research about the organisation and role beforehand. Some things that you can find out and prepare would be motivation for joining the company and the value you can bring to the position. Come up with possible questions to ask the interviewer(s) as well to further showcase your interest in the role you are applying for. Role-play and practise the responses with a friend via the videoconferencing tool to get comfortable with presenting yourself virtually.
Even though you would not be physically present at the company, you should still dress the part. Wearing business attire or business casual would convey to the hiring manager that you are serious about the job.
- Choosing a clutter-free, well-lit and quiet setting
Most of the time, we would be taking the virtual interview from home. Ensure that you leave a good first impression by keeping the setting clutter-free, quiet and well-lit. If you are in a room, it would be best to close the door and use headphones to avoid sudden interruptions or distractions from your pets, family members or your neighbours. Be mindful of using virtual backgrounds if you are uncomfortable with showing glimpses of your surroundings. Choose something that best represents your branding e.g. campus background or artwork portfolio but still comes across as professional and neat.
During the Virtual Interview
- Honing your Delivery
Audience engagement could be especially challenging as we are limited to only half of our body and we are not able to see or utilise the full spectrum of social cues or body language to spark a meaningful conversation.
Firstly, you could remind yourself to slow down. Unlike an in-person interview where we can communicate with body language and non-verbal cues, we do need to slow down a little while we are online as these cues may be less visible via videoconferencing. Slowing down your speech could allow your interviewers to follow and respond to you better and you will tend to use fewer fillers such as “ah”, “eh” or “ums”.
Secondly, remember to look at your web-cam directly as you are speaking instead of looking at your computer screen or your interview notes. You may want to practise and get used to this with a friend so that you can rectify awkward and distracting behaviours before the actual interview.
Thirdly, do vary your intonation and avoid monotonous delivery. While you should be professional and serious about the role, you shouldn’t sound boring. Speaking loudly and clearly while emphasizing keywords with appropriate emotions would serve you well in engaging your interviewers.
- Telling your story
Convincing your interviewers that you are the best candidate for the job is somewhat similar to a sales pitch where you are the product you wish to sell.
Showcase your enthusiasm for the role by connecting how your passion or interest value adds to the organisation’s mission. What is it about the role that may potentially connect to your personal values? For example, you may be someone who enjoys problem-solving and presenting creative solutions to clients in your prior experience--how can you use that experience to solve issues for the company you are applying to?
What sets you apart from other candidates? That would be one key takeaway you want to leave with your interviewers by the end of the interview. You should spotlight not just your competencies but also your personal attributes that could make you uniquely qualified. Perhaps you are a writer with strong financial and technical expertise? Or are you a technical expert with talent in selling ideas to clients? Draw attention to your unique selling point with something like, “ If there’s one thing that sets me apart from other candidates, it’s this…”
Have crisp, relevant anecdotes to share with your interviewers. These stories could help you to answer questions such as “Tell me about a time you faced a big challenge” or “Have you ever tried and failed at something before?”
The introduction should set the context, with a body that highlights the key challenges or difficulties faced and end with a resolution that reflects your personal and professional growth from this episode. Be mindful of the choice of words. Try to use inclusive and empathetic words that reflect you are part of a team e.g. “We” instead of “I” or “understood my clients’ concerns”.
Follow Up with a Thank You Email
You could also follow up with a thank-you email within 24 hours of the interview and include a summary of why you would be the best candidate for the position and convey your enthusiasm for the potential opportunity to join the company.
Just finished your interview and thinking that there's more to be done?
Then you're right! in fact, there are a number of things that you must do to elevate your chances for the job.
In our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, 28 September, at 6.30 pm, we share some follow-up tips that might help you stand out among the others for the role!
Register your seat here: