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How to Ace Your Online Interview

One of the biggest changes of Pandemic Life has been the widespread adoption of video calls through platforms such as Skype and Zoom, allowing many of us not only to do our jobs, but to home school our children, keep in touch with our family and friends, and so on. This is one trend that's here to stay - despite the fact that it makes many of us uncomfortable and longing to leave our microphones permanently on mute - and nowhere is this truth more evident than in the dreaded online video interview.

When it comes to online interviews versus the old-school in-person method, there’s a whole other level of concern to take into account: lighting, face-framing, unreliable tech, and overstretched bandwidth, to name but a few. You now need to up your interview game - so here are our top tips for doing so:

1. Technical know-how

First off - do use a laptop or computer with a fixed webcam, rather than your phone, as the quality is likely to be better, and you won't be tempted to pick it up and move it around. On the day itself, close down all other programs to avoid a slow-down of your system, and to ensure that your interview isn’t interrupted by any alert chimes or pop-ups.

Also: find out which platform the hiring company will be using to chat on, and do a trial run before the big day if you can, making sure the software works, and that your microphone has good sound quality.

2. Best Face Forward

Correct face framing is important in an online interview, so make sure you position the camera so that you're looking up slightly and centred on the screen. You can always stack books under your computer if you don’t have a table at exactly the right height.

Do remember to look at the camera itself - if you’re looking at the interviewer's eyes on the screen, to them, it seems like you’re looking down. So create a sense of eye contact by shifting your gaze between the screen and the camera regularly. That way, you’re making the connection, without accidentally staring them down.

3. Lights, Camera, Action...

If possible, look for a location with natural light and try and face the light source. If the light is behind you, it can create shadows. Checking for lighting issues is a must, as it may show that you need to shift your position in the room, bring in table lamps, or open/close curtains to get things just right.

In terms of what’s in shot behind you, try and find a plain, neutral and clutter-free background if you can (not like our friend below). And don't be tempted to use a virtual background for interviews, as it can come off as if you're hiding something suspicious (do you live in a dungeon?!).

4. Slowly does it

While many speakers, microphones, and headsets offer stellar sound quality, you can never predict exactly how you’ll come through. So when you talk during your video interview, slow down, make sure you enunciate your words, and remember that in some cases, internet lag will mean that it can take a moment after a person speaks for that to transmit to the other participant.

Jumping in with your response too soon can mute the other person’s mic and cut them off entirely—making you seem rude - so once you think your interviewer is done, take a moment before you answer. In the same vein, do try and signal the end of your answer, especially if it’s a long one. You can do this through a visual cue like nodding or you can make sure you conclude your answer strongly or ask the interviewer a question. A long silence while your interviewer guesses whether or not you’re done can get awkward fast otherwise.

5. No Distractions

Can you guess what the number one thing recruiters say they hate to see in video interviews? Yep, the clue is in the title: distractions. Be it loud pets, family or flatmates making noises in the background; or an open window letting in the sound of traffic, building work, or sirens; distractions stop the interviewer hearing what you’re saying, pulling their focus elsewhere.

Fortunately, this is something you can easily avoid by setting your phone to silent, warning your house mates…or making your call from a soundproof airing cupboard, if all else fails!

6. Dress for Success

Softer, solid colours work best on camera, so avoid anything too bright or patterned if you can. And of course, while it’s likely that the interviewer will only see your upper half, it’s still a good idea to wear something professional on your bottom half, just in case you need to stand up for any reason. Who could forget this American news reporter in his undies after all?

Keep these top tips in mind and you'll be perfectly prepared for acing your next video interview. Best of luck! X


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