Don’t underestimate the power of your first impression.
I guess you also noticed, the world has changed. Since March of this year, many have been the small subtle changes that have slowly made their way in our everyday life. One of them, is that many of us strongly increased the amount of online activity we have, and we basically passed to working remotely to the maximum degree that our activity can allow it.
In this article, you will read our best suggestions on how to best tackle online interviews. Most tips apply to phone interviews too, of course, but these days you are most likely to have your webcam on while you’re at it. As a team, we spend hundreds of hours each month interviewing people to find the very best candidates, and since the pandemic, we, of course, switched to 100% online video interviews. This is what you should know before you start yours.
First of all, and I know this can sound funny, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, wear your pyjamas underneath your ironed shirt or blouse. It might happen that you will accidentally need to get up from your chair to close a window or turn off your phone, and the interviewer might catch your Finding Nemo trousers in the camera. So just don’t, prepare properly. It will also help your confidence and body language if you are actually dressed like a real in-person interview.
Do not underestimate a video call interview. Prepare the same way you would for presential one, have your own CV printed and at hand, read it again before you start, and make sure you investigated a little bit about the company, its latest news on their site or networks, and maybe a bit about the person who will talk to you (simply look them up on LinkedIn).
Make sure you have pen and paper at hand, they could come in handy for taking notes of multiple questions or taking notes of what you would like to reply while the interviewer is still talking. It helps you organize your speech. Make sure you are in a quiet environment, avoid cafes and headphones are strongly appreciated. If you can do a small test call with a friend sometime before just to check that everything is in place and that the platform you will be using for the call works fine. Adjust the lights so that you don’t have the source of light coming from behind you, making you totally dark to the other person, these are all small details that you should adjust BEFORE you start the call. Take your time, those few minutes could turn out to be your next few years of a professional career.
Show some enthusiasm and energy when you first answer the call but remain professional and formal until you see how the other person is engaging with you. Many studies show that most of the impression you will make on other people (for years!) is developed in the first 20 seconds of contact. Oh, and yes, smile 🙂
To some, this might sound very obvious but trust us, we have seen EVERYTHING throughout the years, so it won’t hurt the mention. Avoid drinking, eating and especially smoking during the interview, be totally engaged towards the interviewer and make sure to make a lot of eye contact. You can achieve this special bonus by spending most of your time in the interview, looking directly inside your webcam’s camera. You will be very tempted to look at either your image on the screen or the person, but try as much as you can look straight into the webcam’s camera center. This will create the impression that you are looking at the other person’s eyes.
Frame your head in a way that it covers the full screen, don’t sit too much back so that your face is just a small portion of the monitor. Stay close, and keep your shoulders and head straight.
Try not to interrupt too much, be a good listener, again, write down the points of your answer on your paper and wait for your turn to start exposing your answers. We know you want to make a good impression but try to be concise and clear, if you have time, you can even rehearse and role-play with a friend.
Often you will be asked if you have questions. Use this valid opportunity to show that you prepared and remember that a job interview is as an much good opportunity for you also to see if this is the best for you to work at, so don’t be shy, ask about your future coworkers and the tasks and expectations that you will need to execute.
If job interviews make you nervous, remember to focus on your breathing and to have long inhale and exhale breaths, especially when it’s not your time to speak. You don’t need to be loud or visible, but breathing deeply will almost instantaneously make you feel calmer. You can also do so before you start.
Simply be yourself and do your best, you will do more than fine. And because you read until here, we are going to give you an ultimate pro-tip that makes a huge difference: Lift your laptop or whatever you’re using for the camera. It makes a HUGE difference when the other person is not looking directly into your nose from bottom to up but actually having the feeling that you’re sitting in front of her/him. A pile of books, old shoe box, etc. under the laptop will do the trick.
Remember to thank the other person for their time and for the opportunity. You can also ask about what and when are going to be the next steps of the interview process in the next few days.
Best of luck from us to you!