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How to Survive a Job Interview Online: Practice and Preparation

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Even the most confident job seekers can still find themselves suffering from pre-interview jitters, and those nerves can derail us at a time when we need to keep our cool the most!

An added pressure when it comes to interviewing in the current job market is the widespread use of video interviewing.

While on the face of it, the online interview may seem to have its fair share of advantages over in-person interviewing (you eliminate the possibility of getting caught in a traffic jam on the way to the interview or tripping and falling as you enter the conference room where the interview is taking place), a video interview can present other types of challenges.

Anyone who works at the mercy of technology knows that it can be our best friend or worst enemy when it comes to a job search. Some video interviews are fraught with technological difficulties and glitches, both on the candidate’s end as well as the interviewer.

Additionally, many hiring managers can tell stories of candidates completing forgetting etiquette and decorum (no one needs to see the beer can pyramid in your living room while you are online. Unless perhaps you are interviewing with a brewery!)

To get you prepared for online interviews and to ensure you stand out as a promising candidate to potential employers and the hiring manager, follow these simple and practical tips each time you do a video interview for success.

Practice Makes Perfect


When it comes to a video interview, you do not want to “do it on the fly” or arrive at the meeting unprepared.

Setting up a “practice round” (or two) will ensure you can iron out any kinks before the actual interview. Your practice ahead of the interview should include:

  • Checking all of the hardware, software, and internet connections that will be used to determine you will have no connectivity or technological issues that will interfere with the online interview.
  • Setting up a mock interview with a friend or family member via an online service (such as Zoom)
  • Reviewing your visual cues such as eye contact, posture, and body language on a screen.

Do Your Research


Be prepared to impress the interviewer with your knowledge of their products and/or services.

Make sure you have spent time thoroughly researching the company, which will include a review of their website and relevant media articles, blog posts, and more.

If you really want to set yourself apart, spend some time researching their competitors as well. For example, if you were interviewing with the third-largest hotel chain in the country, you would be wise to familiarize yourself with the recent marketing campaigns of the chains in the top two spots.

You could then share your thoughts on how the company could compete with and outshine what its competitors were doing.

Dress the Part


How to Survive a Job Interview Online One mistake some job candidates make when it comes to interviewing online from their own homes is forgetting how they might have appeared in an in-person interview at an office.

Just because you may be sitting in your living room for the video call does not mean you should be in your Sunday afternoon sweats! You should also pay attention to your body language.

Present yourself in the online interview the same way you would if you were walking into the company’s conference room for the hiring process. Wear smart, tailored clothing to show you are taking the interview seriously.

Patterns can be distracting on screen, so sticking with simple colors and fabrics will keep the interviewer focused on you and your answers.

Choose Your Setting Wisely


Your appearance is not the only thing that matters when it comes to the view from the other side of your screen.

Be sure your background is clutter-free and organized as well. If possible, set yourself up in front of an empty wall or an area of your home that is neat and tidy.

Avoid setting up in an outdoor area: while your patio may be a lovely view for the interviewer, your answers could easily be interrupted by everything from a passing siren to a chirping bird.

Follow Up


A prompt thank you letter is always appreciated after an interview; follow up with a specific note about why you are excited about the opportunity, mentioning something you learned in an interview.

Bear in mind, too, that you may be among hundreds of candidates applying for the position. The interview process can be lengthy, depending on the particular role.

You may be asked for an in-person interview after the video interview, or you may even be asked to do additional online interviews with other members of the organization.

If you are not chosen for the role, remember that the interview experience is always useful and helps you hone your skills for the next one!

Online Interview: A Few Final Tips


How to Survive a Job Interview Online While interviews can be intimidating, if you follow the steps we have outlined above, you will position yourself to have a mostly smooth experience, but remember that no online interview is completely immune to the possibility of technological glitches!

Just go into the interview prepared for the possibility of a disrupted connection or some other hiccup. For example, you might “arrive” at the screen promptly, and your interviewer may be running 10 minutes behind as she is still chatting with another candidate.

Whatever the glitch or delay may be, focus on keeping your cool and showing the potential employer you can remain calm and collected in any situation.

It is a good idea to have some notes with you for reference, such as questions you would like to ask during the interview, but be sure you do not stare at your papers for long periods of time.

Stay focused on keeping good eye contact and showing you are engaged when the interviewer is speaking.

Finally, do not forget to smile!