How to Take Charge of Virtual Interviews

Over the past few years, virtual interviews have become increasingly popular and relied upon by employers — even more so today considering the constraints of COVID-19. While traditional interviewing tips and techniques remain essential, what additional skills can be used to adapt to this new practice? 

In order to ensure a smooth interview, Martin J. Whitman School of Management’s Career Center staff provides the following advice about several technological aspects of virtual interviewing:

  1. Know the platform: All platforms operate differently regarding their key functions (microphone, video, etc.), so it is important to do some research or watch a YouTube tutorial before the interview to familiarize yourself. Common platforms include Zoom, WebEx, Skype and Microsoft Teams, as well as one-way interviews where you are asked to record yourself. No matter the platform, it is always best to use a computer rather than a smartphone.
  2. Check your equipment: Upon logging on to your interview, you will often be prompted to check the video and sound on your computer. To ensure that your device is working properly, set up a video call with a friend ahead of time. This will also allow you to evaluate your background and lighting. Make sure your internet connection is good and stable. You may have to turn off the Wi-Fi on other devices using the same network while doing your interview.
  3. Location: This can make or break the experience. During your interview, make sure you are in that the location that is quiet and distraction-free. You may want to inform others who share your space in advance that you will need a quiet environment. Sit at a desk or table, as you still want to create a formal setting. Again, check your background, close doors, adjust lights and move objects out of frame. If you’re working with a small space, you can hang up a neutral sheet or shower curtain behind you.

For one-way recorded interviews, ask how many chances you will have to record your answers and what your time limit for each question will be. Practice ahead of time on a platform such as Big Interview, which is free through the Whitman School. This can help to ensure you use your time wisely in responding to prompts, which is crucial as it can be difficult to relax or show personality when you aren’t interacting with someone. 

Like in-person interviewing, preparation and presentation are the keys to success. Make sure that you are looking at the person (that means looking at the camera, not just the screen) when the interviewer is speaking and show your personality through body language and smiling.

One perk of virtual interviewing is that you can have notes in front of you. Stick Post-it notes on the side of your screen, and write down key skills and events that you want to convey. Also, have a highlighted copy of your resume, as well as questions for the interviewer on hand.

For more resources to help during your internship or job search, visit the Whitman Career Center or reach out to a career advisor.

Julia Fiedler
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