Five Steps To Acing the Web-Enabled Interview
SMITH BRAIN TRUST – Even as companies have adopted social distancing measures and work-from-home policies to deter the continuing spread of the coronavirus, many are continuing to hire. They’ve simply pivoted away from in-person interviews in favor of virtual ones, enabled by videoconferencing tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting and Cisco’s Webex.
For job seekers, that means preparing for the interview in a slightly different way, says Maryland Smith’s Rachel Loock.
“You want to prepare for that interview much as you would for an in-person interview,” says Loock, a career and leadership coach at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. “Research the company, as well as the interviewer’s background and be ready to describe how your education and experience meet the requirements of the job.”
But be ready for the differences that come when technology is between you and the hiring team.
Here’s Loock’s guide for acing your virtual interview:
Control what you can
In terms of pre-interview preparation, getting acquainted with programs like Zoom, Skype or Webex is a must, Loock says. Enlist a friend or family member to help in a test run. Doing so will help alleviate potential glitches that could happen in real-time.
Additionally, online interviews require you to be cognizant of your surroundings, says Loock. Given that many people are at home with their families, roommates or pets, Loock advises job candidates to position themselves somewhere “that is free of background noise and other distractions.” Look for a blank wall to sit in front of, she says, but if you can’t, make sure that whatever is behind you isn’t distracting.
Dress to impress
In-person or via-computer, dress for the job you want, Loock says. Err on the side of overdressing, she adds. Don’t skip the shoes and dress slacks just because you don’t expect anyone to see them from your webcam. Dress like the interviewers are in the room.
“It shows that you are taking this just as seriously despite sitting at a table at home rather than at a desk across from an interviewer,” she says. “Plus, if you need to stand up to move to another room or adjust the lighting nearby, you won’t have to worry that you have cargo shorts on instead of slacks.”
Create some space
Ideally, interviewees should strive to recreate the same distance from their camera that they would have sitting behind a desk at an interview, Loock says. As a rule of thumb, the interviewers should be able to see your physical gestures and facial expressions, should not be so close that they can see up your nose.
“Posture and body language are still important, even in online interviews,” she says. “Sitting up straight, showing interest and smiling at appropriate points to convey enthusiasm can only help you.”
For online interviews with multiple recruiters in the call, it can be a challenge for candidates to properly address everyone, says Loock. She recommends backtracking on a question and verifying that the person feels you answered the question sufficiently. Ask the group if they would like additional examples, anecdotes, or if anyone would like you to elaborate.
“We call those check-in questions and that can go a long way in making sure that you’re tending to everybody,” Loock says.
Close the deal
As the interview wraps up, take advantage of any opportunity to ask your own questions. Given the current state of affairs, inquiring about how virtual work is conducted might be appropriate, depending on the potential start date, she says. And, asking about the next steps is always recommended.
Also, be sure to send a thank-you email to everyone participating in the call, to express your gratitude and to reiterate your interest in the position, says Loock. “It’s always a nice close and is similar to how you would finish up an in-person interview.”
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