Mastering virtual interviews

jodiecAdvice, Final Year, First Year, Graduates, Interviews, Postgraduate, Second Year

Woman in a pink dress typing on a laptop

More and more employers are offering video and virtual interviews these days. While this is great news if you always dread getting lost on the way to a face-to-face interview or panic about a bus not turning up when you need one, virtual interviews can present a different set of challenges. That’s why today we’re sharing our top tips for mastering these types of interviews – don’t worry, you’ve got this.

Test your tech beforehand

Virtual interviews are stressful enough, without adding technical problems to the mix. Avoid any potential glitches by testing your equipment before the interview date. This means making sure your internet connection is strong, ensuring your camera works and double-checking the quality of sound coming from your microphone and speakers. If you’re using your laptop, make sure it’s plugged in so you don’t lose battery power halfway through an answer!

Not only will all this ensure the interview runs smoothly on the day, it’ll also demonstrate to the interviewer that you’re tech savvy, which is an important skill in the workplace.

Take a practice run

Virtual interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially if you don’t know what to expect. However, they don’t have to be.

Use the time before the interview takes place to practise as much as you can. Why not call up a friend and ask them to run through some interview questions with you? We also offer mock interview appointments with a member of the Careers+Placements team – you can book those on Aston Futures.

Don’t forget, you can also use Launchpad – this is an online tool which allows you to take a practice video interview through it. Head to the interview tips section of our website for more information and to access Launchpad.

Dress appropriately

Just because you might be sitting near your bed for a virtual interview, you don’t need to look as if you’ve just rolled out of it. Ditch the vest top and joggers in favour of a smart shirt, blazer and trousers.

You should dress the same as you would in a face-to-face interview. Not only will it make you look more professional, it will also help you feel more prepared and confident.

Be aware of your surroundings

An employer won’t take you seriously if they can see a pile of dirty clothes behind your head or if your cat walks across the laptop halfway through the interview. Spend some time ensuring your background for the call is professional and appropriate.

Opt for a plain background with no clutter, inappropriate artwork or unmade beds behind you (tip – many virtual meeting hosts give you options to use a pre-designed, plain background or to blur yours out if you don’t feel comfortable with strangers taking a sneak peek into your personal life); open your curtains to let some light in or switch on a lamp so it doesn’t look like you’re sitting in a cave; and close the door so a stray family member can’t accidentally wander into view of the camera.

Also avoid balancing your laptop on your knees during the call, as it will shift around when your body does. It’s best to put your laptop on a flat surface such as a desk or kitchen table if you can.

Mute your microphone when you’re not talking

There’s nothing more annoying than being on a group call where someone’s crunching or breathing heavily down the microphone, or if there’s a barking dog or screaming child in the background. If you’re taking part in group tasks as part of an assessment centre, be respectful to everyone else and mute your microphone when you aren’t talking.

If you’re in a one-on-one meeting or interview, it’s not always possible to do that – so make sure you find a quiet spot in your home before making the call and ask anyone else who lives with you to not disturb you during that time.

And, speaking of noisy interruptions, make sure to put your phone on silent mode before the interview starts!

Be mindful of your body language

It’s always important to be conscious of what your body language is communicating to others, especially during virtual interviews.

Avoid hunching over the laptop and instead sit up straight, smile and keep the camera at eye-level to demonstrate your confidence. When listening to the interviewer, nod and smile to show you are engaged. While you’re talking, keep focused on the camera rather than staring at the image of yourself or looking around your room. Not only will you look distracted, but it can also affect sound quality if you’re not facing the screen.

As you won’t be able to shake the interviewer’s hand, greet them with a smile and wave at the start and end of the call.

Stay present

It can be hard to stay focused when interviews and assessment centres are being carried out virtually – you might find you feel fatigued after a while! However, it’s important to concentrate on what’s happening at all times. That means avoid having multiple windows open on your laptop or checking your phone during the call. You might miss key information or – worse – the employer will notice you’re distracted, which won’t go down well with them.

Another big no-no is trying to Google answers to questions that come up – trust us, the interviewer will be able to tell what you’re up to.

Send a follow-up email

The first thing to do when you finish the interview is breathe a sigh of relief. The next is to send a follow-up email to the interviewer.

We advise sending a follow-up email within 24 hours of the interview to thank the interviewer for their time and to let them know you’re available if they have any additional questions. Not only is this good practice, it will show the interviewer that you are seriously interested in the role.

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