The global pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our life. If you’re on the job search, you’ll feel the effects more than most. Some industries are on a hiring freeze and choosing to downsize their staff, while others are trying to reduce their overhead expenses. All is not lost. A natural consequence of the pandemic has been the shift to virtual interviews. While they take a while to get used to, they come with their advantages.
At Achēv, we offer free Employment Ontario services that help job seekers in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond achieve their employment and career goals. We’re sharing our ten tips on how you can ace your next virtual interview and land the job you want.
1. Practice FAQs
Whatever industry you’re focusing your job search on, you can guarantee there will be a few common questions. Almost everyone gets asked about their interests and career plans. These ‘soft’ questions help you relax and give your interviewer an insight into who you are as an individual. You’ll also likely be asked about your experience in previous jobs, so it’s good to have a few prepared answers ready to go.
Make out a list of possible responses, including your achievements and times you dealt with tricky situations. Employment Centres will usually have a list of FAQs for you to practice before any interview.
2. Do a Test Run
It takes a while to get used to seeing your face staring back at you on your screen. Schedule a few practice sessions to get used to talking to the camera and seeing your reflection. It’s easy to become distracted by how you look on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Call a few friends and get used to having a conversation over a video platform. Doing a test run will also help you become more familiar with video conferencing – including ‘unmuting’ yourself at crucial moments.
3. Check Your Background
Instead of sitting face-to-face with your interviewer, you’ll be talking to each other from your respective homes or offices. While you can sit in a comfortable chair and enjoy the perks of being interviewed from home, you need to consider your background. It’s a good idea to choose somewhere with a clean background. You’ll need to remove anything that might be offensive and avoid having any clutter behind in your background shot.
4. Dress for The Job
As tempting as it is to wear your pajamas or loungewear, you still need to dress professionally for your virtual interview. The emphasis will be on the top half of your outfit, including your hair and shirt. Choose a business casual button-up and make sure you’re freshly shaved. Some interviews will require a more business formal look, including a blazer. A good rule of thumb is to wear something similar to what you’d be expected to wear in the job you’re applying for. If you have long hair, tie it up into a bun to avoid being distracted by it during your interview. You want to show your potential employer that you can be professional in any environment.
5. Turn the Table and Ask Questions
With an in-person interview, you can read someone’s body language more closely and have a more one-on-one experience with them. While the conversation might not flow as naturally during a virtual interview, you want to make sure it’s still a two-way conversation. Most companies will finish their interviews by asking if you have any questions for them. Do your research and write down two to three questions that you want to ask, making them as specific to the company as possible.
6. Remove Any Distractions
When you have a face-to-face interview, there usually aren’t any distractions. With a virtual interview, you’ll be surrounded by distractions in your home. It’s a good idea to turn your phone on silent and keep it out of your direct line of sight during your interview. If you have a landline phone, disengage it until after you’re finished. Ask your family or roommates to go for a walk or grab a coffee to limit background noise.
7. Don’t Forget Eye Contact
During a virtual interview, you’ll still be judged on the same factors as an in-person interview. One factor people forget about is body language. Trying to keep eye contact with your interviewer over a laptop screen may be difficult, but it’s worth focusing on. You want to show that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying by keeping your eyes focused on the screen. It’s a good idea to sit in the centre of your screen, so you’re naturally looking into the camera.
8. Join the Call Early
You wouldn’t show up to an in-person meeting at the last minute, and the same is true with your virtual job search. You never know when the interviewer might start the call on their end, and they’ll be watching for when you appear in the waiting room. Opening the call a few minutes early can help you relax and gather your thoughts ahead of your interview.
9. Don’t Talk Over Each Other
One consequence of virtual interviews is that the lack of nonverbal communication can make it difficult to know when someone has finished speaking. Let the conversation flow naturally between you and the interviewer, but you want to avoid speaking over each other. Let your interviewer finish speaking before you start. If there’s a third person on the call, they may find your conversation more difficult to follow if you’re interrupting each other.
10. Double-Check Your Details
We’ve all been guilty of having an alias username that we use online. It may be one you’ve used since high school that incorporates your nickname or a funny phrase. You want to keep your interactions with your interviewer as professional as possible. It’s worth opening a second email address that uses your name, with as few symbols and numbers as possible. This email is what you should use for your interview-related emails. You also want to double-check the display name for your profile and make sure it’s your name. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Achēv’s employment centres in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and North York offer free Employment services for people of all backgrounds in Greater Toronto Area. If you need help with achieving your employment goals, contact us today!