What To Do (and What Not to Do) During a Virtual Job Interview

No matter why you’re looking for a new job, job hunting during the coronavirus pandemic is unique. Instead of attending in-person networking events, you’re likely attending virtual job fairs and tapping your network online. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most companies have switched to virtual interviewing. And to ace your virtual interviews, you need to know what to do as well as what not to do. Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to succeeding in a virtual interview—including some great advice from human resource professionals. 

DON’T dress casually

We’ve all seen the commercials or posts on social media of people who are wearing Hawaiian shirts or pajamas during virtual meetings. Yes, your interview is done virtually so the interviewer might not be able to see everything you’re wearing. However, you should still dress the part—like you would if you were interviewing in person. And that means wearing pants or a skirt, along with an “interview” shirt or top. Dressing up will show the interviewer that you take the interview seriously. Also, even if the interviewer can’t see you from the waist down, dressing up will boost your confidence and help set your mindset on the task at hand—acing your interview.

DO Test the Technology

Test your tools 24 hours in advance to make sure your computer microphone is working and your internet connection isn’t spotty. Know the platform you’re going to be using in advance so you can at least test it out: you don’t want to be feeling your way through unfamiliar technology during the interview.

DO Have Notes Ready

One of the advantages of a virtual job interview is it allows you to keep helpful notes in front of you, and off-camera. You’ll be less likely to forget important talking points, and no one will be the wiser. Keep your resume in front of you as well, so you can easily remember important work experiences and dates.

DON’T Play With Your Phone

Remember that you’d never sneak a look at your phone if you were participating in an in-person interview. It’s a bad habit and not behavior you would exhibit in real life, so remember that a video interview is still a face-to-face interview. And be sure to show that you’re listening with your body language–nodding, lean forward, smile and ask questions.

DO schedule the interview for a time when it will be quiet in your home

If you have a choice, try to schedule virtual interviews when it will be as quiet as possible in your home. For example, if you have children, be mindful of when they might need your attention (such as during homework or snack time) and avoid those time slots. If you have a pet, try not to schedule your interview during their normal walk or feeding time. And whatever time your virtual interview occurs, make your home as quiet and free from distractions as possible. Turn off any nearby sounds (ex. television, speakers, etc.) and make sure your phone is silenced. Also be mindful of your background. Cluttered rooms make communicators seem disorganized. Distracting elements will pull attention away from you. Find an environment where the background is simple, reflecting your professionalism.

DO Focus on the Positives, Not the Negatives

No matter your situation, focus on the positives, not the negatives. For example, many people had to switch to remote work for the first time, but perhaps didn’t know how to use virtual collaboration tools. Highlight how you have worked to become a better remote employee. Did you learn how to use Zoom or Microsoft Teams more effectively? Did you master Slack or GoToMeeting? If you’ve been unemployed or under-employed, explain what you’ve been doing to improve your skills and stay connected to your field. Mention any professional development you have done in the past year such as webinars, certifications, virtual networking events or online tutorials.

Some Advice from the Experts

“I would highly recommend candidates google their own name to see what pops up from comments, reviews, and images. Additionally, they need to review their social media accounts. More and more hiring managers and team peer interviewers are searching to determine what kind of person would be joining their team.”

Example:

Google Reviews: if someone only posts negative google reviews this could indicate the person is negative and the team does not want to add a negative team member. Positive reviews could indicate a person who appreciates others.

Images: If they are posting pictures of being at celebrations and not following the current CDC safety guidelines the team may not want them on the team for safety reasons.

Rikki Wardyn
M.A., PHR, SHRM-CP
Vice President – Human Resources
Banyan Medical Systems

“My two cents would be for the candidate to speak up using a confident voice and be prepared to answer questions about things you disliked about a previous role in a positive way.”

Denitza Colores, SHRM-CP
Human Resources Generalist
Episcopal Community Services

  • Do: Be on time
  • Do your research on the company before you go to the interview.
  • Do ask questions (that show you’re in tune with the position/company)
  • Don’t bad-mouth former employers or managers
  • Do be yourself
  • Don’t try too hard/don’t be fake
  • One more….true story here…. DO use a vanilla or generic email address!

Kevin Knetsch, SHRM-SCP
Human Resource Director at Midwestern Mechanical, Inc.

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