IIf job interviews are uncomfortable and stressful at best, this is magnified by the prospect of having to do it from a corner of your home on the screen, while you wait for your kids or pets to not show up. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made online job interviews an increasingly common experience. Here are some insider tips on how to look like a pro, even if you’re wearing pajamas from the waist down.
Know where you need to be and when
Is the interview taking place on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, or some other platform? Are you sure of the time (and time zone)? “Triple check the details – it’s hard to recover from arriving a day early or late,” says Ruth Cornish, who runs the consultancy. Amelore and is a co-founder of HR Independents, the UK body for freelance HR professionals. Get there early, but not too early; two or three minutes is fine. You know of at least one person who signed up too early for an online interview and ended up bumping into another. However, it depends on the platform; and some recruiters will have a “waiting room” and ask you to be there 10 minutes early; again, check the details.
Practice using technology
Download the software in advance and familiarize yourself with the online meeting place as well as your device; For added security, consider downloading it to a second device, like your phone, and practice using it there too, in case your computer crashes at a crucial time. “The main thing I see is that people are uncomfortable with technology,” says Cornish. “Your username [on the account] it doesn’t appear correctly, it’s your kid’s name or ‘iPad’ or something like that, which baffles everyone. Either the microphone or camera isn’t working. “If you plan to show slides or share your screen, make sure you know how to do it (and that there is nothing embarrassing on your desktop screen).
Look how you cross
Eye contact, especially when there’s not much else to go on, is especially important, says John Lees, running coach and author of Knockout interview. “The mistake people make is talking with their face on the screen and what you have to do is talk to the camera,” he says. “It takes a little practice. So it’s a good idea to practice with a friend and, if you can, record the call and watch it later. “Do you need to move less or look at the camera more?” Eye contact really matters across the screen and creates an impression of direct communication”.
Prepare your interview area
If you don’t have a spare room or office, find a quiet corner in your home and consider designing it for your interview. “You want a clear, uncluttered background that says something about you,” says Cornish. Push trash and clutter out of sight, maybe put a picture on the wall behind or a neat bookshelf. “I’ve seen it all: piles of clothes in the back, boxes, junk and trash. And your eye is simply drawn to it. You want their eyes to be on you, so nothing to distract anyone. “She is not a fan of digital backgrounds, which can distort her outline and make her wonder what people are hiding. While we are still encouraged to work from home , you’re also showing your interviewer that your home workspace is adequate (even if you like to work from the couch surrounded by cookie crumbs). “If it’s chaotic or noisy, or there are interruptions, then you’re lowering your chances. because you’re really saying, ‘I’m not in control of this environment and it’s not a suitable place to work,’ “says Lees.
“A couple of well-placed lights mean your face is lit from both sides, rather than from above, which makes people look strange,” says Lees. “Natural light is good, but if it’s only from one side, put another light on the other side. The more you create the feeling of a well-lit professional environment, the better because it shows that you take it seriously and shows how you are going to interact with other people in the organization and with customers. “
Don’t be fooled by dressing too casually, says Cornish. “We are seeing a lot of hoodies. You still have to make an effort, not necessarily a jacket, but a fancy blouse or shirt, or whatever is appropriate for your industry. ”For men, Lees says, a tie looks strange at home, but“ smart casual ”is appropriate. Bold colors work well on screen, says Cornish. But there are no busy prints or conflicting colors, Lees says. “And nothing more interesting than what you say,” he adds. What works for you? Putting on the right shoes and Elegant pants, even if none are visible, makes you feel more alert and professional, or do you feel more comfortable and liberated with jogging pants?
Try to forget that you’re home
This is still a formal situation. If you wouldn’t do it during an in-person office interview, don’t do it on screen. Turn off the phone and don’t be tempted to leave snacks within reach. “I’ve seen people file their nails or say ‘Ignore me, I’m just wrapping a gift.’ That’s a bit extreme, he admits, but “people are a bit more casual than usual.” This is where recording yourself can come in handy: are you fidgeting with something on your desk without realizing it or is your body language too casual (hunched over, for example)? Don’t have anyone else in the room. “You wouldn’t take anyone else to an interview,” he says. Even if they are quiet and not visible to the interviewer, “People can’t help but look at the other person and the interviewer will notice. You have to connect with that interviewer and work harder when you’re not in the same room, so anything that distracts you will be negative. “
But don’t stress too much about it
Try scheduling an interview for when your toddler can be out of the house, or tell your teens not to use the Wi-Fi while playing games or streaming TV (and put a sign on the closed door so they know they shouldn’t come in). But interviewers are pretty lenient about life interruptions right now, Cornish says, and as long as it’s not too extreme, it can create a shortcut to a relationship. “If your dog starts barking, which mine does all the time, that’s fine; it can be a bit of fun. We all know that people work from home and try their best. The interviewer is on your side. “If your technology crashes or Wi-Fi goes down,” don’t let it become the focus, “says Cornish.” Face it calmly and confidently and don’t show your frustration. “Have a backup plan , like using your second device, or pre-requesting a phone number to continue through an old phone call in case the video connection fails (even if you try one more time to connect). “Any unexpected problem gives you a additional opportunity to demonstrate your resilience, quick thinking and professionalism. “
Build a relationship
Although it is complicated on screen, there are ways. Small talk is appropriate, Lees says, but what really works is: “Being easy to talk to means listening to the questions very carefully and not giving too long and rambling answers. Stay focused. “As uncomfortable as you may feel, your interviewer may have been doing online interviews all week, so think about them.” You have to think about not overwhelming people with very long answers, to keep them engaged and entertaining “.
Paste nearby directions
One of the benefits of an online interview is that, unbeknownst to your interviewer, you have painted a huge sign on the opposite wall that reads “YOU CAN DO THIS!” Or you pasted a note on the side of your screen. A smiling face will remind you to smile more, says Cornish, as will a note saying “Slow and clear” to remind you to slow down. “If there is something you would like to mention in particular, write it down there.” It’s okay to jot down a few notes, Lees says, but don’t write reams off-screen just because you can. “Just like in the bedroom, what you’re trying to do is keep eye contact and build a relationship.”
All other rules still apply
After all, this is still a job interview. “Don’t forget about the things you would normally do,” says Cornish. “Research your interviewer and the company, and how to pronounce names, places, and anything else. Good questions will show, obvious ones won’t. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification: asking questions is a sign of confidence; saying it’s not. “Post-follow-up can work, she says,” Depending on how you do it. What’s pretty cool is connecting with them on LinkedIn afterward and saying, ‘I really enjoyed talking today.’ It’s good after any interview. respond to what was discussed. Either you prepare something and send it later, and you say ‘I have prepared these notes to share with you’, or if you mentioned an article, or something like that, sending it can be helpful. But if nothing comes up, don’t you do “. The trick to any job interview, Cornish says, is to look enthusiastic, but not overzealous, which can come off as desperate. “You almost have to be thinking, ‘I have three offers, you’re lucky to get me.’
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism