Tips for Virtual Job Interviews: How to Nail Your Next Interview

Job interviews are stressful. They always have been, and probably always will be. But when they're done through a virtual medium such as Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts, they can be even more nerve-wracking. You can't just shake the interviewer's hand and hope to make a good impression. Not only might you worry about your appearance, voice, and ability to communicate effectively (just like you would in person), you also have to worry about technology failures, awkward pauses, and your background.

Don't let that scare you. Virtual interviews are a fact of life due to the pandemic, and they are a necessity for intercontinental or global job searches. That doesn't mean you can't succeed at them; it just means you need to be prepared for the challenges ahead.

Here are five tips for virtual job interviews that will help your next interview go as smoothly as possible:

Tip #01: Test Your Technology Ahead of Time

It's always a good idea to test your technology before the interview. Make sure you have a strong, fast Internet connection and that everything works correctly on whichever platform you'll be using. Make sure your microphone, camera, audio settings, video quality, and so forth are working properly. Invite a friend to help you test everything out in a practice session so you can make sure you're comfortable with the technology.

Tip #02: Dress Yourself and Your Background for Success

Just because you're not meeting in person doesn't mean you can dress any way you want. In fact, it's even more important to dress professionally for a virtual job interview. You don't want the interviewer to be distracted by your clothing choices.

Make sure there isn't anything inappropriate or distracting in view of your webcam before you start the interview. It's OK for it to look like you're sitting at a desk, but try to clean off any papers that might have sensitive information on them and make sure there aren't any pets or children running around in the background.

Also, make sure there won't be any interruptions during the interview. Turn your phone off, lock your office door if you're in a shared space, and, if interviewing from home, tell everyone else in the house that you are not to be disturbed.

Tip #03: Prepare for Pauses and Interruptions

There is likely to be some lag time with a virtual interview, especially if you're in the US interviewing with a company located in Africa. Let the interviewer know if there's a sound delay or interruption so they understand what's going on.

Practice making "eye contact" with the webcam during these pauses so that you appear attentive and engaged. This is a good practice to get into even if there is no delay.

Tip #04: Relax and be Yourself

Virtual job interviews can feel like a high-pressure situation, but remember that the interviewer is probably just as nervous as you are. Try to relax and be yourself. The more comfortable you are, the better your interview will go. And if all else fails, remember that you're talking to a person just like you.

Tip #05: Follow Up

Follow up with the interviewer after your virtual job interview by sending a thank you note or email that reiterates why you want the job and why you're the best person for it. The nice thing about virtual job interviews is that you can usually follow up immediately after the interview concludes. You don't have to wait for a few days before sending a thank-you email, and if you choose to send it within an hour of the interview's end, it will be likely one of the first things your interviewer sees when she opens her email.

In closing, remember that virtual interviews are different from in-person interviews but not necessarily worse. In many ways, they come with advantages and disadvantages for both parties. Just make sure you're prepared and do everything you can to make a great and professional first impression.

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