4 Tips to Nail a Virtual Job Interview
by Ben Laker, Will Godley, Selin Kudret and Rita Trehan
If you’re job hunting right now, chances are you’re also interviewing remotely.
There are some serious upsides to this. You can avoid tardiness (no traffic snarls), reference notes without being too obvious and if you’re located in a rural area, you now have access to the same opportunities as city dwellers, saving you money.
There are also downsides. Combined with technical problems — like forgetting you’re unmuted or having a cat filter stuck on your face — virtual interviews can go horribly wrong.
Through our latest research on remote hiring, we wanted to know, given these pros and cons, how can job candidates really stand out during the virtual interview process?
Here are four practices you can use to turn your next virtual interview into a job offer:
1) Set up your space.
- Have a clean, uncluttered background: Our advice here is not for you to start rearranging your entire room. Just find a spot that is simple and free of distractions. You can even choose a simple virtual background instead of propping yourself in front of a messy bookshelf. Contrary to previous research, we found that unconscious biases were less likely to creep into the decision-making process when candidates had a clean backdrop. 97 percent of the recruiters we spoke to preferred virtual backgrounds of office settings over beaches, mountains or outer space.
2) Prepare for the unexpected.
- Keep notes handy, but don’t refer to them too often: During job interviews, it’s standard for recruiters to ask candidates for examples of their most impactful work. Don’t let this unnerve you in the moment. Create a printout or Word document of notes with crisp bullet points highlighting a few projects you want to share. Sort your projects under two or three headers: accomplishments, research and volunteer work.
We suggest no more than one page of notes. The goal is to refer to your notes minimally.
- Use hand gestures: In our study, 89 percent of successful candidates used wide hand gestures for big and exciting points, while moving their hands closer to their heart when sharing personal reflections. Your body language can impact what you’re saying and how you come across. Our research also found that you can connect to your interviewer just by keeping an open posture and remembering not to cross your arms. Look into your webcam, not at your reflection. We recommend framing yourself in a way where you’re not too far from the camera (we suggest no more than two feet). Make sure your head and top of your shoulders dominate the screen, and as you’ve heard before, look into the camera when you speak.
4) Don’t perform a monologue; spark conversations.
- Ask questions: There’s always an opportunity to ask questions about the office and the culture in an interview, but when you interview remotely, you’re going to be left with more questions than usual. Whatever you want to know, ask. Don’t worry about looking silly. The recruiter will appreciate your curiosity.
We suggest asking questions about the kind of technology you’ll have access to when working remotely, if you’d be working in a hybrid team or how success is measured at the organization. 85 percent of successful candidates asked these kinds of questions to demonstrate their values and priorities, while revealing vital bits of information about their personality. For example, you could ask, “Do you have a flexible work policy?” Then bookend your question with, “I’ve been volunteering as an English teacher for marginalized communities twice a week, and it would be great to be able to continue doing that.”
For better or worse, remote hiring is here to stay. While there are many unrivaled benefits to this, you need to do your bit to ace this relatively new process. Remember, trousers are optional, outstanding delivery is not.
Source: Harvard Business Review