Going in for an interview is a nerve-wracking experience for many people. The idea of having to pitch yourself to the person who may ultimately be responsible for your future employment is not what most would consider enjoyable.
Now, thanks in large part to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most instances of face-to-face communication have been (at least temporarily) replaced with some form of remote communication. Team communications have turned into Slack meetings, seminars and lectures are streamed online, and interviews are being conducted on video platforms like Zoom.
With this new form of interview becoming less of a novel concept and more of a new reality for most, job seekers need to learn how to adjust and succeed under these new conditions.
Some Things Never Change
While there’re plenty of new things about doing an interview in your living room, a lot about the online job interview process is the knowledge transferred from the in-person interview practice.C
Ready, Steady, Speak!
The most basic element of interview preparation is being physically prepared. Just as a runner would warm up the muscles that he’s about to use before starting, the interviewees should take the time to warm themselves up too.
Doing simple vocal exercises will help you sound confident and prepared during the interview. There are multiple variations available online, for example repeating tongue twisters like “Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry” or running through scales of sounds that might be challenging to enunciate clearly. Pronunciation and vocal power come from none other than your lungs and throat. Taking a series of deep breaths and stretching out your facial muscles will help them stay loose and activated when you need them during the interview. Also, don’t forget to drink enough water to stay hydrated but no so much that you feel the need to use the facilities during the interview.
Although less directly related to vocal preparation, stretching out the entire body or doing some light physical movements like pushups can also pay positive dividends during a stressful session like an interview. Endorphins released during physical activity will do wonders for your energy levels and may help combat feelings of nervousness or anxiety.
What Are You Talking About? This Is What You’re Talking About
Prior to the interview, take the time to learn as much as you can about the company and position that you’re interviewing for.
Preparedness says volumes to a company about your integrity as a potential employee and your professionalism. Plus, it’s nice to know that you cared enough to come into the interview ready to have a meaningful conversation about a future position rather than decide to wing it and hope for the best.
Remember to review your resume and cover letter as well. Whatever you’ve submitted in your application is what the company will be basing their decision on, and there’s a good chance that you’ll have field interview questions that relate directly to those written documents.
A quick online search will provide you with tons of potential interview questions that you can use for your practice. Every company and interviewer is unique, but by and large, preparing a number of questions to ask the interviewer is a best practice that’s considered a great way to show initiative and interest in the company. Most interviewers will give an opportunity to ask at least one question during the interview; while opting to pass on this opportunity does not take away from your candidacy, many interviewers would consider a carefully prepared question a positive sign.
The Times Are Changing
While some elements remain unchanged from in-person to Zoom interview, there are others that, well, simply were not an issue until now.
It’s All About Location
An onsite interview will likely be held in a place that’s relatively quiet, maybe in a conference room at the branch of the company that you’ll eventually be working. In a Zoom interview, this is one consideration that you’ll need to keep in mind and take responsibility for on your own.
Is your interview being held early in the morning when it’s relatively quiet or during the afternoon when neighbors’ kids are likely to be outside making a ruckus? Knowing whether it’s better to keep the window open or closed is something to be proactive about and plan ahead of time, as is thinking about whether keeping the blinds closed as it might be a good idea if you’re facing the sun during sunrise or sunset.
How your location looks is also important to keep in mind. Having a plain background is probably most ideal for interviews or professional Zoom calls in general, but using a digital background is also an option that might appear even more professional. Ensuring that you have good lighting will also help the interviewer have a positive impression of you, even before you’ve said a single word.
A plan is only good until it falls apart, and anyone who’s used technology for communication will attest to the fact that falling apart is something that tends to happen more often than not. Fair or not, the onus still rests on you to do your due diligence and ensure that you’ve done everything humanly possible to ensure that your Zoom interview goes off without a hitch.
Double-check to see that your software is updated and functional, and if you’re someone who does not regularly shut down their computer or laptop, it’s a good idea to at least restart it once the night before your interview. You want to avoid having to send a hasty email apologizing for being late because your laptop has had to install updates.
Best Practices for Interview Day
After you’ve gotten warmed up and set up your system, there are a few last things you can do to make sure that things go smoothly during your interview.
Time for a Tech Check
Check to see that your Internet connection is strong. This is particularly important if you’ve experienced increased online activity due to more people staying at home and online all hours of the day.
Under the ‘Preferences’ tab in the Zoom software, there’s an option to test both your audio and video devices. It’s a great idea to make sure that everything is running smoothly before the interviewer logs in. If you have one, it’ll also be smart to have a spare headset or microphone at the ready in case you’re forced to recover from equipment failure during the interview.
Check Out the Latest Company News
As a last-minute refresher to your background research on the company, it’s a good habit to quickly search online to check if there are any recent developments that you should know about.
It might save you from asking an awkward question if the company is facing difficulties, and on the flip side, learning about some recent successes is a great way to break the ice once the interview begins.
Tell Everyone That You Need Quiet
Last but certainly not least, if you’re interviewing at home and you live with other people like family or housemates, do them and yourself a big favor and remember to tell them that you’re in an interview. Assuming never does anyone any good, and the last thing you need is someone barging into the room when you’re trying to deliver an answer.
While there are stylistic differences between in-person and Zoom interviews, it’s still entirely possible to be successful, with a bit of preparation and adjustment, and remembering that it’s still what you say during the interview that will get you that position.
With the extra work needed to set up for the interview taken care of, all that’s left is to stand – or sit up in your chair – and deliver.
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