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The Dos and Don’ts of Virtual Interviewing

  • By Nicole Meyer
  • Published: 8/4/2020
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Most job interviews are going to occur online for the foreseeable future. Even after the pandemic ends, many companies will continue to work remotely and you should get used to interviewing in front of a computer screen. The following tips will help you on your next interview, whether it’s virtual or in-person.

Dos

Do be on time. If it’s a virtual interview, don’t wait until the interview day to figure out how to use the interview platform. Make sure you are familiar with the technology beforehand, so you are not delayed in joining the call. Have a test call with a friend or family member if possible. If a delay is unavoidable, let someone know immediately and do not forget to apologize when you arrive.

Do dress the part. Look like you belong there, even if you’re interviewing at home. If you are unsure about what to wear, ask about the dress code. It will show how much importance you place on the meeting.

Do your homework. Make sure you have read enough about the company and person interviewing you (who is interviewing you, what is their position and history with the company?). Read the newspaper or other relevant journals to be sure you know what is happening. Google the company on the day of your interview to look for relevant news. Preparation will set you apart from the competition. Make sure you know something about the interviewer (ask for a bio when scheduling your interview), the company, their business, and their competitors.

Do be prepared to give a verbal account of your background. Don’t hurry, and have a one-minute introduction (or less) that allows you to describe your background and experience, and in particular its relevance to this interview. This is your chance to shine and to highlight your accomplishments. Conclude with what you can bring to this role or company.

Do take notes. Take notes so you can remember what needs to be clarified or what needs to be answered. Let the other person know you are taking notes. It is especially important to clarify this in virtual interviews—you don’t want to look distracted.

Do ask interesting and relevant questions: Have three questions about the business, the interviewer, and the role at hand. Not generic questions, but strong and well-thought-out questions.

Do investigate/probe. Do not be afraid to ask lots of questions. Challenge, carefully, anything that the interviewer says which you do not agree with or do not understand. Do it tactfully.

Do listen. This is one of the most important things you can do. Ask for clarification if you do not understand something. If you do not listen, you will not be able to ask intelligent questions nor will the interviewer think you are interested. Not listening wastes your time and theirs. You have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionately.

Do admit that you do not know the answer. Tell the interviewer that you need time to think about your answer. Do not be afraid to turn this to your advantage. If you cannot think of an answer tell the interviewer that you will get back to them. This is a good technique to use if you truly cannot think of an answer because it gives you an opportunity to get back in touch with the interviewer.

Do be conscious of your body language. Gestures and movements are amplified on camera. Do be aware of how you nod your head, voice agreement, and be aware of your non-verbal signals. All these minimize your impact and is less than authoritative. Nodding may also give the impression that you agree with everything said.

Do be clear on what you want by the end of the interview. You may want to leave or you may want another interview. Ask what happens next and try to define the next steps—i.e., what happens from here?

Do send a thank you note/email. Do it within a day or two, at the latest, of your meeting. An email is fine; a hand-written note stands out from the crowd.

Don’ts

Do not ask 'pat' questions as if from a standard list. Be creative in terms of what you want to know about this company or opportunity. The more thoughtful the questions, the better the impression.

Do not ask closed-ended/self-fulfilling questions. Closed-ended questions are those to which the answers can only be "Yes," "No," or "Maybe". Examples: "Do you like your job?" “Can I make good money?"

Do not fill the vacuum. If the interviewer does not answer straight away, do not leap in with another question. Give them time to think. Allow yourself pauses, too. Do not be panicked into thinking that every second needs to be filled with words. Pauses make you look more rather than less in control.

Do not interrupt unnecessarily. If you have asked a question, listen to the answer. Do not cut across it to get to the next question. If someone is listing three or four points, let them get to the end of the list before butting in. However, interviews do need managing and sometimes it is necessary to interrupt to keep up the momentum.

Do not answer your phone. Turn it off, not to vibrate but off to silent. Minimize your chance for distracting background noises as well. Find a quiet place and tell the other members of your household you have an important interview and are not to be interrupted. Utilize the “mute” function when you are not speaking to prevent ambient noises from distracting your interviewer.

Do not jump to conclusions. Try not to make up your mind one way or the other before the interview is over.

Do not end the interview if you think there is something important that has not been brought up. Summarize what you have learned and get clarification where necessary.

Do not make excuses if you’re in-between jobs. Get to the point, explain your situation, and do it succinctly.

Do not bad-mouth your present employer or anyone else for that matter. That is just poor behaviour and it will hurt your chances for progressing in the process.

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