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Nailing an online interview

07/04/2021

With technology and platforms constantly shifting in the work-place, here are 6 top tips to nail your next online interview and seal the deal.

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Just when we thought interviews couldn’t become any more nerve-wracking, they go and add technology into the mix. With so many different video conferencing platforms, it's easy to get caught out.

 

Here are our 6 tips to nailing online job interviews, and sealing the deal.

1. Trial run your technology

Whether Zoom, Skype, Webex or Teams is the online interviewing platform of choice, we recommend setting up a practice run with a friend or family member to get familiar with the log in process and screen set up.

Test the microphone, speakers, and that your display name shows up appropriately. And while you’re there, check that your internet works well too. There's nothing like that awkward moment when your connection freezes mid-interview question.

No matter how well those trials go, be sure to have a backup plan in place as well. This could simply mean you have the mobile number and email address of the interviewer on hand in case there are any technical difficulties during the interview.

2. Check your surroundings

First and foremost, online interviews live and die on how well prepared you are. Now that we know your interviewer will be able to see and hear you easily, it’s time to take stock of your surroundings.

In the lead up to the interview, sit down and turn your camera on. Preferably at the same time of day that the interview will take place. How is the lighting? What can be seen?

Take a look around the space. A personal touch here and there doesn’t hurt, just be sure to clear away clutter and make the space clean and tidy. Check the angle of your camera to ensure your face is framed clearly in the centre of the screen and change the position or height of your laptop to get the angle right so you're not looking down at the camera.

3. Smile and make eye contact

It’s important the conversation feels inclusive. Eye contact can be particularly tricky when there are multiple people on the screen – and when you can see yourself!

Admit it, it’s hard not to fix your hair and check your own facial expressions. We all do the same. But don’t let this get in the way of you making a connection with the interviewer in the same way you would if you were in the room with them.

If there are multiple people on the interview panel, remember to share your eye contact evenly with each person regardless of who asks each question. If a person is involved, then they are interested in you and they have an influence over the hiring decision.

4. Speak clearly and avoid noisy distractions

The microphones in laptops and headphones can be very sensitive to noise and it is critical to your success that the interviewer can hear what you have to say.

When choosing a place to set up for the interview, be wary of noise or distractions that might interrupt you. Like housemates in the kitchen, a busy road outside or an overly-affectionate cat. Find a quiet space that enables you to focus, and enables your audience to listen easily to every word.

Also be mindful that technology can create a communication barrier between you and the interviewer. So during the interview, be extra careful to let others finish what they are saying before you start talking. Especially when they are asking a question.

When it is your turn to speak, do so even more clearly than you would in an in-person interview and leave moments for a laugh where appropriate.

5. What you wear still matters

There are plenty of memes out there about not wearing pants on Zoom. And we have all heard horror stories featuring pajamas.

Whilst there may be some room for a more casual daily style in your current role (we recommend you take the lead from your boss on this), in an online interview the golden rule of first impressions still applies.

Dress for the interview in the exact same way you would if you were attending in person. Represent yourself as someone who is clean, tidy and a good fit for the role, and when you are unsure what to wear, remember that it’s better to be slightly over-dressed than under-dressed.    

6. Show your personality

Our final, and most powerful tip to nailing online job interviews is to let your warmth and humour shine through the screen. 

After a long day (or perhaps week) of interviews, the interviewer will be fatigued. They will likely have brain fog. Whatever you can do to make them feel re-energised will serve you well through the process. 

Relax, laugh and use hand gestures and body language to tell a story just like you would in person (just make sure you give yourself the space to do this when you have your practice run so you don’t knock anything over!)

Emily Bowen and Shelley Johnson are HR professionals and host the my millennial career podcast. For more on building your personal brand, check out their episodes ‘how to crush your next job interview’ and ‘10 biggest interview mistakes’.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication.

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