With many industries in freefall, job hunting in 2020 is by no means easy, but if you are seizing the moment for a meaningful career change, realising your leadership potential or moving forward after redundancy, here’s how you can enhance your interview-at-home performance. Here are some tips for a virtual job interview.
Eliminate as much background noise as possible
While much of the conversation around mastering virtual meetings focus on flattering lighting, your most important consideration for an at-home interview is the sound quality. It is what you have to say that counts and conveying your ideas, talent and personality clearly and audibly to your interviewer is essential.
Pick a plain backdrop
While social media is increasingly obsessed with well-curated backdrops, you don’t want your interviewer to be distracted by a wall of pet photographs or eye-popping wallpaper. A plain-colour wall in a room where you would ordinarily receive guests is ideal. Showing a prospective employer around an area of your home that you would usually only reveal to guests who you know intimately—for example, your bedroom—isn’t.
Get comfortable, but sit upright
Dropping into a virtual cocktail party with your laptop resting on a coffee table is one thing, but sitting on your couch during a virtual job interview might mean you need to slouch to be in the frame or to be heard.
The aim is to maintain eye contact with your interviewer throughout and to avoid checking your angles during the call, which means it’s best to be stationed at a desk or kitchen table. Open your camera and experiment with its height a few hours or the day before you ae due to start the interview. Note: coffee-table books and cereal boxes make great improvised laptop stands.
Consider your lighting
Take a tall lamp and set it next to the computer on the side of your face you feel is best. The lamp should be in line with and slightly behind the computer so the light falls nicely on your face. The same goes for sources of strong natural light.
Do a practice call to test your sound, backdrop and connection
OK—you’ve decided on your backdrop and you’ have organised your lighting. Now schedule a virtual call with a friend or family member to check the sound quality and wifi strength, and ask them to send you a screenshot.
Mute all notifications
Unless you are potentially exchanging documents/files with your interviewer during the call, close all tabs where you may receive messages. If you need to keep messaging apps open, mute them. The same goes for your smartphone; put it on silent and stow it out of sight behind your computer screen for the duration of your interview to avoid distractions.
Keep track of the time
Because of the static setup, it’s likely that your virtual job interview will be shorter than a face-to-face job interview. Ask the contact who confirms your meeting to indicate the approximate length of the interview ahead of time and, with your phone out of sight, place a clock at eyeline level to help you keep track during the call.
Have a digital copy of your CV ready
Probably our most straightforward tip, but just in case your interviewer needs a quick refresher on your skills and experience, it helps to have an updated and clearly labelled copy of your CV saved to your desktop for easy access.
Use notes if you need them
One of the major perks of interviewing for jobs virtually is that you can control what your interviewer sees. If you are worried about forgetting to mention a point you feel may score you the role, attach a few easy-to-read sticky notes to the edge of your screen.
Be the groomed version of your everyday self
With your mind free from the stress of pulling together a top-to-toe interview-appropriate look, you only need to think about what will be visible on-screen. That is, the top half—the mismatching socks or shearling slippers can stay. Whether you feel most presentable in a crisp white shirt, ultra-confident in bold colour or favour a simple neat black T-shirt, be the tidiest version of your everyday self.
Take a deep breath
Allow yourself 15 minutes to slow your breathing and still your mind—both the night and the hour before your interview. This is also a last, quick opportunity to take a minute to ‘read’ your body; ensure you are not hungry and prepare a glass of water to keep near (but out of elbow range) from your computer. And most importantly: remember that your potential is truly limitless and, above all, you’ve got this. Good luck.