Online job interview tips to stand out from the crowd
Updated: Mar 29, 2021
These small changes to how you approach the online interview process can make all the difference in landing that dream job
Even though many in the world are getting hoping to return back to a world where COVID19 isn't putting a stop to life as we used to know it, the reality is that the world of work has changed beyond recognition. For many of us, 2021 and beyond may lead to a mixture of in-office and virtual working, which will no-doubt have its ups and downs. That likely means that for those of us gearing up for an important interview, whether that's for a new job or even moving within your current organisation, it would seem that virtual interviews will be a more common part of our lives than we imagined in 2019!
Depending on your own preferences, you may view this as being dreadful or being fully on-board. There are certain things that I personally miss being on Zoom/Teams calls, such as being able to make a first impression with your clothes or handshake or personality - but a couple of small adjustments and you might be able to recreate a lot of those good vibes over a laptop screen 🙌
A lot of articles and videos online focus on the aesthetics of the online process, e.g. lighting, camera resolution etc, but I would like to focus on some ideas which are less commonly shared, but can make the killer difference for you in unlocking that next step in your professional journey. So, here goes...
1) Posture and how you sit
Sit on the edge of your seat with your feet firmly planted and make sure that you are slightly leaning forward.
Why? Well try recording yourself practising mock answers sitting back on a chair as opposed to doing the above - the body naturally will create more energy and zing to your overall virtual presence and the slight leaning forward will play out as a subliminal message to your interviewer that you are interested and engaged.
2) Document on screen or not?
If you’ve prepared for your interview and have a summary sheet of key words / experiences to remind yourself to bring them up in the interview, then by all means do so.
Since on Zoom calls you are looking at the interviewers in the middle of the screen anyway, having your summary sheet where the interviewers will be on screen is a good way to help you on your journey. But don’t make the mistake of writing down full sentence answers which you read out live on screen - it’s very obvious when your eyes move to read text on screen.
As with any real face to face interview, you want to be making eye contact which in online terms means looking into the camera - so do flit your eyes between the camera ("eye contact") and looking at the interviewer on your own screen (which is pretty common in most online conversations), where your notes will be on screen.
3) Making that nervous energy work for you
An effective tool to calm those pre-interview nerves is to divulge of the nervous energy through some sort of exercise / meditation / breathing techniques.
Exercise works best for me and you get the added benefit of releasing endorphins in your body that brings about the natural high you might find useful in an interview situation. But when it’s just not possible to get some exercise in, maybe it’s time to trick the mind in believing you are winning, bringing about your own natural confidence flowing!
A quick tip that has worked for many is to stand legs slightly wider than hip width apart, raise your hands up and stretch them out above your head. Now hold it for 2 mins. At the end of it the body would have tricked your mind into thinking positively and bringing your natural confidence out of you. Don't believe me, try it for yourself now and let me know whether it worked for you or not - and trust me you will most likely start off looking or feeling pretty goofy!
Practice - either practice a mock interview with someone you trust or practice answering questions in the exact settings of the interview (same room, clothes, lighting etc.) and record yourself.
Play it back - even though you might cringe at first, it’s amazing how you quickly can judge for yourself where and how you may wish to improve upon / tweak.
The trick to sounding natural in your responses in the real interview is to be able to pick on the right experiences at the right time - and to do so, it helps to hear yourself say it back on a recording as well as recording a few versions of the answers. As with anything, what looks and sounds easy and breezy, usually has had a lot of hard work gone on in the background to get you there.
5) Speakers or Headphones or Earbuds?
Ok so I promised I wouldn't touch on the aesthetics of the online interview process. But, if you are regular user of online meeting platforms, by now you know that there are essentially three camps that most of us fall into 1) Headphones or 2) Earbuds or 3) Speakers.
Headphones - those big clunky headphones with a big jutting out microphone piece, usually with a thick wire running into your laptop. Sure, they are probably technically the best equipment to use, but for me at least it is a distraction to look at and I feel that it detracts from an overly professional image you may be trying to convey. Big caveat - if you are applying for a position where this is the norm, then absolutely do opt for this option.....OR
Earbuds - generally, I think its probably does a fairly good job of being able to listen to the interviewer and for them to hear your answers. Its more discreet and hence less distracting. Any important meetings, where I have felt I needed to be in the "zone", this has been my go to option.....OR
Speakers - if you do not want any equipment to detract your interviewer from you and what you have to convey, opt for this option. Ensure that its a good quality echo-cancelling conference speaker system. The interviewer at the other end will lose a bit of your voice quality compared to the headphones or the earbuds, but on a day to day basis, this is my go to. Mind you, its harder to block out distractions with this option, unlike an earbud.
Ultimately its down to you what makes you most comfortable. If you practice recording your answers on each and see what feels most you, then that is probably the best option!
Good luck in your interview and if you have found this useful or if you have any further questions, please don't forget to leave suggestions on the website.