With virtual interviews here to stay, it’s important to prepare differently than you would for a typical in-person interview.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced many companies to adopt virtual interviewing. According to a survey from Indeed, 82% of employers used virtual interviewing technology. And it turns out, both companies and candidates like it. The same survey revealed that 93% of companies plan to continue using virtual interview technology in the future. At MarketStar, 100% of our interviews are conducted virtually. Here I’ve listed my top 7 tips to help you present your best virtual self in your next interview.
1. WHAT IS YOUR WHY?
This one stays the same whether you are interviewing virtually or in-person. Everyone has their own reason on why they are looking for a new job, so the big question for you is to know what that reason is. By knowing what your WHY is, that will be what motivates you through the process of finding a new job. As someone who has worked in Talent Acquisition or Recruiting for over 7 years, one of the first questions I will ask a new candidate is “Why are you looking for a new job?” There is no right or wrong answer to this question, this will allow your recruiter to tailor the conversation to your needs. If you are looking for better benefits, company culture, work schedule, pay, or even a new career, make sure you communicate your WHY.
2. GET TO KNOW THE COMPANY
Do some digging and explore the employer’s website. Look over their values and make sure they align with what you are looking for from a new employer. Take some time to check out the company’s social media channels like YouTube, Facebook or Instagram. Try searching for information about the company from other sources like news articles. Check LinkedIn and see if you have any connections or fellow alumni that work there. Reach out and ask some questions ahead of time. Find out everything you can about the company. Bonus points if you can think of some ways in which you can add value to the organization.
One of the good things about virtual interviews is that they are done from a screen. You can bookmark the company’s website and keep some notes of things you learned during your internet and social media deep dive handy. Keeping these things open on a separate tab during the interview can help you reference them easily if they come up during the interview.
3. HAVE AN UP-TO-DATE RESUME
Having an up-to-date resume is essential in today’s world. This is how you can sell yourself as the job seeker to the company you are applying for. Make sure that you have a physical copy of your own resume for quick reference during the interview. Also make sure that everyone that will be present in the interview will have a digital copy of your resume.
Now there is no right or wrong way for you to create your resume so ultimately you need to decide what is important. Personally, I like to see resumes that are 1-2 pages max. I would also keep your color palate to 1-2 colors, more than that can be distracting. Remember, this is your time to sell yourself to the interviewing team.
For help writing a resume and to download a free template, check out this blog article: How to Write a Fantastic Resume
4. ANSWER YOUR PHONE/LOOK AT YOUR EMAIL
This is when the interview process will officially start for you. I realize no one likes to deal with telemarketer calls or spam email. At this point of the interview process though, it is very important for you to answer your phone and to reply to text messages and emails as soon as you can. If you receive a phone call and do not have 15 to 20 minutes to talk right then, it is completely acceptable to still answer and say that you cannot talk right now. Make sure you let them know you would like to set up some time to talk later.
Once you have an appointment set with your recruiter, make sure you have somewhere you can go that will be quiet and free from distractions. You definitely want to have something you can use to take notes during this time. Make sure you note the date and time of the interview, what virtual platform it will take place on, and who you should reach out to with questions or if you run into any computer problems.
5. INTERVIEW PREP
This will be one of the most important parts of the interview process. Your recruiter wants to see you succeed with your interview; they want to be able to call you after your interview with good news. The way you do this is by being prepared. For interviews at MarketStar, you will be sent instructions on how to prepare for your virtual interview. Take the time to go through this information, there could be a link to a video for you to watch that will set you up for a successful interview. Make sure you have the necessary equipment and video conferencing tool before the interview so that you are prepared beforehand. It’s always a good idea to do a test run and make sure you are able to use and navigate the platform smoothly.
Take some time to think of your own questions you would like to ask during the interview. Asking questions in an interview shows the interviewer that you are interested in the position and want to learn more. Do the prep work.
6. THE INTERVIEW
You have now reached the interview. This will be your time to sell yourself in person. For a virtual interview, make sure you have a quiet room, you will also want to set up your laptop or phone at a desk or table. The interviewer wants to see you, not your ceiling.
This leads me to my next topic, remember this is a job interview, you will want to look professional. What is worn to an interview has changed a lot in the last few years. I can remember the first job I interviewed for, I showed up in a white button shirt, tie, and slacks. Most companies and interviewers are no longer expecting this type of dress. The new norm is modern business casual. That means, have a nice shirt, collar optional. Despite what you may have hear about a “work-from-home mullet” you definitely should wear pants. Jeans are acceptable, but I would say keep them more professional. Avoid any pants that have holes, rips, or look dirty.
Be on-time or even early to your virtual interview. I have always been told if you are not early you are late. During your interview, sit up in your chair, do not slouch or lean back, and avoid twirling in your chair as well. Make sure you speak up and look at your interviewer. When you are asked a question, you will want to follow the SAR interview technique, (Situation, Action, and Result). To learn more about using the SAR method to answer tough interview questions, check out this blog article: Interviewing and the SAR Method
Before the virtual interview is over, make sure you know when you can expect to hear back from the recruiter and who you should reach out to if you have not heard anything by then.
7. POST INTERVIEW
To stand out from everyone else in the candidate pool, be sure to send a personalized thank you note to everyone involved in the interview. In the past, it has been customary to send a physical note. While this still leaves an amazing impression, in many instances recruiters are working at a very fast pace and a decision could be made before your physical note is ever delivered. An equally impressive alternative is to send a digital thank you card or even just an email to each interviewer.
At this point, when you hear back you should find out if you did or did not get the job, or if there will be another round of interviews. When you finally do get offered the position, first, congratulations! But then make sure you understand clearly when you will be starting, what training will look like, and ask if you should keep in contact with the interviewer or if there is another point of contact you should reach out to.
If you aren’t selected for the job, know that it isn’t the end of your job search. This is your chance to ask the interviewer what feedback they have for you. Ask what skills you should gain or improve for next time. Even if it is a “no” right now, you may be a fit for a future position. Make sure to let the recruiter know if you’d like to be considered for any future opportunities. Finally, this is still a chance to grow your network. Ask if it would be okay to connect on LinkedIn.
By using these tips, you will be able to present your best self to your future employer. And remember, virtual interviewing is new to all of us. The recruiter or hiring manager you are working with may be just as nervous or unfamiliar with the technology as you are.
To land your next virtual interview, check out our current job openings at www.marketstar.com/careers/job-openings