With the arrival of coronavirus, the world quickly shifted from in-person meetings to video conferencing and video interviews. Google, for example, has just announced that its summer internship program is shifting to 100% virtual format. For Hult students, who are perfecting this new “norm” of interviewing (for now at least), I’ve put together a few tips for acing your virtual job interview. Whether the employer is hiring today or building their pipeline for later this year, it’s essential that you focus on making a positive and lasting impression. Just like during an in-person interview, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Prepare to wow your interviewer!
Tip #1: Set the stage
- Plan ahead. Pick a quiet, well-lit room. Consider your background and make sure it is clean, uncluttered, and preferably white.
- To enable eye-to-eye contact, find a way to elevate your computer camera so that it is at eye level. This allows you to look directly at your interviewer rather than looking down.
- Play with the distance from the camera so that your hands are seen in the camera. This allows you to animate the conversation with hand gestures.
- A day before the interview, practice with your setup. Make sure your internet connection works, you have sound, and your computer is fully charged and also plugged into the wall. You can test your setup by recording yourself on your computer. For example, on a Mac you can use a product like Quicktime to record yourself. Practice answering a few questions in the recording and then review. Do you like what you see? How can you improve your visual impact? Is the sound level good? Is background noise low? How is your diction? Are you speaking slowly enough to be easily understood?
Tip #2: Test the technology
For video interviews, you’ll have the opportunity to log into the site in advance. At least 15 minutes before the interview, make sure you dial into the site and check that your setup is working properly. You’ll usually be able to do a sound check with their technology.
Tip #3: Prepare thoroughly
- Know in advance who is interviewing you. If it’s a team interview, get the names of all the interviewers. Look them up on Linkedin. Remember to check to see if you have any contacts in common, and if so, refresh your memory on how you know the common connections. Mentioning common connections in the interview can be a way to build rapport and context with your interviewer.
- To the best of your knowledge, guess at the questions you may be asked and write down the answers for yourself. For inspiration, take a look at this article featuring employers’ favorite virtual job interview questions. Have a friend read you the questions so that you can practice and hone your answers. Aim to be crisp and succinct and—because you’re doing a video interview—work on slowing down your cadence so that you can be easily understood. Ask your colleague for feedback on your answers.
- Review the skills required in the job and highlight the top five-to-seven skills that the employer seeks. If you’re uncertain about the responsibilities and want more information about the role, you can research common business school jobs via Hult’s Career Mapper tool.
- Be prepared to talk about how your experience matches up with the skills the employer may need. For your key points, you might want to write them on a sticky and paste the sticky at the top of your computer screen at eye level—right next to your camera. Your stickies will keep you “on message” so that you can reiterate your most important points about your fit with the role. Feel free to write coaching tips to yourself like: “Remember to smile,” or, “Say thank you at the end of the interview.” Finally, focus on a strong finish.
- Have a few questions to ask the interviewer. Avoid asking about any company information that can easily be found online. Save your precious questions for topics about the company or team culture, how the team operates, and the top outcomes the employer is looking for in this role. Keep track of time and aim to finish in the time that the interview allotted.
As you’re wrapping up, remember to thank the interviewer for their time—and don’t forget to smile! Good luck!
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