In the months ahead as the US continues to adjust and respond to COVID-19, we’re sure to see lots of changes in the way businesses and companies are run. Even as work-from-home orders eventually ease, in-person contact will likely remain at a minimum for the rest of 2020 and possibly even into 2021.
With that in mind, it’s important for 2020 college graduates — and anyone else preparing to enter or return to the workforce — to prepare for these workplace changes.
One thing that is likely to grow in popularity is the online interview. While online interviews are safer and more convenient for those involved, they can be nerve-wracking if you’re not used to being in front of the camera.
If you’re feeling nervous about the prospect of an online job interview, use these five helpful tips to put your mind at ease.
1. Prevent Technical Difficulties by Testing the Equipment First
Your online interview won’t go well if the interviewer can’t see or hear you. To prevent any unfortunate connectivity issues, test out your microphone and camera before the interview begins. And make sure you choose a location with a strong internet connection. It would be horrible if your interviewer couldn’t hear your full answer to each question.
Some interviews will also require that you have access to certain software or websites. Give yourself plenty of time prior to the interview to ensure you’re able to access these tools and get familiar with using them. If you should have any issues, be sure to contact your interviewer prior to the appointed time.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Your video camera isn’t the only thing that may need some practice before the big day. A great way to relax your nerves and prepare for success, is to practice answering interview questions in front of your computer camera.
Remember to sit up straight, look into the camera, and try to avoid using filler words like “um” and “like” as you answer interview questions. Having someone else ask you the questions and remind you to make eye contact can help you perfect your online interview etiquette.
3. Arrive On Time
While some companies may be able to forgive your being a couple minutes late due to unforeseen traffic, when you’re interviewing online from the comfort of your own home, there’s absolutely no excuse for being late.
Log in to Skype (or whatever live video chat service you’ll be using) ten minutes before the scheduled interview time. That way, as soon as your interviewer logs in, you’ll be ready to begin.
Pro Tip: If your interviewer has not logged on or reached out 10 minutes past the set time, it’s perfectly fine to reach out yourself via email or phone (depending on what contact information you were provided with). Just remember to ask in a respectful and considerate manner and avoid sounding accusatory or unprofessional.
Which brings us to our next tip…
4. Make a Good Impression
Just because you don’t have to leave your house for the interview doesn’t mean you should wear your pajamas. In fact, it’s best to wear the same clothes you would wear to an in-person job interview that you want to nail.
Sure, your interviewer should, theoretically, only see you from the waist up, but imagine how mortifying it would be if you had to stand up to retrieve something and were caught in your Hello Kitty boxer shorts?
And it’s not just your own appearance that matters. It’s also the environment you’re in. Make sure there are no distracting pictures, roommates, or messy backgrounds that the interviewer can see. Best practice suggests picking a place with a neutral wall behind you and informing any roommates prior to the interview not to disturb you during the allotted time.
5. Use Notes to Your Advantage
The nice thing about online interviews is that you can have some notes in front of you while you talk. Of course, you shouldn’t simply read off the page when answering questions, but you can have bullet points to scan as you talk.
And just as you would see on a list of traditional interview tips, you can use another type of note – a thank you note — to give you an advantage. Send it to the interviewer within 24 hours, thanking him or her for taking the time to interview you and reiterating once more why you think you’d be a perfect fit for the position.