4 Tips on How to Prepare for an Online Job Interview

As the technology evolves, new norms and practices associated with how we use these technologies appears, with no exception to recruitment. More and more employers now propose job interviews to potential candidates from a remote location using video conferencing tools such as Skype, Cisco WebEx or Facetime.

Here are four tips to prepare yourself for this exercise with as much confidence as if you were there:

Maintain a professional appearance

One recruiter told me that a candidate she interviewed online sat on his bed and ate his lunch during the interview – a perfect example of what not to do. Follow the same rules as if you were in person in the recruiter’s office.

It means worrying about your physical appearance: put on pants, in case you have to get up during the interview! It is also important to pay attention to the background so that it gives a professional appearance and is not distracting from the recruiter’s point of view.

It’s also very important to do your best to avoid any interruptions during the interview. Talk to the persons you live with beforehand that you will need them to keep any background noise to a minimum while you are speaking with the recruiter. If you have a dog, arrange a space where it can be comfortable and quiet until you are finished the interview; if you have kids, make arrangements so that you can complete the interview without distraction. Close the window, turn off your phone and any other device that could make an unwanted noise.

It’s also a good idea to have a glass of water handy, as you will likely be having a long conversation. Kleenex is also good to have nearby in the case of a sneeze or cough. For your own peace of mind, take 10 minutes before the interview to relax and focus your thoughts and energy on the task at hand.

Understand the platform you are using for the interview

Once you know which program or app you will be using for the job interview, install it on your computer and test it out with a friend. Perform any updates needed on your system and, if you’re using a laptop, make sure that it’s plugged in or sufficiently charged to last the duration of the interview.

Also, take the time to learn about the different functions and features of the software you’ll be using. For example, it may be useful to know how to share your screen with the recruiter as you’re speaking. If you want to refer to a website or document on your computer, it will be very helpful to be able to share with the interviewer quickly and easily.

At the beginning of the interview, don’t forget to discuss with the recruiter the steps that you would need to take in the event the interview gets cut off for any reason (for example, who will call who back). Exchange phone numbers in case either one of your computers isn’t cooperating.

Have relevant documents ready

Have all the information that is relevant to the interview close at hand including your CV, the description of the position you’re applying for, and the company profile.

Conducting a job interview online has certain advantages for the candidate. For example, you can have documents and websites available that you wouldn’t have during an in-person interview. This can allow you to have written cues (or even Google searches) ready to help you out if you forget something.

On the other hand, the ability to access information should be used sparingly and with discretion. You don’t want to come across as distant or scatterbrained or give the impression that your ability to ace an interview depends on your having access to the internet. Your expression will change and your attention will be diverted, which can be annoying to the person who’s interviewing you. If this happens once or twice it’s probably fine, but don’t let it become part of your regular behavior.

Develop a sense of ‘closeness’

The biggest downside to online job interviews is undoubtedly the feeling of ‘distance’ between candidate and recruiter.

No matter how great an interview goes, it’s just not possible to have the same experience during a videoconference as you would if you were in the same room as the recruiter. Online, you can only partially see a person; images can be blurry and conversations get cut off or delayed.

Knowing this, it’s up to you to put in the effort to develop an excellent rapport with the interviewer. Be dynamic, enthusiastic and pleasant without going overboard. Maintain eye contact as much as possible by placing the recruiter’s video image directly below the eye of your computer’s video camera, which will help direct your gaze to the interviewer’s eyes.

Avoid looking at your own image in the smaller screen as much as possible – it can be tough, but make the effort, because looking off-center will distract you from the conversation. Pay close attention when the interviewer is speaking; this is much more important than multi-tasking by accessing documents or the internet. Stay attentive even if the recruiter becomes distracted, as they may have someone knocking at their door.

In closing…

A job interview is still a job interview, and the challenges remain the same whether the interview takes place in person or online. Being interviewed by a recruiter online shouldn’t change your attitude towards the conversation: it’s better to approach online interviews with a sense of mild adaptation, rather than a completely new strategy. Just make sure to pay attention to the details that can work for you, or against you, in the interview.

Keep in mind that everything you do in relation to the online interview will become information for the recruiter to analyze. For example, if you’re very nervous when operating the videoconferencing software, this will influence the recruiter’s opinion of you – just as it would if you showed initiative and problem-solving skills in the face of a technical challenge.

By Mathieu Guénette

Mathieu Guénette

Mathieu Guénette is a self-employed Guidance Counsellor with over 20 years of experience, as well as an author and a lecturer. He has worked with a diverse clientele (teenagers, adults, managers, job hunters). In 2017, he has simultaneously obtained the Ordre des conseillers et conseillères d'orientation du Québec’s Professional Award and the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés’ HR Book of the Year Award for his work Le candidat visceral. He provides services in Montreal, Lanaudière and remotely. His website is full of handy resources for you: Les chercheurs de sens.

1 Comment

  • Linda Beaton
    November 17, 2017 16:03

    Excellent points as i now am finding more and more interviews are done online – I think we need all the pointers that we can get to be successful – thank you
    I feel this was written by a male and we females have 3 additional issues to deal with:
    1) best color suit jacket to wear is gold
    2) best color lipstick is nothing with a blue base
    3) best color makeup to wear is nothing that is blue
    as blue looks like you are glowing cold infact the best colors are kodak colors gold blazer with a red lipstick

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