Succeeding at the online interview

We explore how to prepare for online interviews, the key considerations and biggest no-nos.

Given the ongoing impact of Covid-19 throughout the world, it is likely the next interview for many of you could be a video interview.

The way we work and the way we will compete for work going forward is radically changing – and so is the hiring process for increasing numbers of trainees.

However, video interviews don’t have to be a source of stress and there are a range of tips and considerations to follow, to ensure you are ready to thrive on camera.

The key to succeeding is a little practice and the right mindset – with both of those factors in place, you can put yourself in a position to perform just as well as you would in a face-to-face interview.

Pitfalls

Jermaine Lynch, division manager at Robert Half UK, says: ‘While the structure of an online interview might not vary from face-to-face, there are a host of pitfalls to avoid.

‘The first is to make sure you are prepared for any technological glitches that may occur. Have a trial run on whatever platform you are going to be using – such as Skype, Zoom or Teams – to make sure you are familiar with it and that your camera and microphone are working.

‘It is also worth making a back-up plan, such as getting the interviewer’s mobile number in the event that, if the worst happens, you can simply transfer across from video to phone.’

It is sensible to arrive for your interview five to 10 minutes early and make sure to dress as you would for an in-person interview – doing so will make you feel more confident. Also, don’t try the old newscaster trick of wearing a blazer with sweatpants assuming you will only be seen from the waist up.

Remote interviews can often be subject to far more distractions than in-person, so take a moment to put your phone on flight mode and shut down any background programmes like Outlook, so that you are not thrown off by an alert in the middle of an answer.

Rapport

Lynch adds: ‘Make sure you pay extra attention to body language. While we naturally mimic those around us when we are in the same room, this is a lot harder via video, which impacts our ability to build an easy rapport.

‘Even little things, like remembering to look at the camera instead of the image on screen, or leaving a space after someone finishes speaking, so you’re not talking over them, can help you come across much better.’

Finally – and just as you would with any interview – thank the interviewer for the opportunity. And follow up with a post-interview thank-you note within 24 hours.

In your note, briefly reinforce why you are interested in the job and why you would be a great match for the role and company. Think about adding something that you and the employer discussed, while getting to know each other that will make the message more personal.