Virtual Interviews: Tips for Jobseekers and Employers

11 Tips for Virtual Interviews

Virtual interviews have become increasingly common, including with state government agencies in Austin, TX. Before COVID-19, Peak Performers had been transitioning to conducting mostly virtual interviews because of their convenience for all parties. Now, living with the virus, you will find most employers, including Peak Performers, are conducting their interviews via phone or video chat or some combination of the two. Let’s look at some tips for both jobseekers and employers:

  1. Treat it like a normal interview. It’s important to take all interviews, regardless of how they are conducted, with the same level of seriousness. Preparation includes: studying before you interview (jobseekers should research the organization, employers should re-read the candidate’s resume), getting plenty of rest the night before, being well fed before the interview, and cleaning/dressing yourself professionally
  2. Mark your calendar. Prior to the event, make sure that you are prepared to do the interview. You should send out or respond to calendar invites to let the other party know it’s really happening. As an additional courtesy, you can send an email expressing your excitement and providing the other party with another means to contact you if there is connection trouble.
  3. Check technology. Test out the technology to make sure you are set-up and ready to go. If possible, make a test call to a friend or family member. In particular, you should make sure that your webcam and microphone work.
  4. Manage noise. Find yourself a quiet room in your home (not outside). Sounds like a dog barking, garbage disposal running, or someone playing music in the next room may not be something you notice but your interviewer probably will. If you’re concerned about background noise, wear a headset or earphones.
  5. Manage lighting. Find a room with good natural light when possible. Avoid sitting with your back to a window as this tends to turn you into a silhouette. Use overhead lights when natural light is unavailable or insufficient.
  6. Adjust your webcam. Adjust the angle of your webcam so that your head is centered in the frame and the camera clearly shows both your shoulders. Sit so you are directly facing the camera.
  7. Manage interruptions. Don’t forget to silence your phone and computer so it doesn’t interrupt you. Additionally, put a sign on your door and let household members know that you will be interviewing. If interruptions do happen during the interview, such as a child coming in to interrupt you, mute your microphone, deal with the situation patiently, thank the other party for their patience, and return to the interview. We’re all human and working under unusual circumstances—do what you need to do and then get back to it.
  8. Take notes. For employers this is really important, especially if you’re interviewing multiple candidates and need to recall who is who. Jobseekers should also have a pen and paper handy to take note of their interviewer’s name, email, and phone for follow up.
  9. Speak clearly. Remember to talk slower than you might do in person, especially if you are conducting a phone interview. Pause before answering a question to think about it and avoid, when possible, excessive filler words. You want to sound thoughtful and communicate clearly.
  10. Smile often. Remember to smile often, even if you are doing a phone interview. A smile brings a natural enthusiasm to your voice and is particularly important with a video interview.
  11. Look at the camera, not the screen. Finally, when doing a virtual interview, look into the camera as much as possible when talking. This gives the perception of eye contact during the interview.

Resume header: Your professional email address

One of the most common resume “uh-oh”s I see is with email addresses. Is it overly picky to care about someone’s email address? Here’s the point: this is just one of the many elements that can contribute to a professional image.

It might seem obvious that certain e-mail addresses do not convey professionalism. Hotmama78@hotmail.com? I’ll take your word for it, but our office might not call you in for an interview.Benchpress247@yahoo.com? Unless I’ve advertised for a personal trainer, that’s probably not relevant.

Aside from a professional-sounding address, for consistency of personal branding, I recommend an email address that closely matches the name on your resume. This kind of address has the added bonus of always being recognizable; it takes the guesswork out of a contact list.

Did you know that there are certain details that should not be in your email address? At Peak Performers we are widely recognized for our nondiscrimination advocacy. Unfortunately, not every other employer shares this value. To play it safe—and, again, to demonstrate that you’re familiar with professional, industry standards—I recommend an e-mail address that doesn’t include:

  • a reference to age or year of birth
  • race or national origin
  • religion
  • familial status (marriage, children, being a grandma/grandpa, etc.)
  • or a reference to any other characteristic that is a protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

One of my favorite “inappropriate email address” real-life examples is the curse of a name that inherently sounds unprofessional. Ms. Goodbody, anyone? My guess is that if life has saddled you with a name like this, an email address is probably the least of your worries. For professionalism’s sake, the author over at SnagAJob suggests using a firstname.middleinitial.lastinitial@mail.com type of format. This helps Ms. Goodbody land that coveted interview–and gives her a readymade joke once the recruiter sees her resume!

Above all, the most important thing is that you give out an e-mail address that you actually check. The hazard of setting up a new, professional e-mail address (kept separate from your personal e-mail correspondence) is that you’ll forget to check it. The solution is simple: set up account forwarding. This way, you’ll be able to send and receive e-mails as a professional, with the convenience of being able to check both accounts wherever, whenever.

Since Gmail seems to be the most popular e-mail provider for these new, professional addresses, I’ll leave you with a tip on how to set up e-mail forwarding with Gmail.

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