Grayce Talent Acquisition Manager, Jessica Bolton shares her tips for mastering virtual interviews.

Virtual interviewing isn’t a new concept. Many organisations who work remotely or operate internationally commonly use virtual interviews when hiring new team members. However, for many of us, the traditional face-to-face interview is the first format that springs to mind. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations have had to rapidly transition their recruitment processes to accommodate a virtual set-up.

Following this extended period of working from home, it’s expected that remote working will be here to stay. And that means that virtual interviews will be too. At Grayce, we’ve shifted recruitment for our three-year graduate Development Programme to be entirely virtual. Myself and my team conduct plenty of virtual interviews every week. So, we wanted to share our top tips for excelling in your next virtual interview.

1. Do your homework

Just because you’ll be doing the interview in the comfort of your own home, doesn’t mean it’s any less formal. You need to put in time to prepare just as you would usually do with a face-to-face interview. Research the company and the role that you’re applying for. What are the company’s values? Why are you well-suited to the role? Think about what your transferable skills and experiences are.

Anticipate some questions that you’re likely to be asked and ensure you’ve prepared relevant examples; the STAR method can be useful to help structure answers. Your interview is an opportunity for you to learn more about the employer, just as much as it is for them to find out more about you. So, take the time to create some thoughtful questions about the company and the role you’re applying for.

2. Prepare your space

If you live with other people, make sure to let them know when your interview is. Choose a space for your interview and ask that others keep quiet and don’t come into that room during the interview. Tell others that interview is a little longer than it really is to ensure you have extra peace and quiet in case your interview runs on longer than expected.

When it comes to virtual interviews, your space is a reflection of you. A clean and tidy space suggests that you’re organised and professional. At the very least, make sure any mess – piles of papers, clothes or your last meal – is out of view. You want your interviewer to be 100% focused on you. So, it’s also worth removing anything distracting from the background.

3. Check your tech

Technology challenges happen. So, give yourself enough time before your interview to test your tech. Make sure your device is charged. Check that you have the correct software or relevant account such as Zoom or Skype. Find a camera angle and enough lighting to show you clearly on camera. Test your headphones and microphone. Put your mobile phone on silent and stop other notifications from popping up to disturb the interview. On occasion, there will be technology challenges that you can’t resolve. To prepare for this, make sure you have the interviewer’s contact number or email address to let them know in time.

It’s best to test your tech set up with a family member or friend beforehand to ensure it’s working correctly. Why not get more comfortable speaking on camera by doing a mock virtual interview with a friend or mentor? This will help you relax, forget about the tech, and let your personality shine through.

4. Be professional

First impressions count – even if they’re virtual. Remember that this is a formal meeting – even if it doesn’t feel like a traditional one. Dress as you would for a face-to-face interview and err on the side of caution when it comes to formality. Put slang to one side and opt for a professional tone and vocabulary. Building rapport with your interviewer isn’t about treating them like your friend, it’s about being respectful and warm.

5. Be personable

Many of the usual ways we break the ice or build rapport – such as shaking hands – are absent in the virtual interview. But it’s still important to present yourself as professional and personable. Practice looking directly into the camera, so your interviewer feels that you’re holding eye contact with them. And try not to look at your own image on the screen.

Make a conscious effort to actively listen to your interviewer. A virtual conversation will lack the nuances of face-to-face interaction, so make sure you understand what’s being asked of you. Don’t be afraid of the odd awkward moment. It’s understandable that there will be a few false starts or times when the sound drops. Don’t be scared to check that you heard your interviewer correctly. Again, for you to show yourself in the best light, you must make sure that you understand the questions. Your interviewer understands that tech hiccups happen. Remember that if a technology problem should occur, try to show yourself to be calm and collected in a challenging situation.

 6. Follow up

Show that you’re willing to go the extra mile by sending a short email to your interviewer thanking them for their time. Try to briefly reference a specific detail from your conversation. Perhaps you liked the sound of the hiring company’s CSR programme, for example. This way, you’ll stay at the forefront of the interviewer’s mind as personable, polite and enthusiastic.

Grayce continues to recruit graduates year-round for our three-year graduate Development Programme. We remain committed to offering meaningful opportunities to the emerging workforce, whilst helping FTSE100 & 250 organisations nationwide to deliver change and build sustainable talent pipelines.

Good luck for your next virtual interview!

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