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Four ways to prepare for a virtual job interview

By Nicholas Siwatom | February 19th 2021
Virtual interviews have become the norm as companies leverage meeting platforms to recruit.

Technology has completely transformed how recruitment is done.

As a job seeker, after applying for a job and you meet the requirements, you will be shortlisted for a series of interviews - depending on the organisation’s recruitment process. So, what do you do when you get an invite to attend an oral interview virtually?

1. Understand the platform

If you are required to use a virtual platform that you have never used before, immediately familiarise yourself with it. Start by doing online research about the tool. Go to YouTube and watch several tutorials. Next, download the app on your device and try it out with a friend or a family member so you can practically understand how it works. Ensure you know all its features and how each works - how to log in, mute, unmute, and share a presentation, a document or a video. Test the camera and its clarity. Ensure there is an appropriate distance between you and the device. Most important, test your audio and if faulty, get good earphones that work.

2. Choose the right location to do the interview

Pick a suitable location that will be conducive to do the job interview as this will be a deal-breaker or maker for you. For this, develop a checklist that has the following things:

i) If you must take the call from your house, identify a location with an appropriate background – in case you are required to turn on your video. Avoid backgrounds that are cluttered or messy. Check if the tool you will be using can blur the background.

ii) Get a comfortable seat and test it to make sure it is suitable for you. Ensure you can sit upright to avoid crouching, bending or stretching to reach the camera. 

iii) Avoid background noise. If you have children or adults nearby, tell them you have an interview and if necessary, lock yourself in a room to avoid interference. Also keep any pets like cats, dogs or parrots away. You do not want your pet licking your face in the middle of an interview. 

iv) Have proper lighting. If there is a window in the room, face the light and the device (laptop) camera should face you. If you are doing the call at night, the bulb should be above your head to avoid shadows. If you are technology savvy, use a ring light. 

v) Ensure you have a good internet connection that will also support video. Get a back-up in case your main internet connection fails. 

Reconfirm the interview time and the time zone.

3. Interview delivery

Despite it being a virtual interview, you must prepare thoroughly. Days before the interview, practice before a mirror so as to boost your confidence.

Also confirm the interview time and the right time zone. 12pm in Kenya is 10:50am in Paris. Ensure you log in 10 minutes early so you have time to familiarise yourself with the platform and test that the audio and video is working perfectly. 

Have a printed copy of your resume ready. Write important points you want to share and emphasise them to the panel of interviewees. During the interview, look at the camera directly. If you are not sure where to look, place a small sticker next to the camera to help you maintain eye contact.

Keep your hands in check. Use your hands to emphasise a point the same way you would during a physical interview. Avoid touching your hair, clothes or face, picking your nose or scratching your face. Demonstrate energy during the interview through your facial expressions and project your voice. The panel must feel your presence and energy.

4. Image is everything – Invest in your look

Never underestimate the power of how you look. The first impression really matters. Imagine you are doing a TV interview. For men, get a clean shave or comb your hair, and wear a clean shirt or a suit with a tie. For women, avoid bright colours and tie your hair up so that it does not hide your face. Do not reveal your cleavage as it can be a distraction on camera. Make-up and jewellery should be modest. The focus should be on the delivery not what you have worn. 

Your performance during an oral job interview will greatly determine whether you will clinch the job. Spend time preparing and give it your best shot regardless of whether it is a virtual interview. Good luck! And stay tuned for our next article.

Nicholas Siwatom is the Chief Talent Officer at the Standard Group.

Email your questions or feedback to :[email protected]


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