Online interviews are becoming more common and it is necessary to prepare to have a successful meeting!
About the Platform: First, are you familiar with the platform (Skype, Zoom, Other) that the company is using? Take some time to review the software and test the features with family or friends to make sure you are comfortable using it before your interview.
Schedule the date: When you schedule the interview date in your calendar, make sure you note the date on the household calendar too. Let your household know of your planned activity and that you do not want to be disturbed during this important meeting.
Where to set up for the interview: Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. You need to be able to focus on the employer, and the employer wants to focus on you.
About your space: Take a moment to look around. What will the employer see in the room you are in? You want the employer to focus on you and not on open closet doors, or other distracting areas or clutter.
Getting ready: Start getting ready an hour before the interview to make sure everything is running the way it is meant to. 10 minutes before the interview is not the time to find out that your laptop or internet is not working the way it is supposed to.
Connecting: If your space does not allow for your laptop to be plugged in during the interview, make sure it is fully charged before you begin. Set aside your phone and turn off the sound/notifications during your interview.
What to wear: I’m at home, does it matter what I wear? Absolutely! What would you wear to the interview if it was held in person? Professional attire for the type of organization you are applying to is a must.
Signing in: Under normal circumstances, arriving to the interview 10-15 minutes ahead of the scheduled time is standard. With an online interview you want to be prompt and begin the sign-in process approximately 5-7 minutes ahead of time. The employer will see that you have logged in and are waiting, and will invite/admit you to the meeting when they are ready to begin your interview.
Lighting: Have a brightly lit room so the employer can clearly see you. While window light is important, make sure the window is not behind you creating a silhouette or shadow situation on the screen.
What to bring: A notepad to take notes of questions that you might want to return to. Towards the end of most interviews, employers will ask if you have any questions. Always be prepared to ask 2-3 questions which should be about the organization or position, and not about pay & benefits or vacation leave. This lets the employer know of your interest in the role and organization you are applying to.
Finally, not everything might go according to plan. Life happens. If something goes amiss during the interview, with technology challenges or an interruption, stay calm, and use the moment to show the employer how you handled an awkward situation during a stressful time. You might use light humor if appropriate, or say, “well, this didn’t go the way I had planned”, and then explain what you might have done differently next time if applicable.
Interviews can be stressful. Being prepared in advance for the online interview will allow you to feel as confident as possible during this situation.