Navigating Virtual Interviews

Navigating Virtual Interviews

Change is inevitable, and while change can bring stress, it can also bring innovation.  That is the case with virtual interviewing.

Virtual interviewing has been used in various forms for several years, whether through systems like GoToMeeting, Skype, Facetime, and other earlier systems.  During past economic hardships, companies began using virtual interviewing to reduce travel expenses related to the hiring process.  Over the last few years, companies have been using virtual interviewing more, and not just because of the cost savings.  Advantages can include:

  • Global connectivity, providing an increased number of candidates to consider
  • Creates an equal experience for all candidates
  • An efficient use of time for both company and candidate
  • Cost savings to both sides
  • Visual interview without having to travel

While there are positive benefits of virtual interviewing there are also drawbacks, which can be overcome with preparation.  Some drawbacks and ways to overcome them include:

  • Candidate preparation for the virtual element of interviewing, but one that can be overcome through practice and planning
  • Availability of technology to conduct the virtual interview. This can be overcome by checking with university Career offices, or local libraries, to use their technology
  • Pre-recorded interview questions – some companies ask candidates to record answers to pre-recorded/typed questions. Interview systems differ, with some allowing the candidate to practice answering a question multiple times before creating a final answer and submitting it, and other systems only allow 60 seconds to prepare before requiring a required answer.  This concern can be overcome by being prepared for interview questions, and practicing answering questions with a webcam ahead of time
  • Environment – this can be a drawback if the environment is distracting. Be aware of the following points, prior to a virtual interview:
    • limit interruptions from roommates, animals, kids, the doorbell, and phone calls
    • ensure the area is free of clutter
    • wall/background décor that is appropriate
    • have good lighting
    • location of the camera shows you at your best
    • room does not have an echo
  • Technology – check the internet connection, speakers/headphones, microphone, and camera, to ensure they are working appropriately. Download the software ahead of time to test the system ahead of time.  Also, prior to the interview, close other computer applications so they do not slow down the interview system or create interruptions.

Additionally, consider these professional image tips to be successful during interviews, including virtual interviews:

  • Dress professionally – for in-person interviews this is standard, but for virtual interviewing, dressing professionally creates a professional mindset
  • Sit up straight and lean forward slightly – with in-person interviews this shows interest and wanting to engage and connect, and it is the same for a virtual interview
  • Be aware of any behaviors that can be distracting – such as swiveling in the chair, clicking a pen, or other behaviors that happen because of being nervous
  • Practice with a camera in advance, to become comfortable looking at the camera, maintaining good eye contact and not watching the screen
  • Be aware of negative body language, such as crossed arms, shoulders hunched forward, and not smiling
  • Communicating professionally, including limiting or eliminating verbal pauses that feel exaggerated in a virtual environment

When addressing the actual interview questions, the answer to being successful is the same as in-person interviewing:

  • Practice interview-style questions in advance – and practice out loud
  • Be able to communicate skills and experiences related to the job, and that are on the resume
  • Be aware of the structure of an interview answer, answering behavior-based questions with a STAR or Situation/Behavior/Outcome format and give examples when answering questions
  • Have several questions prepared to ask the interviewer(s)

Check out the Career Services website for more tips on interviewing, questions to prepare for, and being successful in an interview.

Sandi Ohman is an Assistant Director in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in Daytona Beach, FL. She has been with the University and in Career Services for over 16 years, has advised students in many degree areas offered at ERAU, taught UNIV 101 classes to incoming students, and enjoys maintaining the many alumni relationships she has cultivated through the years. Sandi brings additional experience and perspective from her previous career in the finance industry. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida.