Online Interviewing: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

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More and more employers are opting for virtual and online interviewing. So now is a great time to brush up on your virtual interviewing skills and ensure you know what’s expected of you and how to perform to bag your next dream job.
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The pandemic brought about huge changes to how we live, work and socialise. One of the most significant changes to the working world was online interviewing. This became an absolute must during the pandemic. Actually, I think this trend is here to stay, especially with the rise of technology platforms such as HireVue to support the interviewing process. And with increasing demand for remote working roles, it makes sense for companies to offer more opportunities for online interviewing as well.

But there are significant differences between in-person job interviews and online interviewing that you should be aware of. As well as things you should be doing to ensure your online interview goes according to plan? In this blog post, I will break down what these differences are and what you need to have in place so you can put these principles into practice in time for your next virtual interview.

The Setup

First and foremost, in order to deliver a successful interview, it’s vital that you pay attention to your equipment and setup. This means checking you have sufficient internet speed and that your audio equipment is working and pitched at the right volume. You also want to ensure that you are positioned in a suitable seating area with adequate lighting so that it’s not too dimly lit or too bright. But also somewhere where you haven’t got any distracting pictures or objects in the background. Be sure to turn off all other devices, so you are not disturbed during the interview. This also includes letting people you live with know you are interviewing so they do not disturb you. Lastly, pick a comfortable chair to sit in and record yourself answering interview questions. This way, you can watch yourself on the screen to ensure you haven’t missed anything. But also that you are happy with the sound, lighting and the general look of your practice interview. That way, when it comes to the real thing, you can feel confident that you are happy with what is being presented to the interviewer.

Body Language

Online interviewing makes it harder to read subtle facial cues and body language for some people. Therefore it’s important that your presentation skills are top-notch. What might have seemed endearing during a face to face interview may come off as awkward during an online interview. Again as an interviewee, I would encourage you to pay attention to your body language when you record yourself. For example, what your hands are doing as you are talking, your facial expressions and even where your eyes gaze as you answer questions. These things can give the interviewer clues about your personality and can go for or against you. Therefore be aware of any potential signals you may be giving off through your body language. Working with an interview coach can help you with this.

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Manage Silences 

How you manage silences during an online interview is important. Poorly managed silences create an awkward experience. In contrast, well-managed silences give the impression of thoughtfulness and well-considered answers. To achieve this, you want to think of your online interview as a performance where every aspect of your performance is planned and well managed. This also includes how you manage pauses in between and during questions. For example, I always encourage my coaching clients to have a glass of water with them while conducting online interviews. This way, if a client needs more time to think through an answer or compose themselves, they can inform the interviewer that they need to take a sip of water. Stopping to drink water is an example of a well-managed pause as it explains the silence and provides my clients time to think. I would advise that it is far better to do this than stop and stare blankly into a screen while you think about what you want to say. 

Build Lasting Connections

During an interview, people not only remember what you said but how you made them feel. Thinking about how you want to be remembered after your interview and how you want to make your listeners feel is just as important as planning what you want to say.

Creating a connection is somewhat easier when interviewing face to face. But the challenge with interviewing online is that the connection you make has to transcend not just across the room but through the internet. Therefore spending time beforehand to think through how you want to be perceived is important. I have found that my clients that have developed their soft skills during coaching have reported a greater success rate. This is why I offer all my clients help to master these soft skills during interview coaching.

Make Use of Prompts the Right Way

Suppose you are someone who works best with the aid of prompts. In that case, online interviews can create an excellent opportunity to have prompts around you without this being obvious to the interviewer. The key is to use and access your prompts without giving off the impression that you are using prompts. To clarify, I think prompts, when used well, can be very effective during interviewing. However, I do not favour interviewees having complete scripts that they read off. It is usually very easy to notice when someone is reading from a script versus when someone has a few prompts around them.

Another thing to bear in mind is that using a script does not go well with interviewers. I would have a few keywords, stats and information that will elevate my answers during the interview on my prompts. Basically, the key things I want to be sure to mention during the interview I would place on a prompt.

Summary

Online interviews are becoming the norm for interviewing, especially in our post-Covid world. I believe that online interviews will continue to grow in popularity with time. If you have not yet mastered the art of delivering a successful online interview, then now is the time because online interviewing is definitely here to stay. 

How do you feel about interviewing online? Please drop us a comment below and let us know. And if you need help to improve your interviewing skills, sign up to our newsletter to be notified when our interviewing ebook is launched. 

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Written by Eunice Asante

Eunice Asante ventured into career coaching in 2019 to serve the job-seeking community and since has helped professionals all over the world. She now manages her coaching business full time, helping people achieve success at job interviews, strategically plan for career progression or discover what’s blocking them from reaching the career success they want to achieve.

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