Many job interviews are done online, and while many of the same rules apply as for a face-to-face interview, some things are different.
To appear professional, you should prepare technically but also school yourself in the best way to portray yourself on a screen. Here are seven tips that help to make the online interview professional:
- Have the PC camera at the right angle
The camera on the PC must be level with your eyes. If the PC is on the table in front of you, it will be too low and your eyes will face down. Raise your PC to the right height by placing some books or a box underneath it.
- Look into the camera
Remember, the camera on the PC is in the frame above the screen, not in the screen itself. You need to look at the camera to make eye contact with the others. A trick to remind yourself of this is to draw a smiley face on a yellow note and place it above the PC camera. During the interview, you occasionally look up at the smiley face. Then the others will feel like they have better contact with you.
Sit so you have light shining on you from the front, not from the back or from the side. If you have a window behind you, only your silhouette will be visible. If the window is next to you, one side of your face will be light and the other dark. The screen produces a flat and unflattering light. To look your best, the light from the front should be natural, for example from a window rather than a lamp. Ask if you can have the interview in the middle of the day when you have the best natural light.
- Keep it tidy behind you
Make sure your background contains a neat bookshelf, a wall without too much on it and nothing too recognisable.
- Use facial expressions and give feedback
Online meetings can easily become very formal. To stop this from happening, you have to give feedback. Nod when people speak, look interested, smile and make small movements to bring the conversation to life. The easiest way is to move a few centimetres closer to the camera when you say something and perhaps pull back the same distance when the others are talking. Use facial expressions and slight hand movements to bring more life to the conversation.
- Remember to have notes
A big advantage of online meetings is that you can have big notes. Place them next to the PC or behind it, at the height of the camera, to avoid your gaze wandering “out of the picture”. Your notes can include the questions you are going to ask, as well as information about the company you are applying to.
- Practice makes perfect
Practise with a friend! Make sure you know how to operate the technology and practise the above steps so you appear more relaxed and give a better impression.
In summary, lighting, camera angles, notes and facial expressions are important in a virtual interview as they help create the right impression. These simple preparation tips will also help you feel more at ease, knowing you don’t have to worry about the technicalities.